What do they need to know?

 My Quest

I want to find out what students need to know to pass their English Language GCSE. 

The Ofqual subject content and assessment objectives largely specifies what students need to be able to do (‘read and understand’ and ‘communicate clearly’) and gives exam boards some criteria about the types of texts that should be used (they must be ‘from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries’ and ‘must include literature and extended literary non-fiction’).    

I want to find out what knowledge is needed in order to be able to understand the texts (and then ‘identify and interpret’, ‘select and synthesise’, ‘explain, comment on and analyse’, ‘compare’ and ‘evaluate’) and to be able to communicate (‘clearly, effectively and imaginatively’, ‘organise information and ideas’ and ‘use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures’) through the creation of texts.

First I will focus on reading. 

This blog by The Learning Spy (David Didau) first introduced me to ideas about the vocabulary and general knowledge that underpins comprehension.  Tier Two words seemed to be a good place to start. 

(If you want to read more about tier two words here are some blog posts I found useful: Doug Lemov, ‘On Vocabulary: What is a ‘Tier One’ Word?’; The Learning Spy, ‘Closing the language gap: Building vocabulary’; The Wing to Heaven, ‘Teaching Content Rich Lessons’.)

The first step in my quest will be identifying the Tier Two words in the specimen material provided by the exam boards.  I will then use the British National Language Corpus to try and identify what sort of texts students will have had to have read in order to have come across these Tier Two words before.

I will post as I go,  sharing the stages of my investigations.

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