How to encourage students to improve the length of their explanations
With the new requirements for the GCSE we noticed that a large number of our students were explaining their answers but not going far enough to reach the highest bands on the exam questions - what Eduqas refers to as 'comprehensive' chains of reasoning. Introducing phrases such as 'this means that', 'as a result' or 'as a consequence' into their writing improved the length of their explanations and it has particularly helped our middle achievers who were consistently achieving the middle band on the longer exam questions. As a result of the success with GCSE groups it seemed a good idea to introduce these phrases in some form to Key Stage Three.
Instead of calling them chains of reasoning we call them the 'three magic words' at Key Stage Three and stick to just 'this means that'. I trialled it last year with my Year 7 groups and although their added explanations needed improving it was the first hurdle to get over. It now means that as we use the magic words more we will have a whole cohort trained up for writing at GCSE, leaving us time to focus on exam technique in more detail.
Here are some examples of a Year 9 assessment in which students were answering an exam question and were encouraged to use the magic words. After finishing their writing I also asked them to underline any of the magic words so that they could see how many times they had used them. It then highlighted to the students if including the magic words was something they need to improve on.
We have also found that using the magic words has encouraged our lower output students to write more because it helps them to consider the impacts or the next step in the process. I regularly put them into my lessons to remind the students whenever they are completing a written task that they need to use them.
Here is an example of a task that I have set Year 9 about China's population density/distribution. Before introducing magic words most students were writing only a few lines but as I force them to write 'this means that' they are now starting to write more. As you can see from the exemplar work it has encouraged students to extend their explanations.
The more you can use it with your students the more they will start to independently use the magic words and I only need to say 'what should you put in your answer' to be met with a chorus of 'the three magic words!' being shouted back at me. I hope that this idea is helpful to you in your lessons.
Curriculum Leader for Geography, Court Moor School
By placing a booking, you are permitting us to store and use your (and any other attendees) details in order to fulfil the booking.
We will not use your details for marketing purposes without your explicit consent.
You must be a member holding a valid Society membership to view the content you are trying to access. Please login to continue.
Join us today, Society membership is open to anyone with a passion for geography
Cookies on the RGS website