We are all aware of the pressures of teaching examination subjects and trying our hardest to make sure that all our students make the expected level of progress and ultimately finish their GCSE PE course with the best grade possible. Over the last few years there have been a number of external resources that I have used to assist teachers with the teaching and tracking of students progress. In this blog I am going to talk about a few of them and the impact they have had on our staff and students.
My PE Exam
I first came across the videos produced by James Simms aka My PE Exam (@My_PE_EXAM) when doing some flipped learning with my AQA A Level PE students. The reason I liked the videos were that they were not long in length but packed full of informative content on whatever specific area I was teaching E.g. rational recreation. I thought the videos and the quizzes would be great for students at GCSE PE level. In September 2015, I used some of the department budget to buy the department package which meant that all staff and students could have access to the site. With over 100 students taking GCSE PE it worked out at a very minimal cost per student so I thought it would be money well spent. The site is great for both teachers and students as teachers can teach the relevant topic E.g. sponsorship in sport and then set the homework to watch the short video, which hopefully will consolidate their knowledge that they learnt in my theory lesson and then to complete the quiz. The quiz consists of 6 questions which vary in type e.g. some might be fill in the missing words while others may be multiple choice questions. Students have to master the quizzes and for that to happen they must score 6 out of 6 otherwise the quiz is not mastered. I like this approach because it makes my students persevere and how often do we have students score 70% in an exam and feel satisfied when actually there is still 30% of the question paper that they got wrong. At my school, we currently have 2 classes of GCSE PE in year 11, 10 and 9. Being PE students they are naturally very competitive so we are now having class competitions (overall percentage of quizzes mastered by class) and individual competitions (most points scored). As a teacher you can see when the students have completed a topic quiz but probably more importantly when students are struggling with a particularly quiz. This is a fantastic website that has really made a difference to our students in terms of completing homework, consolidating their knowledge and developing their perseverance with certain topics they may not master first, second or even third time. When exam season comes around there are also webinars put on by James, which are a great revision tool for the students. In my opinion this resource is a must for PE departments particularly those with large numbers of students undertaking GCSE PE.
This is one for the teachers rather than the students. Exampro allows you to design test and examination papers for your students for the AQA specification. Exampro has all the questions from the last 5 or 6 years (479 questions currently for old spec) and you can search them by categories such as specification, level of demand, type, content, course and even questions that were specific to the scenarios. Once you have selected your question just drag and drop it into your exam paper and away you go. This resource is such a time saver for me particularly when creating specific topic tests and mock examination papers for my students. As you add questions it totals up the current mark of the paper as well as how long the paper should take. You can also create a front cover to make it look ‘exam like’ and the site also creates a mark scheme. All of this can be created within minutes and exported to Word or onto a PDF and saved on the system. Again there is a cost involved but it is not a great deal of money and they also do them for other subjects too so I am sure you can sort out some sort of school package. They also have new specification questions (350 at present) as well which again can be searched by level of demand, type and content, which is fantastic as I know there are not a lot of example papers out there at the moment.
Track PE is something that I have only just started using with my year 11 class. The main reason for this is that my students are on the old specification, which is free for this academic year so I wanted to try this and then decide whether it is worth purchasing. I have read some comments on social media saying that it is a glorified excel spreadsheet but I think this is unfair as I know for a fact the teacher who has produced this has put in an awful lot of time and energy into creating this tracking tool for all specifications on all exam boards. My early thoughts are that it is a very useful tool because you can instantly see where your students are at and ultimately what they need to do to get to the next grade. It also lets you produce reports on the data you are entering, which is a fantastic tool for events like raising achievement evening or parents evening. It covers all aspects of the course so if you have officials or coaches you can input their score, key process C, progress tests etc and works out the UMS marks for you. Again, it is another resource that saves teachers a great deal of time, which let’s face it is something of a commodity in this job. Yes, you could create something similar on excel but it would take you an awfully long time and while the old specification is free why would you not take advantage of this. Students love to know where they are at and with teachers under more pressure than ever to predict and estimate results this resource will certainly help with that.
Obviously there are some other resources out there that I have not mentioned and as always I would be interested to know of your experiences with any of the external resources I have mentioned above but also ones that you have used that have had an impact on your staff and students.