command terms

This staff workshop activity, which can be used in a whole staff or departmental meeting. The document is set out in a similar fashion to the Command Term Glossary in that it gives a definition of the command term and the subjects where the command term may turn up in the final exams (and visual arts, a non-exam subject). The activity allows teachers to comment on the following for the command terms that are used in their subject`s assessments, as well as discussing them with teachers from other subjects:

  • How is the term applied in your subject?

  • What approaches to teaching and learning are used to support students?

The paper with each command term on also shows the subject where the command term applies. Teachers are asked to write their subject next to their comment so other teachers know who to talk to for any follow up information. This activity can be used to start cross curricular peer observations, as well as build a bank of command terms activities. 

The activity is set up with a variety of command terms spread around the room. Teachers from different subjects are put into groups. Each group goes round the room in timed intervals discussing, comparing and contrasting how the command term is used in their subject and the different teaching and learning activities that they use to teach students how to use the command term and best prepare them for the exams and assessments. This gives staff the opportunity to learn from each other and pick up new teaching and learning strategies. It will hopefully lead to teachers gaining a more in-depth idea about the experiences students face in different subjects, as well as building their knowledge of the different ways each command term can be approached. This activity also allows staff to see that although Biology and English A, for example, are different subjects in different groups, they both ask students to use the same skill of `explain`. It is worthwhile for the English A and Biology teacher to get together to discuss how they get students to use the skill, both in the classroom and in preparation for the exams.

This activity can lead to a greater understanding of what is involved in both subjects and lead to teachers finding similarities, which can result in closer collaboration in future. It helps staff understand that students are not only assessed in knowledge recall but a variety of different skills, many of which overlap into subjects, which on the face of it look like they don`t have much in common.

As the groups move around the room, the documents asks them to write the name of their subject next to each comment they write, this is so teachers in different groups know who to approach if they see a comment that they would like to discuss further with the teacher.