What makes a good assignment?
This term, the Year 7 and 8 students had to complete a creative assignment for which they had a variety of options from which to choose. These ranged from practical tasks supported by explanatory theory, including dioramas and masks, to written assignments like articles and essays. All were aimed at revealing student understanding and interpretation of a literary text.
The Year 7’s focused on the drama Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, and the Year 8 students centered theirs around the novel Lord of the Flies, by William Goulding.
Having taught English for many years, I have seen students produce assignments that were of the highest standard, with insight and creativity beyond their years. In stark contrast to this, many students put little to no effort into their work, belying their capabilities.
I am pleased to say that the majority of students at Blouberg International School had my soul singing with their astute, inspired and detailed projects. What is more important is that they took on the challenge and were, through their intensive efforts, beaming with pride in themselves.
One might wonder what it takes to produce a project that will bring a teacher to joyful tears.
Beyond carefully following the instructions and ensuring that all of the necessities are included – which will certainly result in a good mark – there are a few ingredients every student could add to their scholastic recipes.
Below is a list of strategies every student should attempt when tackling their next daunting assignment:
- Begin with the task as soon as it is assigned. Even if you work on it a little every other day, this will provide ample opportunity to clarify concerns you may have with your teacher or to correct any mishaps that may arise.
- Pay attention to the instructions. Use it as a check list to ensure that you have included all of the elements essential to the task. Tackle every objective.
- Use the resources your teacher provides, but conduct your own research as well. There are many reliable sources online.
- When compiling your research data, use only key words and phrases from your sources and rewrite information in your own words unless quoting. Always cite your sources. Your teacher wants to test your skills and understanding, not that of a university graduate – or a parent.
- Include your own opinion, but ensure that it is backed by fact. One should not have the opportunity to question your ideas, they should clearly link to accurate information.
- Thoroughly edit your assignment to safeguard against any trivial errors.
- Work as neatly as possible. A task that is well-organised and tidy immediately appears of a higher quality and will be more pleasant to assess. It is arduous for teachers to mark work that is illegible or poorly structured.
- Use your own initiative, be as creative as possible within the task framework and go the extra mile. Teachers revel in the little details you include and enjoy it when you think outside of the box, sometimes astounding us with components beyond that of the grade requirements and insights we might not have considered.
Students who used all or most of these strategies in this term’s assignments deserve an honourable mention:
– Catherine Fortuin 7B designed a beautiful diorama for which she created clay figures on a stage setting in the throws of an important fight scene between Romeo and Tybalt. Her talent and attention to detail is admirable.
– Marco de Mattos 7A cleverly included a public announcement and advert with his article about the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.
– Maya Mthwana of 7A designed a well-written, neat article, closely adhering to layout requirements.
– Mihlali Lumkwana of 7A went to great lengths to create her storyboard for Act IV in Romeo and Juliet.
– Ryan Barker in 8A put great effort into his Lord of the Flies Survival Manual. He’s the one with whom you want to end up stranded on a deserted island.
– Vincent Chamunorwa, 8B, designed an inspiring cartoon for Chapter 11 of Lord of the Flies. He has incredible talent!
– Athena Thomas, 8B, has a gift for watercolour painting. Her contributing explanation as to what Piggy’s glasses in Lord of the Flies represents was thorough.
– Philade Luthango’s poster (8A) about the character, Piggy, immediately caught everyone’s attention due to its bold design and beautiful drawings.
– Layla Moodley, 8A, went the extra mile by designing a symbol to represent each chapter in her plot diagram of Lord of the Flies.
– Taylor Williams, 8A, not only painted an extremely detailed image of the conch from Lord of the Flies, but ingeniously included symbols associated with it and presented her explanation on a creatively designed poster. Her attention to detail is admirable.
– Mia Ross in 8B moulded these fantastic masks to her own face and painted them to represent characters from Lord of the Flies. There is even symbolism in the colours used.
– Oscar Berger, 8B, wrote a fantastic essay in which he explored the theme of Civilization versus Savagery in Lord of the Flies. His oral presentation was accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation filled with bold sub-headings and images to bring his points home. This was a far better option than simply reading out his essay.
There are more students I could individually praise, but alas I will simply state that I am ever so proud of all of the Year 7 and 8 students as I know that they put in their best effort.
High School English Teacher
Last term the Year 5 and Year 6 lessons focused on preparing the students in compiling a written presentation in German.
The presentation was comprised of 3 sections.
Section 1- Greeting & Questions:
The students included a greeting (eine Begrüßung) at the beginning of the presentation and were required to ask the class the following questions:
Wie geht’s? – How are you?
Wie ist das Wetter heute? – How is the weather today?
Section 2 – Introducing themselves:
Wie heißt du? – What is your name?
Wann ist dein Geburtstag? – When is your birthday?
Wie alt bist du? – How old are you?
Wo wohnst du? – Where do you live?
Was ist deine Adresse? – What is your address? (To practice saying your address in German.)
Section 3 – Introducing my Family (meine Familie) and my pets (meine Haustiere):
Wie viele? – How many? e.g. sisters or brothers.
Name – names of your family members. Including some uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents.
Geburtsdatum – Date of birth including date, months and years. (For extensive practice of the German numbers and dates).
Alter – Ages (write the numbers in words.)
This also included the preparation of a poster/PowerPoint or other resources to assist the student in presenting the above sections to the class.
It was very important for the student to use the format and structure required (i.e. follow the instructions), the appropriate vocabulary and pronunciation (as practised in class), the correct grammar and sentence construction, to ensure that the rest of the class would also be able to understand their presentation.
Then after much preparation, time for the presentations arrived. The students’ hard work in class really paid off in the quality of the presentations.
Star certificates for overall outstanding presentations awarded to:
Year 6 – Mia Bezuidenhout and Riley Hanning
Year 5- Akhula Qwemesha,Saumya Maharaj, Aiden Brandt, Faith Chivaka, Morgan Glanville, Amanda Nkomo
Well done and thank you Year 5 and Year 6 it was great to hear all about you and your family!
Primary School German Teacher
During the course of your child’s educational career they will be required to participate in projects, posters, models and presentations in many of their subjects. Some students prefer this method of learning, reveling in the creativity they can display, while others groan and moan about what the point is. Posters and models are not implemented just for display. They have significant value in the learning process and stimulating cognitive development. Yes, they do brighten up a classroom and provide relief from the normal assessment routine, but really, what is the point?
Projects, posters and models can have quite a positive effect on the process of learning. The advantage of these types of activities is that it promotes team work and understanding, along with facilitating creative thinking, extensive research and reading. It provides students with an opportunity to learn by doing, in turn strengthening their understanding of the concepts being explored. Students are able to visually represent the key points and while presenting, elaborate on the topic which facilitates their retention and recall of events and facts. Projects, posters, model making and presentation are also effective tools for evaluating the students’ knowledge and creates opportunities for active discussion and participation. Be it the traditional posters, handmade models or technologically advanced computer presentations it is evident that they can actively engage students in the learning process.
(credit source: The professional learning board)
The year 7’s produced models of volcanoes with Mr Alex Fraqueiro this term in their quest to find out more about our earth and what goes on inside it. This activity helped them to identify they key features of volcanoes and what makes them erupt. They produced some beautiful and physically correct models of Strato-volcanoes (composite volcanoes) and thoroughly enjoyed the learning process behind it.
Janine van Niekerk
High School Geography