Teacher Carlotta

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Teacher Carlotta


Making the Most of External Exams-MADRID

This page deals with the external exams students take in the Autonomous Community of Madrid: TRINITY & CAMBRIDGE. Eventhough the information and the templates you can find here may be very useful to any English Language Teacher.

BRIEF INTRODUCTION


Teachers always feel the pressure when dealing with external exams. On the one hand because sometimes students seem weak at the beginning of the year. Some reasons we argue are: being inmature; learning difficulties; English becoming third when not fourth language; lack of compromise and responsability from the part of the student; etc.
On the other hand, we also feel too many eyes on us because, do not lie to ourselves, we are being assessed too.

To me, there are three key factors facing this time of the year and they go in the following order: 

1. TEACHERS' POSITIVE ATITTUDE: 

We cannot motivate students, engage them and pretend them to pass a exam when we are the first considering this really difficult when not impossible. With our attitude we tranfer our feelings to our students. Therefore, a positive attitude and an open mind will probably lead our students to succedd while a negative frame can only conduct all of us to the failure.

2. PROPER INFORMATION AND FORMATION:

Preparing students for external exams is a question of working with them hardly and constantly, accompaining our students in the process, taking a seat back just for getting a different point of view and observing; for nothing else. A Teacher that just ask the Language Assisstants to work with students for TRINITY or CAMBRIDGE tests is not doing his/her job properly. A good Teacher is the one who cares about the process and does something else than regular lessons for the purpose of the exam. To do so, firstly as Teachers we must know what is going on with these papers: parts of the test, duration, conditions, structure, assessment procedures, etc. Secondly, it is highly recommended we talk with Teachers who did these tests before: they can provide their experience with tips, ideas, recommendations, etc. Additionally the Coordinator of the Bilingual Programme of your School should give you all the information you need and apart of coordinating the process it is a good idea to work together preparing materials or making students to take a MOCK EXAM. Of course, to do this, you need also cooperation from others and somtimes it does not happen.

When a Teacher gets the feeling he/she has no idea how to operate with this issues, he needs to find HELP and attent to seminars, courses or workshops related to the topic we are dealing with. Sometimes it is easier and you just need a helping hand from a colleage. Consider that any teacher without "qualification" facilitates the failure for students. 

3. AN EARLY START:

The soon you start, the better. This is the way, since the very beginning of the Academic Year. So do not wait until January or February to start practicing tests.
The best way is to coordinate with all the Teachers working in the same level, get to some agreements and start preparing students for the specific tests' questions, language functions, structures, etc. An early start is itself a star.

THE TESTS 

& HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM

  • Trinity GESE 2-3
  • Trinity GESE 4-5
  • Cambridge KEY-PET


TRINITY G-2 & G-3 for Students in Year 2:

- Students facing Grades 2 & 3 will have to answer a set of questions from the part of the Examiner.
- The exam last 5-7 minutes. It consists on a conversation.
As the Grade 3 speaker of English can use the different tenses and prepositions specified in the syllabus (see overleaf) in addition to the language of Grades 1 and 2, they can now describe their daily routines and other events to the examiner, give very simple directions and describe what people are doing.They can also talk about their parents’ jobs and what they do in their free time.The Grade 3 examination is a stimulating communicative experience with the candidate interacting more with the examiner. Like all the GESE grades there is no script for the examiner to follow and they enjoy meeting their candidates as much as the candidates enjoy talking — in English! — with their examiner. (http://www.trinitycollege.co.uk/site/?id=1803)
Have a look at TRINITY SYLLABUSES' REQUIREMENTS at 

http://www.trinitycollege.co.uk/site/?id=1045

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO WORK ON GIVING PERSONAL INFORMATION: 

Here you have some simple questions to get into a conversation easily with one English speaker. You may be able to ask and answer these questions with no problems within the First Cycle.  

What’s your name? My name is Carlotta.
How are you? I’m fine, thank you. And you?
How old are you? I am thirty-one years old.
Where do you come from? Where are you from? I’m from Cantabria
Where do you live? I live in Madrid.
How long have you lived there? I have lived there for six years.
When is your birthday? My birthday is the nineteenth of August.
Have you got any brothers or sisters? No, I haven’t got any brothers, but I’ve got one sister.
What’s your sister’s name? Tell me about her. Free answer
What does your father/mother do? My father is an engineer and my mother is a teacher.
Have you got a lot of friends? Free answer
Who is your best friend? Tell me about him/her. Free answer
What do you like doing with your friends? Free answer
What do you like doing in your free time? Free answer
Do you have any hobbies? Free answer
Can you play musical instruments/swim/dance/drive a car…? Yes I can…. But I can’t… or No I can’t… but I can…
What do you usually do at the weekend? Free answer
What do you usually do in the summer when is hot? Free answer
What will you do this summer? I will…
Tell me about a typical day. Free answer


To study vocabulary you can ask students to go to http://www.mansioningles.com/vocabulario.htm

AND TO GIVE DIRECTIONS

Additionally Students will be asked to give directions over a simple town's map. In the following link students can practice and Teachers can get ideas: 
http://www.englishexercises.org/makeagame/viewgame.asp?id=1434

I HIGHLY RECOMEND YOU TO DO THIS PRACTICE SINCE THE VERY BEGINNING OF THE YEAR AND,  WHY NOT STARTING IN YEAR 1?

The following picture is an example of a simple town map which even Students can create in their Arts & Crafts class. (From http://bilingles1eso.blogspot.com.es/2011/02/giving-directions.html)



MOCK EXAMS MODEL FOR PREPARATION:

  • TRINITY G-4 & G-5 for Students in Year 4:
-  Students facing Grades 4 & 5 will have to answer a set of questions from the part of the Examiner.
- The exam last 10 minutes. It consists on a Topic discussion and a subsequent conversation about two other topics from a list. The examiner will choose some pictures to promp conversation.

A- Discussion of a topic prepared by the candidate (up to 5 minutes.)

B- Conversation on two subject areas selected by the examiner (up to 5 minutes.)



How do I do?
I present to you my personal calendar for Trinity. I hope you find it useful.

******Calendar******

1ST TERM
2ND TERM
3RD TERM






























TOPIC PHASE
1-List of students’ topics.
(Caution! Some topics are forbidden for each grades GESE4 and GESE5!)

2- Reason sheet: Why?

3- Cardboard with   post-its: one for each bubble. Important: in each post-it a sentence with the grammatical requirements of the level.

4-Write a paragraph supporting each sentence.

5- Teacher checks.
6- Start practicing your topic without reading your paragraphs. Be careful: no memorising!! LANGUAGE ASSISTANTS/TEACHERS use report to check the use of the required structures.

7- Rewrite your paragraphs as a whole writing. Use connectors.

8- Create a poster as a visual aid for your presentation.
4 bubbles=4 pictures/photos.
5 bubbles=5 pictures/photos.

9- When students go with the assistants/teachers to practice their topics, they start now using the appropriate exam formula: go to the examiner, knock on the door, hand out the paper (Good morning, can/may I come in? this is yours, I think this is for you; here you are; etc)

10- This is a good moment to make copies of the official reports and to make students write their sentences for each bubble on them as a draft. 

11- Teacher checks.

12- Develope MOCK exams. (Find some templates on this page)
Practice, practice and more practice.

We insist now in the appropriate exam formula.

The Teacher must find a time for each student to comment on the evolution of the topic presentation: commenting on the use of the structures and areas of improvement recorded in the report.

It is very important here the teacher’s attitude and the student’s awareness of his own weak areas in order to improve.

The official TRINITY REPORT FORMS will come to school soon; you have to make students transfer with nice neat writing their bubbles in the draft you did in the second term. This must be done under you own supervision because these official papers are very important and you should keep at school until you give to the candidate prior to enter in the exam room.





CONVERSATION PHASE
1-Once you place students provisionally at their Trinity levels, provide them with lists of vocabulary to learn.
2-Every lesson do a warm up vocabulary game/activity: song, whiteboards, dictation, miming, body language, etc.

TOPIC PHASE:
I will explain some steps in a more detailed way to help you to organice your work. In my opinion, the preparation of the topic is the part which really stress teachers: the lack of time, the amount of students, the particularities of each topic...  apart from the curriculum you have to work on during the academic year. Do not forget that these external exams demand TRAINING TECHNIQUES and we have to work on our programme and contents too. It is a huge work from the part of the Teacher but, hopefully, my templates and timetable could help you at some point making your work easier and a little bit more comfortable. I have spent some years to get to this so I pretend this blog to be a time-saver for you.

1. Students have to choose a topic: something close to them; something they really like. But... be careful: if they are in GESE 4 some topics cannot be chosen, those that are possible for the conversation phase. For the same reason, if they are in GESE 5 some topics cannot be chosen neither. Have a look at the TRINITY SYLLABUSES' REQUIREMENTS at

http://www.trinitycollege.co.uk/site/?id=1045

Click on the following link to find the Topics Students Can and Cannot Use for grades GESE 4 and 5.

For the further steps in the creation of topics the Teacher has to control many students and many aspects according to this plan. The following checklist report can be helpful for you at this point:

Students fulfillment of tasks checklist



2. Students have to say why they chose that topic.

Print for them a template they hace to complete.

Trinity Grade 5
Name of the Candidate: ______________________________________________________

My topic is ________________________________________________________.
I have chosen* this topic because ____________________________________________.

Teacher Carlotta San Emeterio Bedia
Master TEFL, Specialist in Bilingualism

*Since the beginning of the year we are introducing our G5 students to the structure of the Present Perfect Simple, without explanations and in a really easy-going and natural way.


Trinity Grade 4
Name of the Candidate: ______________________________________________________

My topic is ________________________________________________________.
I chose** this topic because _________________________________________________.

Teacher Carlotta San Emeterio Bedia
Master TEFL, Specialist in Bilingualism

**With students taking G4 we do similar but, instead of using Present Perfect Simple for giving reaons, they will use Past Simple.

3. Ask students to write one sentence for each "buble" of their topic:

In a A4 cardboard, at the centre the glue the "topic+reasons" paper they have done in the previous step (2). Around it they will place the same number of post-its as bubles they have to write in the official template of the real exam.
  • Grade 4- 4 bubles
  • Grade 5- 5 bubles
We Work on this on at a time. This is, each buble needs a lesson to be done. Students need to assimilate and understand what they are doing, I did for example Trinity Thursdays with the whole class. It is not easy because you have to explain them at the same time what to do those in G4 and those in G5. I divided the whiteboard in two parts and I explain individually to both groups. Anyway, you need to go then one by one to check understanding.

For example, I write these on the board:

      STUDENTS GESE 4 in Post it 1 (yellow): I like......

      STUDENTS GESE 5 in Post it 1 (yellow): I rather prefer...... than.....

I asked them to complete the sentence with a drawing in the post-it.

Using different colours for each week's bubble is also very helpful when you check understanding and fulfillment of tasks.


The sentences they write in the post it MUST CORRESPONDE with one of the grammar functions required for that grade. This is why it is very important that you, as teacher, guide the task bubble by bubble.


4. Students will develope written paragraphs from the sentences they have in each post it-bubble.

It is very useful to use a template here. Bubble by Bubble writing form

5. Students start to present their topic as a whole, keeping speaking on during about 5 minutes with language assistants/teacher. The listeners should record progress and performance for further feedback. The following templates can be useful for you.

A. Topic Presentation Practice Grade 4

B. Topic Presentation Practice Grade 5


8. Students make a poster so support their oral presentation of their topics. They can draw, glue photos, materials, etc.



10. Make copies of the Trinity Exam Form with the bubbles and ask students to copy their sentences in their cardboards they did before. You should ckeck all of them one by one.





Trinity Materials & Resources:



  1. TOPIC PHASE:

1.1 TRINITY WEBSITE offers a wide range of support materials.

1.2 TOPIC FORM FILES:



 https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B6t8KuD9HViOV3dQMkZsSGxWLW8



1.3 GETTING READY: DO YOUR OWN PRACTICE


When I was Bilingualism Coordinator, I offer Teachers the possibitity of developing MOCK EXAMS to help students to get used to topics presentation. This allows all of the crew's members to get a really positive atmosphere of cooperative work and to share and exchange points of view about students attainment and development level.


Dealing with G4 & G5 I have developed the following DocS. to assess students' progress in their topics preparation.


Mind that G4 & G5's reports cover just the topic phase.

2. CONVERSATION PHASE:


2.1 Festivals

·        What do people in your country do at Easter? How long have they celebrated in this way?

·        Have you ever been to a festival in Rio, Venice or Seville?

·        Have you ever been to a festival of food, dance or singing?

·        What will you do next New Year?

2.2 Means of transport

·        Which do you prefer: riding a bike or walking, or going by bus or train? Why?

·        Is it safe to ride a bike in your town?

·        In the future, will more people drive to work or take the bus?

·        How did you get to school today?

2.3 Special occasions, e.g. birthday celebrations

·        What did you do on your last birthday?

·        What will you do on your next birthday?

·        How does your family celebrate your mother’s birthday?

·        Do you prefer to celebrate special occasions at home, or would you rather go to a restaurant for a celebration?

2.4 Entertainment, e.g. cinema, television, clubs

·        What’s your favourite TV show? How long have you liked it?

·        What was the last film you saw?

·        Do you watch a lot of DVDs?

·        Do you prefer comedies, dramas or action films? Why?

2.5 Music

·        Have you ever been to a pop concert?

·        Which do you prefer: rock music or pop music?

·        Have you ever played a musical instrument, or would you like to play one?

·        How often do you buy CDs, download songs, or swap music with your friends?

2.6 Recent personal experiences
·        When was the last time you went to a disco, bought a book, or cooked a meal?
·        Have you ever failed an exam?
·        What did you do last Sunday?
·        What have you done since you left home this morning?
 

TO HELP STUDENTS IN CHOSING AND DEVELOPING A TOPIC, SEE MY WIKI FOR STUDENTS
http://clilingmesoftly.wikispaces.com/Trinity



CAMBRIDGE KET for Schools & PET for Schools for Students in Year 6: 

TIPS:
- Start working on the test since the very beginning of the Academic Year:
  1. Ask students to take a placement test
    (http://www.cambridgeesol.org/test-your-english/index.php?page=survey&surveyID=7)
  2. Sometimes we think students are in one determined level and other point of view is really useful to avoid personalization. Having a good coordination at School should help Teachers to create real test-situations.
  3. Give samples of Reading Comprehension papers weekly, so students can get used to the exam format. REMEMBER TEST TECHNIQUES ARE NEEDED!!! This exams have a really important factor of training.
  4. Work on writings again weekly!! Having a mail contact with students facilitates this task enormously, since the are very fond of New Technologies and communicates much more than with usual methods.Teach then since the very beginning e-mails' format, stories and letters.
  5. Establish the Language Assisstants' Routine ASAP: 
    1. Working with small groups on the Oral-Skills (listening + Speaking)
    2. Using digital resources for the purpose of listenings and to watch videos of other students doing the oral part in pairs.
    3. Making MOCK-EXAMS simulating same routines than those demanded in the Oficial KET/PET
Finally, among other ideas, I consider very important that students realise about their own progress and level. Assessing skills individually instead of giving an English reagular-test mark is going to be an amazing resource for students. It is awsome even for Teachers, when you had an iadea about one student's progress and all of a sudden a skills exam shows you something new!! "Well, no reading-comprehension; no writing skills; low listening-speakin... but wow! great grammar and language use understanding!! NOW I KNOW WHAT TO WORK AND I ONLY NEED TO GET TO THE HOW!!"

To facilitates your analysis I always recommend to make an oficial exam once a month, so your students and yourself can get a really good idea about the progress. Making graphs at the end of the term/year, should be a really good tool for those more visual.

To know more things about how do I work the 4 skills to prepare these exams and to work in daily lessons, visit the Assessment page.

SAMPLE PAPERS , TEST FORMAT & INSTRUCTIONS (From Cambridge site):

Getting Ready for the KET-for Schools exam? A-2 Common European Framework

Exam Format: http://www.cambridgeesol.org/exams/ket-schools/index.html#tab3

Paper Content Time Weighting
external image 116439_icon_reading.gif 9 parts/56 questions 1 hour 10 minutes 50%
external image 116438_icon_listening.gif 5 parts/25 questions 30 minutes (inc. 8 minutes' transfer time) 25%
external image 116454_icon_speaking.gif 2 parts 8-10 minutes per pair 25%
Information for Candidates:
http://www.cambridgeesol.org/assets/pdf/exams/ket-schools/ket-schools-info-candidates-en.pdf
Vocabulary List: This is the language you should know.
http://www.cambridgeesol.org/assets/pdf/exams/ket-schools/ket-schools-vocab-list.pdf

Materials for Self Study:

Sample Papers
Speaking Test Preparation Pack Sample Worksheet (No. 5)

Getting Ready for the PET-for Schools exam? B-1 Common European Framework

Exam Format: http://www.cambridgeesol.org/exams/pet-schools/index.html#tab3


Paper Content Time Weighting
external image 116439_icon_reading.gif Reading has 5 parts/35 questions;
Writing has 3 parts/7 questions
1 hourr 30 minutes 50%
external image 116438_icon_listening.gif 4 parts/25 questions About 30 minutes
(inc. 6 minutes' transfer time)
25%
external image 116454_icon_speaking.gif 4 parts 10-12 minutes per pair 25%
Information for Candidates: http://www.cambridgeesol.org/assets/pdf/exams/pet-schools/pet-schools-info-candidates-en.pdf
Vocabulary Lists: This is the language you should know. http://www.cambridgeesol.org/assets/pdf/exams/pet-schools/pet-schools-vocab-list.pdf
Sample Papers
Speaking Test Preparation Pack Sample Worksheet (No. 4)

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