Screencast #3 – Citizenship Project Section B

So here’s the best I could come up with in terms of helping students to avoid some of the unnecessary pitfalls when it comes to drafting their Section B of their Citizenship Projects, which is worth the Lion’s Share of the marks (45/100). I hope you find it useful…

To make it a little easier, you should download the handout, https://polsocpodcast.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/citizenship-project-section-b-handout.pdf so that you don’t have to try and read the contents off the screen (especially if you’re watching this over your phone!

As ever, it’s only my own best judgment of what’s happening and how they have been marked, combined with a fair amount of “reverse engineering” of the projects my own students have submitted. Hopefully they’ll be of use to students who are stranded due to Covid-19… All they need is the link and a smart phone for this to work for them…

I deliberately didn’t mention that you could talk about how Covid-19 impacted your project in your “Critical Evaluation of Action Plan” section, because we don’t know how the SEC are going to react to this, but it seems perfectly reasonable to me that if you were unable to complete certain elements of the action, you can talk about that in your ‘Section B’ – though if I hear any more on that, I’ll be sure to update you as soon as I can.

Best of luck with your submission!

JD 1/4/2020

(definitely not an April Fool… just sayin’)

 

Screencast #2 – Children’s Rights Essay

In an effort to expand my repertoire and skills somewhat, I’m starting to work a little more on screencasts. This contribution is aimed at helping students with their essay writing by working through ONE way of approaching a Children’s Rights essay.

I’m at pains to emphasize that this is not a ‘sample essay’ to be learned off by heart and reproduced in the exam (that’d be too ‘Banking Concept’ for me…!). Rather, it aims to show students how they might structure their work and highlight lots of different sources of data that students can investigate for themselves and which they can then include in their essays to strengthen their ‘Evidence’ mark. It also hopes to press home the need for ‘Alternative and Comparative Perspectives‘ (which accounts for 15% of essay marks) by conspicuously attempting to bring in different counter-arguments and different ways of looking at any given essay title.

You can watch the video here, pausing at the appropriate time to complete the tasks on the Screencast 2 Listen Along Guide. While the actual video is just under 20 minutes, you should allot 60-90 minutes in total (with access to an internet browser) to complete all the different elements of the tasks

You should also download the Children’s Referendum Case Study that has three different sections, including ‘Background and Outcome’, ‘Arguments in Favour and Against’ the Referendum, and a ‘Brief Outline of the articles in the UNCRC that are needed for Pol Soc students’. Any and all of this is relevant to how you might approach the essay and this topic more generally.

I hope you are all remaining sane during the Shutdown. From this process I’ve learned that I MUCH PREFER teaching in an actual classroom compared to this digital environment, but we don’t seem to have much choice in the matter…!

Keep sane and wash your hands.

JD

Citizenship Project Videos

All,

So I spent the guts of last night and today making a screen-cast designed to help students with the process of writing up the ‘Section A’ of their Citizenship Project Report Booklets. It also deals with some common mistakes that I’ve observed with my last four groups that have worked through the process.

As ever, it’s only my own best judgment of what’s happening and how they have been marked, combined with a fair amount of “reverse engineering” of the projects my own students have submitted. Hopefully they’ll be of use to students who are stranded due to Covid-19… All they need is the link and a smart phone for this to work for them… But students’ engagement with the video would definitely be helped by downloading the samples from my students last year that can be found here. (scroll down to the bottom of the page…)

Any and all (constructive) comments and suggestions are most welcome…

Hopefully, in the coming days I’ll be able to put together content to help with the other elements of the project. But bear in mind, they’re very, very time consuming to make!

Keep well and WASH YOUR HANDS…

JD 19/3/20

Pol-Soc Writing and Exam Resources

All,

Just trying to pull together other bits and pieces of resources that might be of use to you and your students. Some I’ve already posted, others are little “one pagers” (I’m a big fan of ‘one-pagers’), that I’ve dug out over the last few days.

For the time being, I’ll leave them on the ‘Key Thinkers Notes’ page, but I’ll put links here also. I’ll figure out the best way to deal with that later!

As always, I’d be happy to hear any (constructive) feedback…

Study Skills for Pol Soc Essays Exam Strategy and Timing

 

Tips from the Politics and Society Chief Examiner Report 2018

 

DBQ Long Answer 2020

 

Paragraph Structure

 

Dealing with Counter-Arguments
Blank Revision Essay outline

 

TLDR – Recording your Pol Soc Reading

Keep Well – And Happy St Patrick’s Day…

JD (17/3/2020)

Key Thinker Notes

This page will evolve rapidly in the coming days, but thus far, see below links to upload the Key Thinker Notes. Please also scroll down for my “Introduction” sheets, that lay out some of the suggested essay titles (drawn from the subject specification), that students case use as a focal point for their study and exam preparation…

Thomas Hobbes John Locke
Robert Nozick Karl Marx
Paulo Freire Sylvia Walby
Fr Sean McDonagh Andre Gunder Frank
Vandana Shiva Kwame Anthony Appiah
Benedict Anderson Samuel Huntington
Kathleen Lynch Martha Nussbaum
Edward Said Thomas Hylland Erisken
Intro to Power and Decision Making Intro to Identity
Intro to Human Rights 1 Intro to Human Rights Bodies & Essays
Intro to Data, Communication, & Social Action Intro to Development
Intro to Media and Chomsky      &

Citizen Journalism

Intro to Writing

For some of the material in the Intro to Media and Chomsky I am most grateful to @northmonpolsoc. Thanks Jon!

Study Skills for Pol Soc Essays Exam Strategy and Timing
Tips from the Politics and Society Chief Examiner Report 2018 DBQ Long Answer 2020
Paragraph Structure Dealing with Counter-Arguments
Blank Revision Essay outline TLDR – Recording your Pol Soc Reading

Please bear in mind, that I’m ramping up this content as quickly as I can. If you look at the notes and feel that there are any errors that I should be aware of, please do let me know, and I’ll do my best to try and get them fixed and updated. But also bear in mind, I’m only one man, doing my best….

Don’t forget you can test your knowledge for each of these sets of notes by trying the self-correcting Key Thinker Quizzes. Remember, recall is a critical part of all learning!

If you fancy supporting the website with a small donation to help with the cost of the website into the future (and for the copious amounts of coffee needed to make these possible), I’d be most grateful…

Oh, and this disappeared from the site for some reason…? Useful Podcasts for Students and Teachers

Here it is as a ‘Google Doc’ that anyone can add to or edit. I don’t know how to re-format the tables in Google docs, so maybe some kind soul could help with that and save me untold heartache and help us all!  USEFUL PODCASTS GOOGLE DOC.

JD (13/3/2020)

Shutdown!

Well, in extraordinary times, we take extraordinary measures. So here’s what I’m up to…

In the next few days I’ll be dramatically expanding the scope of resources that I have available here, for everyone, for free. I’ll be focusing on making sure that all my “Key Thinker Notes” are available to download here in a menu of that name. It’ll take me some time to polish them up to a condition that won’t embarrass me, but I’ll get there eventually. I can’t guarantee that they’re perfect (I’m sure there will be some mistakes, that ye might be good enough to point out to me, so that I can fix them). I’m starting with Benedict Anderson and Andre Gunder Frank, but there’ll be more to follow quickly in the next few days. Rather than bloating your inboxes with updates, I’ll tweet out additional links about uploaded resources on @khpolsoc…

Effectively, they’re ‘student ready’. Circulate them as widely with other teachers or students as you see fit, or ignore them completely.

At the very least, nobody will ever be able to turn around to any of the Pol Soc teachers that I know and say that their students didn’t have enough resources to revise with!

I wish everyone the very best in the coming weeks. It’s going to be a stressful time for everyone. Stay safe, stay sane, stay healthy. And remember, we have always “depended on the kindness of strangers”.

Now, more than ever, we’re all a part of society, not apart from society.

And if, on the off chance, you find these extra resources useful, you might consider making a tiny donation to the site to fund the many, many, many cups of coffee that I anticipate consuming in the next few weeks…

Best,

Jerome

Citizen Journalism – DEB Mock Exam 2020

Just a very quick blog to help some of the students who may have sat the DEB Mock Exam this year. My own students had a mixed reaction to the paper, with some excellent work evident in the booklets, but also with others who struggled to get to grips with certain elements of the paper (particularly timing of their essays, it seems). I think I’m getting a bit better at setting these papers, but with such a small ‘sample size’ to go on (only 2 actual past papers), it’s a real challenge…

I’m a big fan of the “One-Pager” – everything you can get down onto one single revision page. The goal is to include some of the key concepts, some of the key data, and also an opportunity to formulate their “I Sentences” to show the examiner that they can see the impact (or footprint, as I like to call it) of some of the big concepts we examine.

The longer (50 Mark) question in the ‘Data-Based Question’ in the DEB mock paper was on ‘Media Origination’, and ‘Citizen Journalism’ in particular. So below is my ‘one-pager’ on Citizen Journalism to help students to get their head around the topic. I’m also including two newspaper articles on Citizen Journalism that students could try to incorporate into their own revision to help them to form their opinion. One is in favour of CJ, the other against. See where you fit on that spectrum after you’ve had an opportunity to do a bit of reading, research and learning. (For those of you that get really hung up on this kind of stuff, it refers to some of the sub-headings in Learning Outcome 2.6)

Citizen Journalism KH

Citizen Journalism contrasting opinions

I hope the mock results are favourable, but remember, there’s a lot of progress that can be made in the intervening 3 ½ months!

Back to the corrections!

Jerome

 

Dealing with “Citizenship Project Part C” – Reflection on Knowledge Gained and Skills Developed

So, this is the final installment in the series of blog posts about the Citizenship Project. Most of the students (hopefully) will have, by this point in the year, completed their actions and written up the majority of the “Part B”. In theory, at least, they also will have had some time to reflect back on the process they have undertaken over the last few months. For others, inevitably, it’ll be a bit of a mad dash to the finish line on the 24th April.

So what I did with the “Citizenship Project Section C Sample” is to pick a different project, where the candidate did a very good, but not a perfect report. The overall mark for Section C was 15/20. If the students can see what the candidate did very well, but also identify some of her minor mistakes, they should be able to help avoid some of those obvious pitfalls themselves.

I’d be asking students to read through the final part of her project and notice the following:

  1. The lack of headings makes it a little difficult for the examiner to see exactly where the marks are supposed to be assigned, particularly in the final section. This is a very easy fix…
  2. While the opening section (Knowledge and Insight) is very strong, it is TOO LONG. Of all the sections, the Section C has the fewest words available. While she does get 6/6 for this section, she pays the price later on by having her ‘Feedback’ and ‘Reflection’ sections squashed into a couple of lines, and certainly not developed enough for two 4/4 answers. The students need to be efficient in their writing and disciplined with their word count, skills that are often pretty thin on the ground.
  3. There are a few spots, like the ‘Skills Developed’ section, where, while the content is strong and focused on the requirements of the question, I’d want maybe one or two bits of specificity. As it reads at the moment, it could apply to virtually any project that any student, anywhere in the country could have written. I always think that the personal touch is best and helps to set your work apart. It also looks like you’ve actually undertaken a deeper personal reflection when you do this…
  4. If you’re a student that really struggles to write efficiently and directly, I’ve included a few sample ‘starter’ sentences that are designed to help you stay really focused on the kinds of things that the SEC seem to want you to focus in on. They’re only suggestions (and there’s obviously multiple ways to address any of this stuff), but they should be a good jumping-off point.

***As with all of the handouts you can download in the Citizenship Project tab of the website (where you can find the other handouts), the suggestions are simply my BEST GUESS as to how the projects have been marked by the SEC. I have no special insights, other than having had three classes go through the process in the last two years and the fact that I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to reverse engineer how I think that process must have been undertaken. The SEC are also, obviously, free to change the marking scheme year-on-year without telling anyone, which I think it hard on students, but that’s life… So with those CAVEATS in mind, I hope that you find the handout useful in preparing the final drafts of your projects.***

I’ve always thought that the biggest problem that students face is not knowing exactly what the expectations around the standard of writing in the Report Booklet actually are. Hopefully, this final handout, and the ones that have gone before, will help to alleviate at least some of that anxiety!

Best of luck with your submissions!!!!

Jerome

The Difficult Answer to a Simple Question…

The question I have been asked most frequently by my own students is simply this:

How do I improve the mark in my exam essays?”

This is a fair question, with which students perennially struggle, but one whose asking seems to have increased in frequency in recent years in both my Pol-Soc and History classes. As someone who taught English at JC and LC for many years, I can’t help wondering how much this is linked to the fact that the new Junior Cycle doesn’t require English students to write any kind of extended essay, discursive or narrative? A question for another day, perhaps…

Well anecdotally at least, in the absence of that key skill, students seem to be arriving in to fifth year Pol-Soc class with lower levels of writing skills that we must nonetheless address. So over the holidays I tried to put together a one-page guide (God, I love trying to fit it onto one page!) to an incremental process designed to help students make gradual improvement in their discursive essay writing. Of course, there’s no substitute for content knowledge (which this takes as a pre-requisite), but I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen good students under-perform in exams because of poor time-management, rather than because of a lack of knowledge (and reciprocally, average students who have gotten to grips with this process, out-performing their seemingly abler classmates).

Similarly, students often fail to take the basics of ‘exam conditions’ into account. They fail to practice writing essays without the crutch of their notes for support, or fail to realize that they should find a neat, light pen (blue or black) that doesn’t require them to put too much pressure on their writing hand, that they use exclusively from Christmas in Sixth Year until the end of the exams (buying 20-30 of them so as to never worry about running out!). They wouldn’t use a brand new type of football boot at the start of a county final, so why should they do it during the most consequential minutes of writing they’ll do in the early part of their adult lives?????

Anyway, take a look at the one-page guide here: Study Skills for Pol Soc Essays, and if you have any suggested ways to improve upon it, I’m all ears (which is, unfortunately, both literally and metaphorically the case…). How I’ve explained this process to my own students is to remind them how they learned to ride their bikes. First they started off with all the necessary supports – a parent to hand, all the elbow and knee pads that money can buy, 2 stabilizers, smooth flat ground… Gradually, each support is removed so that the process no longer feels so daunting and insurmountable. Essay writing is actually just like that. (P.S. If you missed my post on suggested exam timing and exam strategy, you can find it here.)

The process requires students to make a brutally honest self-evaluation at the start so that they can identify what areas in the process they need to address most urgently in order to make maximum progress. We can’t help with the honesty bit, unfortunately!

Best of luck in the run up to the mocks (and if anyone is using the DEB paper, I’d be similarly interested in any constructive feedback that people might have about the exam).

And remember, as Ernest Hemingway said, writing is easy, “All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Hard things are hard, but if you chip away at it, it gets ever so slightly less difficult in an exam setting…

Best,

Jerome