Kids, being critical really is critical

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Having completed a group project with the top two year 9 English classes, their reaction to challenging tasks was interesting and worrying. We presented students with some challenging poems, the chosen poems were deliberately challenging as these students are used to predominantly mixed ability classes and therefore are often not extended in their learning. Their reactions? Many students were quick to throw their hands up in the air telling us they ‘didn’t get it’. Others had no idea as to how to begin research and look at the key areas of the task. Their lack of perseverance in research and indeed their lack of analysing their research findings did worry me. It is clear from this that I need to do a lot more work in the area of research skills and the critical reception of information. I am desperately trying to establish life long skills in students (a concept very important to me) but it is clear that more work needs to be done.

I think I am getting it!

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Ok, have had to take stock after the first assignment as I did not do as well as I would have hoped. I know this was the case for many people which is in part comforting. However, I wish to improve my marks for assignment two and have initially found myself lacking in confidence to do so. However, with a few days of reflection and helpful feedback podcasts I am approaching assignment two with renewed energy and enthusiasm (pardon any cliches.)

First, I need to consider what I did well to be able to replicate it in the next assignment. According to the marking criteria I am a good writer and am excellent at referencing. I was pleased with this as I found referencing to be extremely challenging, having not had to reference at that level for a long while.

To improve? I need to be more critical! (I keep chanting it like a mantra as I read assignment two). Where did I go wrong? Too many references to readings without a criticism of them. I find it hard to criticise readings as they are written by leaders in the field (surely they have more experience and knowledge than me as I am not even in the field yet!). However, I realise now that my voice counts, the extent to which I did not realise until listening to the feedback. I must communicate my view strongly and be CRITICAL of what I read. We need to teach our students to be critical receivers of information, therefore, I need to do it more myself.