Exam Questions Staff Activity

This staff activity is designed to get teachers from different departments to work together to look at similarities in exam skills across the curriculum and to start collaborating with the aim of best preparing students for the exams.

The activity looks at a range of issues such as the skills the exam is asking students to show, ATLs, similarities between subjects, language issues, cultural issues, how to prepare for different types of questions, potential problems for students on the exam.

Before the activity I get a range of exam questions from each subject and put them on different tables in the room. Next to each exam question are A3 pieces of paper, with the following questions on:

  • What is the exam / a particular question asking the student to do? Are there similar instructions in your subject?
  • What Approaches to Learning skills does the student need to answer the question? Give reasons. (thinking, research, communication, social, self-management)
  • What Approaches to Teaching would best prepare the student for this paper / question? Give reasons (inquiry, conceptual understanding, local and social concepts, effective teamwork and collaboration, differentiation, informed by assessment)
  • Does your subject have similar skills that the student needs in this exam?—please explain.
  • What potential language issues are there for our students as a whole (give specific examples if you can)?
  • What potential cultural issues are there for our students as a whole?
  • How would you prepare a student for this type of exam / question? Look at the revision techniques handout and add your own ideas.
  • Make links between the requirements for this subject and yours (remember to write your name on your comments!)
  • What potential problems are there on this exam?

Staff work around the room looking at exam questions from different subject areas and adding their ideas. I ask teachers to write their name and subject area next to each comment so the subject area can make connections at a later date.

The activity focuses on IB philosophy as well as the students in the school and is aimed to give teacher to analyse how we can better prepare our students for the types of questions they will be facing in the exams.

The questions in the activity are designed to initiate collaboration between departments.

As Coordinator, I amalgamate the responses and share with staff. It is a good idea to have a reflection meeting on this activity where staff can discuss the issues that have arisen.

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