“I Hate My Voice”

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I’ve been teaching some entity of DP English for a while now and it’s a general consensus that one of the more demanding assessments of both courses is the IOC, the Individual Oral Commentary. The IOC is essentially an oral essay based on a small segment of a work of literature. It it tough, it requires students to know a  lot of content and applicable knowledge, but what probably makes the assessment the most challenging is the nature of the assessment. It’s a one-off, high stakes assessment. What you do that day, is your grade and it’s a decent chunk of their final grade. More demanding is that it is essentially an oral essay. It requires students to speak about some often very lofty, academic, and intellectual literary concepts, within a tight time frame, looking directly at their teacher in from of some electronic recording device. It’s extremely stressful. Additionally, they really have no idea what extract they will be receive. The are three works by three authors and students will always have their favorite and the one they do not want.

So, academically demanding yes, extremely stressful; absolutely. So, over the years I’ve tried to acclimate my students as much as possible to the process. When they will become more relaxed with the actual process, their actual performances do improve. Providing them with formative opportunities to rehearse parts and the complete process throughout the course will make the actual day of the assessment much less overwhelming.

Most people don’t like to hear their recorded voice (What Cringing at Your Own Dumb Voice Reveals About You), but as we know video and audio revision are amazing tools for self-reflections and improvement (Leveraging Video for Learning). Although it is necessary to have audio recordings for each IOC, I prefer to have students use video with all the formative IOC practice opportunities. They become more critical and aware of not only what they say, but their delivery, comfort level, etc.
Obviously having students use technology to prepare for the IOC is not a new concept in my class, but in the past what they did with these recordings was questionable. I will always have a look and provide some form of formative feedback and additionally, ask them to self-reflect. With the discussion stream component of either Google+ or Classroom, students can share their videos in a consolidated space and provide feedback to one another in the same environment (assuming in most cases, Classroom will be the dominate option given the all encompassing qualities as a LMS).
In theory the assessment component of this will be similar to what we have here with our current COETAIL, a principal product and an additional requirement of interacting with a classmates principal product in the form of feedback and comments.
As stated, I want my students to get accustomed to the process of the assessment just as much as I want them to be knowledgable regarding the content. A student can know all three works of literature backwards and forwards, but if they literally freakout during the assessment, it’s not really relevant how knowledgeable they are.
I few years ago I had a very independent student, who would spend his summers “skateboarding  in Europe”. He was mature, and like a number of our students had essentially lost a year at some point due to coming from a national curriculum and not allegedly not having enough academic English. So when he took his IOC, he was pushing twenty years of age. Within the first 90 seconds he was balling, uncontrollably – yikes. He freaked out.
It’s fairly common for a number of our students to essentially stop caring about what we as teachers think about them fairly early into a course, but they never seem to stop caring about how they will look in front of their peers. The streaming element of both Google+ Communities and Classroom will ensure that everyone in the classroom will have access to their product, hopefully increasing their level of stress. Sounds horrible, but what I really want the actual assessment to be as nonthreatening as possible.
Miyasaka (2000) identifies five forms of test preparation that assist students with high-stakes tests; of these I’m hoping this lesson will hit at the following four;
“(b) using a variety of assessment approaches and formats,
(c) teaching time management skills
(d) fostering student motivation, and
(e) reducing  test anxiety”  (from Preparing for High-Stakes Testing, Cengiz Gulek, 2003)
The following is my UBD – Hopefully it makes sense. I’ve never filled out a UDB template for a single lesson, so some of the stages might seem a bit redundant given the time frame only covering a little more than a class period and some out-of-class homework for consisting of students reviewing each others products, assessing and providing feedback. Additionally I went back to review certain elements of the template (I think some of this has been modified a bit since my last experience) and referred to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development’s publication Introduction: What is UbD™ Framework?