research journal: exam prep for ICT functional skills

The students were registered for the Entry 1 Functional Skills ICT exam. Throughout the year we had had a lot of practice at using Word, predominantly around designing posters or flyers that linked to their PSD topics. I was feeling confident that they had the ICT skills to pass this assessment, what I was concerned about was the amount of reading they needed to do to be able to understand the task. The assessment could be in any context, but the task was to open an email to receive two things. Firstly an attachment to a poster or flyer & secondly to find out some information that needed amending on this flyer. This amendment came in two stages: 1. add some extra information. 2. change some information.  In addition to to amending the information provided in the email, the students also have to label the image. This information is given in the assessment paper.

Therefore, the ICT skills were all do-able by my students. They could all open their email, type, delete, copy and paste,  add a text box (or shape). What was the challenge was firstly dealing with the assessment paper (which is 3 pages long), then understanding the words in the email & how these fit with the context of the flyer.

The plan: To have a non-Word task that allowed students to identify the difference between ‘add’, ‘change’ & ‘label’ in a flyersvariety of contexts.

The preparation: I had access to three past papers. The contexts for these papers were gardening, surfing & plants, but I obviously didn’t know the context of the actual assessment to be used. I gathered a variety of flyers on different context, took photos of these on my phone & created a  Word document & an IWB resource with them all on.

I then created some simplified assessment instructions for three of these posters.

Resources from this lesson can be found here

The lesson: We did a couple of activities to explore all the flyers & then the students had to match the three instructions with three of flyers. Once they had correctly done this, they could choose one of the flyers to work on. They took a photo of their chosen flyer, opened this in Ask3 & created a video where they made the three amendments asked for.

Evaluation: Before the lesson I was feeling a little like I was shoe-horning the technology into the lesson again. I bumped into one of the ESOL tutors in the staff area & discussed my idea with them. It was through this discussion that I was able to see that the technology did add value to the lesson, & reflecting on the activity afterwards confirmed this.  Because of the technology the students had to demonstrate their understanding of the three terms (‘add’, ‘change’ and ‘label’)  – if I had done this task on paper, once it was completed (even with support) the task would be over. But with the Ask3 app I was able to watch & listen to the students completing the task, give feedback & ask them to repeat it if necessary. There was also the added element of speaking practice involved & the students had to collaborate as they had one device between two.

SAMRSAMR: This task comes under Modification. As I reflect on above, this could have been done using paper, where students write the three amendments, but the iPads and the whiteboard app added value & allowed the students extra practice in recognising what they needed to do for the exam in a variety of contexts.

Following this task the students then had to make their own flyers with instructions. These were uploaded to the VLE for each other to access & complete. I think this final task was one of Redefinition. Without access to the PCs, Word, Google Images & the VLE the students wouldn’t have been able to do the final task.

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