I was eager to get hold of the results to see what effect those lessons had had. I looked through the scores given to my students in each of the sections (reading/writing, listening and speaking) and compared them with the other classes, whose teachers focused on past papers and sample questions during their exam preparation time.
Now, I can’t share the actual results and/or statistics we received publicly on the blog (school policy) but I can make comparisons between classes and draw conclusions so that’s what I will do….
And so, the moment of truth - when I compared the results my ‘unplugged’ students got with the results of the students who were fed a strict diet of past papers, the difference was…. very small indeed…
So those are the stats (in summary) but, as ever, what they mean depends on your point of view. You could say it’s proof that dogme-style teaching is not much more than a ‘conversation’ lesson, explaining the better speaking scores, or that an unplugged approach is not really suited to exam prep or young learners…. Or, you could say (and I do ) that these students were still able to do just as well as their peers despite not using multiple past papers or test prep materials. Just using the children in the room and their input was enough for them to get good scores, making all that photocopying redundant.
We should also look back a little. When I compare these Flyers results to the scores the same students got one year before on the Movers test, their averages went up in all three sections showing progress over time.
And, yet again, we should not let the exam dominate our view. Exams are not the be-all and end-all of learning and neither are exam results. I got a good reminder of that when I stopped at the supermarket on the way home today and, while mulling over this post, bumped into one of last year’s students. She told me she was excited about starting middle school next week but also sad to be leaving primary school behind, saying she would especially miss ‘lessons like that one when we drew a snow picture and wrote questions about it’.
I’ll take a lesson making a lasting impression on a learner over top marks in a test any time.