PAT yourself on the back?

By Brandon Rennie

Every CAT teacher feels the pain of trying to get the Practical Assessment Task completed. The process feels endless and onerous. A strategy I’ve used before but did not last year (and I could kick myself for that), and one I’ve reemployed this year is to have my kids do a fair amount of their phase one on paper before committing it to the digital universe.

What’s the point you may ask? Or, isn’t it redundant – a computer based subject on paper? Well, I tell you why. And my experience may be different from yours.

It is accepted now that our children learn very differently than we used and I have found there appears to be a gap between what they are thinking and what ends up on the (electronic) page. So any child without exceptional written communication skills could fall into this group.

So I ambled off to the local vendor and purchase some A4 jotters. Remember them from when you were in primary school those many moons ago? And my learners write. They write their task definitions out – and they do this more than once to refine their thinking. They do this to ensure they ultimately have a task definition which will be useful and get them the marks. We then proceed with the focus question, with the research questions and so on and on.

You may feel it is a waste of time. I would agree with you except the one year that I didn’t do it this way I had the worst PAT results of my teaching career. I do this only for phase one because phase one is crucial to seeing the entire project to completion. A poorly devised phase one will lead to a vague and inconclusive final project.

We are attempting to teach computer skills but not in a vacuum so reading content, ensuring the content makes sense, ensuring conclusions are reached are vital skills which will stand our kids in good stead for tertiary education but also for future employment.

Whether or not you like the idea of the PAT the reality is it is 25% of their promotion mark. It is the difference in symbols and it certainly has proven to be the difference between passing and failing the subject.

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    1. I do that too and I find that it helps a lot, they get a better understanding of what they are doing and also helps them to come up with interesting ideas for their PATs! I make them write it at the back of their workbooks

    2. I have tried this once with my grade 12 IT-students and got very angry, irritated students not doing any effort at all… I am going to try it with my grade 10’s this year!