You know that moment when you take in those Y12 scripts in the Summer Term? You know the ones where students have just had their first crack at an essay on ‘assess Functionalist explanations of crime’? And you find yourself freaking out because the leap between AS and A2 is such that many students are struggling with the conceptual detail that they just ‘lob it all in and hope some will stick’. It’s what as an examiner we called the ‘kitchen sink approach’ – that very undiscerning technique where students write reams and reams on knowledge – usually listed – and with very little focus on the question given and a tendency to treat material on face value – don’t illustrate points and side-step analysis and evaluation. Well I found myself there today, in fact I have done so for over 20 years in the sociology classroom….it truly is a space in time…like on the cusp of childhood innocence and the realms of adulthood.

It was clear from assessing these scripts that now more than ever there needs to be greater differentiated targeting of expectation/modelling with scafffolding to enable students to make specific gains in the short term.

The following resources were developed to enable students to focus on a number of literacy areas:
– Structure
– Paragraph style
– Evaluation

The context of the lesson resource is for crime and deviance – slotted in between Functionalist and Subcultural Theories of Crime/Deviance. Students used this session to develop their technique for this essay.

The resources

How useful are subcultural theories to an understanding v2How useful are subcultural theories to an understanding v2

The lesson structure
1. Students were handed back an essay and asked to use the comments to set targets and to also apply the crude ‘success criteria’ to this.
2. Expo on structure for essays and how this dove-tailed with the Literacy skills ladder (slide 6) – this faciltated a discussion of AO1/AO2 skills/Bloom’s Taxonomy tied in with ‘effective writing’.
3. The PEELE structure was shared along with modelled paragraph (slide 8). We discussed how this sructure related to the literacy skills ladder.
4. In pairs students graded another ‘weaker’ pargraph. These were printed as full slides and students listed the ‘even better ifs’ and graded it using the success criteria. Then they ammended the paragraph with their own improvements. Students then used the ‘visualiser’ webcam to share their work with the rest of the group- where they then peer assessed and offered ideas for further improvement (not exactly Austin’s Butterfly – but same ball park!).
5.Students then engaged in an activity to help plan their subcultural theory essay. They were given a series of jumbled up concepts/thinkers/tips and firstly had to put together the related concepts which ones could be included in a paragraph on Albert Cohen etc. This was all about structure because they had to sequence each section in a sequence that would flow (see slide 14). They then had to add any explanations/examples/evaluation points to these points (see slide 12).These were taken and used for developing essays.
6. Students also had one of two ‘tips’ cards given to them (some had both)..these were basic guidance on evaluation (grade C/B) and also on contrasting theories (grade A). They will be particular attention to these in their subcultural essay and receive feedback regarding this.
7. Lesson concluded with the post it exercise to give teacher more insight into further needs.

It was a good lesson and am hopeful of impact – will upload examples in my future blogs to see how we get on.

Hope you find it useful.

All the best,