High expectations dominate my entire pedagogical approach. In most lessons I push students to think deeply about topics and make connections to the bigger picture of the course. No matter the class, I explicitly teach high level vocabulary, and no matter the student, use questioning to delve deeper into their current thoughts about what I am teaching them.
Differentiation is done mostly through directed questioning, with higher level inquiry directed to students who have moved closer to expert status with the particular topic, and challenging verbal feedback as I move around the room and observe responses. Some students are closer to mastery, and to be frank, for GCSE level, are at mastery level, and require more stimulating conversations and explorations into texts. These students are able to produce higher level, sophisticated responses to essays by weaving judicious quotes together, making links across texts and contexts, and generally writing with precision, concision, and perspicacity.
It is these students that indeed enjoy reading other texts that are of the highest calibre for GCSE, because they serve as inspiration to think, and invariably, as inspiration to produce. Sometimes it is the other way round, with the writing process their initial indulgence. But underlying either approach is the strong desire to see and absorb writing of high quality, writing that demands thinking and takes students into matrices intricate, new worlds of thought that propagate, swell, and change the soul for the better.
This is why I have set up a space on my revision/resource website called CLOUD 9. Students need to submit an adroit and accomplished response for their work to be added to the site. The categories are essays and creative pieces. Currently I have 6 students who have made the grade, including a year 10 girl, who is a phenomenal poet. To boost the quantity, I have also added essays I have written as well as other teachers’ submissions for students to read, as a further stimulus for students to push their thinking. It is nice for these students to see their teachers write with passion, to see him or her similarly fascinated by the texts taught, and wanting to explore themes as a source of enjoyment; as a compulsion.
What I would like to do to add credibility to the site is to add breadth, for my learners to experience a range of high quality essays and creative pieces. This means opening the space up to the nation. Students reading work from across the country exposes them to a wide, diverse range of viewpoints and thinking, thinking influenced by culture, location, and gender. As an added bonus, after some time, students’ work will remain, for posterity; how many times have you read a student’s work, been blown away by it, but end up never seeing it again?
There are things to consider with such an ambition, including stipulations regarding GDPR, and who will moderate submissions. The initial plan is to:
- Invite a moderator who is from each board to form a team to ensure the quality of uploads is maintained.
- Invite teachers to submit pieces from their students they believe are of an outstanding level.
- Satisfy GDPR – submissions must be anonymised.
- Ask fellow teachers to help spread the word to attract submissions and promote the site’s efficacy.
If you believe you have a student who has written something of exceptional quality, and the student is willing for their work to be placed on the site (anonymously of course), leave a message below, and/or contact me.
Ultimately, the phenomenen that is LitDrive and its philanthropic impulsion will shape the growth of this idea. I hope.
I’m Paul Moss. Follow me on Twitter @edmerger, and follow this blog for more educational and English teaching resources.