The teacher’s response to the students’ work
From possibly no knowledge and understanding of earthquakes and their effects it was clear that students maintained their enthusiasm for the unit of work and produced an excellent range of differentiated outcomes. Most students achieved their target level with some exceeding their end of year target.
The test was challenging in that some students hadn’t come across this style of assessment before, that is to learn, prepare resources and do the test. Given the balance with leaflet and imaginative story, overall there was something for everyone although managing the process of a portfolio type assessment can be challenging.
Ellie used appropriate geographical vocabulary to articulate a very good understanding of tectonic processes. She could have extended this understanding in the case study section by referring to social, economic and environmental impacts.
Despite not using technical terms Harpriya showed a very visual grasp of the process of the movement of tectonic plates.
The leaflets showed that students are capable of sifting through information, ranking ideas and using ICT to produce (for homework) a professional-looking publication. Most students got the idea that not everyone speaks English (for example in California) and that communicating through images can be more effective than writing.
Diamond nine activity
The diamond nine activity prior to producing the leaflet enabled the students to think more carefully about their selection of strategies.
Tara used the diamond ranking exercise to justify why she had selected the items for inclusion in the leaflet. She produced a leaflet in both English and Spanish and also came to the conclusion that make-up and a hairdryer would not be necessary in an earthquake.
Harpriya was able to justify her selection of strategies to prepare for an earthquake. This showed that the thinking that went on in the diamond ranking activity enabled her to articulate her ideas well.
The quality of written English in this work shows issues with literacy and in other subjects there would be time to review, refine and improve this aspect of the assessment. However literacy was not being assessed in the story section. It was more about getting students to develop empathy and understanding that once TV cameras move on, people in earthquake-devastated areas do not suddenly return to normality.
Alex combined ‘live action’ with diary reflection indicating the long term consequences of a major earthquake. Referring to his family ‘meeting at the local park where they had arranged to meet’ showed an implementation of the priorities he had described in his leaflet.
Victoria’s detailed storyboard enabled her to write an informed story of an earthquake focusing on both the initial consequences and the longer term effects.