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An important assessment question, the TESOLANZ AGM and the NZQA Roadshow

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Last updated by Breda Matthews

Hi everyone,

   We have had an exciting week back finished off by the TESOLANZ AGM in Tauranga. It was a great event with over 70 participants from all three sectors. But before I report on that I’d like to remind you about the NZQA Roadshow - English Language - Supporting Consistent Assessment Practice


Registration for Auckland is now closed BUT if you missed the closing date or find that the session you want to go to is full PLEASE still register. If there  are enough people on the wait list, it may be possible to run additional sessions


A second issue I'd like to highlight is Bev Steward's question about the grading of a student’s work. One of Bev’s students spoke beautifully and with a great deal of detail. The student used other verb forms correctly but the past simple was weak. Bev believes that the student

Deserves Merit for fluency and for well-developed ideas but is struggling to do so because of the restrictions of the assessment schedule. This states that for Merit ‘Candidate talks about the past, present and future, using a range of appropriate verb forms correctly’.  Bev’s question is  - Can she give a Merit even though her use of the past simple was weak? What are your thoughts?

And finally to the TESOLANZ AGM


Averil Coxhead was the keynote speaker and it was great to hear her research. She has recently been looking at the first 3000 words in other languages and in trades English. Her finding indicate that even in an area of learning such as plumbing which has some highly technical language (we learnt about dwangs and splarges) and a reasonable number of words of Anglo-Saxon origin,   fluency in the first 300 words of English remains critical.


Averil’s presentation reminded me that my vocabulary programme needs to involve planning (on my part), strategy training, testing and teaching, in that order. As a result I will have to review my programme!


Mark Dawson-Smith’s presentation on assessment has also led me to review my own practice but I will leave telling you about this until next week. I would be lovely if another participant could share the things they have taken away from any of the presentations.


Another topic that came up for discussion in the AGM was Digital Technologies and the move towards online assessment for NCEA. Some ELLs will face significant challenges in this area and as ELLS we need to advocate that any digital dive is addressed and reduced. In this context I was interested to read David Schaumann reflection in English Online which I have copied below.


I’ve been thinking about the difference in strategy students taking the digital examination in English might employ, and the significant advantage this might give them over students who use pen and paper.  Our students have just completed the digital trial at Level One.  They are all pretty competent in a 1:1 device setting, and therefore all pretty fair typists.  Consequently, they have produced much longer essays than they would previously have done. I’m not sure that this is a huge advantage, given NZQA’s emphasis on shorter responses.  However, what they would have the opportunity to do is craft their work - if they can type quickly, they can build in time to edit and refine - and, of course, word processing is a much better medium for this.   Might this not create an inequity, if one group of students has time to craft and refine, whilst others do not?  Or cannot do so so easily?  Would be interested in your thoughts.  



On other communities

English Online shared Anne Milne’s keynote from ULearn Cultural identity and community in whitestream schools

Secondary Literacy Online discussed unpacking the Learning Progressions Framework

Have great week everyone.
Kind regards


Breda Matthews

Facilitator: Secondary ESOL community 


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