Though we are in the middle of our A Level Politics inquiry into Pressure Groups, I wanted to post a quick update on my collaboration with Jenny on FOSIL-ising essay planning. We still have some tinkering to do on the Connect, Wonder and Investigate stages of the essay wraps, and I need to recalibrate the wording and signposting I use.
Nevertheless, a throwaway student remark last week, about these FOSIL essay wraps, reminded me how valuable our collaboration thus far has been. An able student, who unapologetically has their ‘own way of learning’, said (through gritted teeth) “I don’t like it, but it works”. Fine by me! It is not the first time that resources that I have helped to create have been greeted with such ‘praise’. I have previously utilised the SOLO Taxonomy to produce planning maps for GCSE History. My most able students, who already seemed to have all of the necessary ingredients for success, put up substantial resistance to my new resources. But they understood the process it took them through, and utilised it to great effect.
Sometimes eating your vegetables isn’t the most pleasant aspect of the meal (though I have to say, FOSIL resources all look and taste delicious). If even the most sceptical students can see value in the structure provided by FOSIL wraps, then we are having a positive impact on their mindset and learning habits. The whole premise of the FOSIL cycle is that it becomes, after early scaffolding and modelling, second nature to the students. If we have to firmly nudge students into making good use of the amazing resources at their disposal to begin with, by, for example, marking not only the essay, but the entire FOSIL cycle of the wrap, then so be it. To produce effective metacognition amongst my students, I have to teach them how to do it in the first place.
And this brings me back to the value of FOSIL collaboration again; the FOSIL cycle and subject-specific assessment objectives complement each other – you just need to carve out that small piece of time in your term to get your heads together.