Now that the Easter break is over (NOOOO! Give me back the chocolate!), it is time for the last few weeks of preparation for SATs. Not a teacher’s, or parent’s, or pupil’s favourite time of year, but a necessity nonetheless.
One key thing to remember is that this is a time to work smarter not harder. There is no time to suddenly fill in every gap a child has, or to quickly teach all the Year 5 and 6 content from scratch just in case some more of it sticks. It is vital that we use gap analysis to fulfil two key objectives for our remaining lessons:
1) Finding the whole class quick wins – what can we teach to the whole class that will have a big impact across a range of questions and tasks?
Reordering the markbook to see where the big gaps are across the class can be a really good idea for finding some quick wins. Find the big blocks of red and use this to inform your planning. This should be content that has been covered but pupils have struggled with, so worth a revisit. But also look for the pockets of yellow, which will signify something which pupils have at least partly achieved or understood – so now is the time to discover why they are not yet fully secure. Is it simply a matter or revising? Or do they totally get the concept but need more experience of applying it to situations to make it more “concrete” in their minds?
Matching the markbooks to the test gap analysis is also vital here. If you feel a child is secure in something and have marked them as such on the markbook, but they keep getting it wrong or not answering those questions on the test, it might be a lack of a deeper understanding. They can understand it when you talk about it and can then go on and apply it to questions in class, but they are not making the connection between that method and the way the questions are asked in the test.
2) Dealing with individual gaps – Which individuals are not quite achieving what you think will get them that Expected Standard result, through the fault of just one or two key areas.
Identify individuals where intervention is possible with extra support or some carefully planned group work in class – look for the patchy areas in the markbooks and test gap analysis. There is no point trying to fill in huge blocks of red; instead find those areas where they seem to have achieved most things, but a couple of stumbling blocks keep coming back. Matching up the green secure items with their test results can also help. Sometimes pupils forget things once they have learnt loads more and even the things they were good at can disappear as they learn more.
One thing to watch with the higher ability pupils as well is a complacency or boredom with the “lower order” skills. They may get so confident that they feel every question is trying to trick them or that it must be all harder than it looks, or may want to show off their full range of skills in every question. Some repetition of some easier questions can really help them with their test prep. Often these are the ones that can easily make them spend too much time in the test trying to figure out the hardest way to do things. Being confident that they did indeed know the answer straight away will help them to speed past those questions and spend their time on the trickier challenges, giving them more chance to pick up the higher marks.
If you need help using your Classroom Monitor markbooks to spot the big gaps quickly and easily just get in touch. As always we wish all of our schools every success. Be confident that all your hard work will pay off. You are all superstars in our eyes and we are here to help every step of the way!