Jan 13 / Conor Maxwell

How to Set Up your Students for Success in their CBAs

The Classroom-Based Assessment (CBAs) are designed to take place over three weeks throughout the school year for second and third years, at designated times, with one CBA to be completed each year for each subject studied. The conclusion of the Christmas Break usually means the commencement of CBAs for students!

This blog post will give you some tips to set your students (and you!!) up for success while they are completing them.

Prior Exposure to Similar Tasks

Classroom-Based Assessments provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their understanding and skills in a way which would not be possible in a formal examination.

The assessments associated with CBAs cover a range of activities including oral tasks, written work of different types, practical or designing and making tasks, artistic performances, scientific experiments, projects or other suitable tasks depending on the subject in question.

Whatever task is to be completed in your subject it is advisable that the skill associated with the CBA is developed beforehand. For example, the first Maths CBA that students complete in second year is a problem-solving task. This doesn’t mean that this should be their first time engaging with the problem-solving cycle. This problem-solving skill needs to be worked on, and developed, long in advance of the CBA.

Now, this does not mean giving “mock CBAs’. It means giving students a chance to practice skills they are going to need as they move through their studies.

Have the discussion with your department colleagues about how this skill development can be built into your subject planning and give time to its development. Your students will see the benefit of it.

What does good work look like?

Whether we are drafting a policy, designing lessons, or crafting an essay for further studies being undertaken, I am sure I can speak for the majority of, if not all teachers, when I say things are made an awful lot easier for us when we can see what good work looks like and what is expected of us. This should be no different for our students. They need to know, and see, exactly what the standard is. This is where exemplars come in.  

The concrete nature of exemplars means that they are able to convey messages in a way that nothing else can. Carefully selected examples can not only help students to ‘see’ what is expected with regard to the task in hand  but they can also enable students to:  
  • gain a feel for what the final product looks like in terms of layout, structure and language  
  • raise awareness of the diverse ways a task might fruitfully be tackled
  • hone students’ evaluative skills.

The easiest way for me to share exemplars with my students was by uploading them onto OneNote.

I created a section in the subject NoteBook. I use a number system for all my sections in my NoteBook to keep everything organized and easily accessible for my students.

Below is a video I created on Wriggle Connect Teacher describing the structure of OneNote NoteBook. 
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I upload exemplars provided by both the NCCA and by my own students. Throughout their first and second year we ensure to give time to them to examine these exemplars.

It doesn’t have to be a significant amount of time, but it allows them to develop their evaluative skills and for them to become familiar with the idea of the Features of Quality.

Image 1: an example of my subject notebook where students have access to exemplars, features of quality and any tasks they are assigned to complete.
Example of my subject notebook where students have access to exemplars, features of quality and any tasks they are assigned to complete.
Typically, we read through the Features of Quality together before examining a small extract from one of the exemplars.

It can be as easy as examining the charts and calculations produced as we study statistics in class. Are the charts accurate and drawn neatly? Is there an appropriate scale used on the axes? What about the calculations? Can we spot any errors?

All of this, while simple to execute, is allowing students to hone in on what will eventually be expected of them. Students have a chat with each other about areas they felt were really strong about the project, and areas that could have been improved. Students,  as they say themselves, “love being like a mini-examiner”. It all means that when their time comes to complete their CBA, the intricacies of the process are second-nature to them. This approach can be applied to any CBA in any subject.
An example of a student task to review exemplars to get them into the mindset of what was involved in completing a CBA.

Schedules and Deadlines

Three weeks is a significant amount for students to work on one piece of work.

At this time, they need explicit instruction and clear guidelines as to when they need their work done for. I found it useful to have rough deadlines in place and available to them on the subject notebook. They could check in with these to assess their own progress and it made the final few days a lot easier on all of us when the final deadline was approaching.

A simple sample schedule for students to follow to help with the completion of CBAs.

Feedback

Feedback on performance is undoubtedly, one of the single most powerful influences on student achievement. It is highly important that as students move through the completion of their CBA that effective feedback is provided to move their progress forward. My biggest takeaway from this process? Use audio feedback.

Audio feedback has cut my correction time massively, while actually being able to give more feedback in that time. Students can listen to it in their own time, and as many times as they want. There is also an empathetic aspect to voice. My own students have reported that it’s a lot more personal to them and that they enjoy getting to listen to them.
One drawback to audio feedback on our subject notebook was that the audio clip could become lost easily by students. One of my colleagues had an idea to design a school banner that could be used to insert it on. This means students can easily find it when going back through their work.
An example of using a banner to highlight where the audio feedback is located.

Below is a video that teaches how to leave audio feedback on OneNote and make a banner. 
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Submission and Grading

Now for the tips that are going to make your life as a teacher easier! I can’t advocate enough for using the assignments feature on Teams to allow students to upload their work.

It centralizes everything for the teacher, meaning quick access to all of the CBAs, but it also makes corrections so much easier. To make your life easier, keep these things in mind:

Rubrics: Copy and paste the features of quality from the NCCA into the designated rubric section. This makes your corrections so much easier because you just have to select what descriptor each criteria of the CBA will get, before giving an overall grade. 
You can find out how to do this in the video below. 
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The features of quality set as the rubric for the assignment example.


Below is a sample image of my view correcting the assignment, and the rubric allowing me to easily assign a descriptor to each aspect of the CBA.

All in all, I find that, although they are very busy, students enjoy the CBA process. A lot of this comes down to the fact that for them, this type of task is second nature to them.

By making a few small adjustments and keeping these tips in mind, all students will be well equipped to complete their CBAs.


If you found this article useful, see more from Conor in blogs and courses created on Wriggle Connect. 

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About the Author

Conor Maxwell

Conor is a science, maths and coding teacher in Sandymount Park Educate Together Secondary School. Conor is ICT Coordinator in his school and gives training sessions top both his students and fellow teachers. He is a certified Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and Apple Certified Teacher and he believes strongly that when used effectively in the classroom, technology can have a transformational impact on student learning.
As a Wriggle Connect Ambassador, Conor is  always creating new courses on Wriggle Connect. 
To learn more about the courses available to teachers on the Wriggle Connect Platform, click on the courses section if you have a Wriggle Connect account, or sign up to the teacher training subscription available to primary school teachers here!