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#1 Dom_Giles

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 06:55 PM

I don't have it in front of me now, but I am sure that in this Mays IGCSE source paper there was a question which asked the candidates if they were "surprised" by a source.

I've seen this once before in an IGCSE paper and am stumped by it. It doesn't seem like a fair question to me. What do they really mean by it? What is a good answer to this type of question?

Any ideas?

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#2 Richard Drew

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 07:27 PM

in my sociology AS class we would argue that the term "surprised" needs to be operationalised. what you mean by surprised may differ greatly from a student's meaning, and that could differ again from the examiners meaning.

i would presume that they mean: does it contradict your knowledge of the issue/person, is it the opposite of what you would expect to be reading in the context of the source.

presumably they are looking for an answer that says,

"Yes i am surprised because i would expect ......................... and instead we have ................."

but i am just trying to guess, and your students would be equally in the dark.
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#3 Richard Jones-Nerzic

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 01:53 PM

You're right on both counts. This type of question had appeared twice and no it's not fair.

May 2002, Question 2 - Soviet newsagency report 'Are you surprised by this source'? and May 2003, Question 2 - Schuschnigg source same question.

Last May my students came out of the exam and this was all they talk about. This year we did the May 2002 paper a week before the exam and again the students were bemused by the question. Fortunately, I spent some time going over possible answers based on the examiners report but made the mistake of saying that the examiners would never ask should a stupid question twice!

I can only assume the examiners were pleased with the level of differentiation achieved by the question in 2002. Their report hints as much. Top level answers required students to comment on the reliability of the source with best marks going to those who applied contextual knowledge and/or other sources. So why didn't the examiners ask that?

I thought Dan, JohnDClare and others made a number of excellent observations about question setting in theirposts about the domestic exams. As John said:

I've complained about the questions in History GCSE exams for a long time. They add another layer of difficulty to what is alteady a conceptually hard subject for my pupils to appropriate. What the questions do is add a layer of obscurity over the facts, concepts and skills - so we have to TEACH the pupils how to recognise/deal with different ways the question might be presented/ what the questions really mean.When my pupils know what the question is really asking, they can often answer it very well. The problem is that so often the real import of the question just goes over the top of their heads.


Paper 2 IGCSE is a difficult paper in general. I made myself do it this summer and had a stinking headache at the end. What is most bizarre is that it is considerably more difficult than IB Paper 1. I teach IGCSE to a depth not required by the IB and as a consequence students actually have to unlearn certain techniques not required by IB for analysing the content of a source.

Anyway, I'm just delighted that someone else on this forum is doing IGCSE history. And he's a Billy Bragg fan...

Try again: 'All they taught you school was how to be a good worker...'
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#4 Richard Jones-Nerzic

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 01:54 PM

You're right on both counts. This type of question had appeared twice and no it's not fair.

May 2002, Question 2 - Soviet newsagency report 'Are you surprised by this source'? and May 2003, Question 2 - Schuschnigg source, same question.

Last May my students came out of the exam and this was all they could talk about. This year we did the May 2002 paper a week before the exam and again the students were bemused by the question. Fortunately, I spent some time going over possible answers based on the examiners report but made the mistake of saying that the examiners would never ask a stupid question twice!

I can only assume the examiners were pleased with the level of differentiation achieved by the question in 2002. Their report hints as much. Top level answers required students to comment on the reliability of the source with best marks going to those who applied contextual knowledge and/or other sources. So why didn't the examiners ask for this?

I thought Dan, JohnDClare and others made a number of excellent observations about question setting in theirposts about the domestic exams. As John said:

I've complained about the questions in History GCSE exams for a long time. They add another layer of difficulty to what is alteady a conceptually hard subject for my pupils to appropriate. What the questions do is add a layer of obscurity over the facts, concepts and skills - so we have to TEACH the pupils how to recognise/deal with different ways the question might be presented/ what the questions really mean.When my pupils know what the question is really asking, they can often answer it very well. The problem is that so often the real import of the question just goes over the top of their heads.


Paper 2 IGCSE is a difficult paper in general. I made myself do it this summer and had a stinking headache at the end. What is most bizarre is that it is considerably more difficult than IB Paper 1. I teach IGCSE to a depth not required by the IB and as a consequence students actually have to unlearn certain techniques not required by IB for analysing the content of a source.

Anyway, I'm just delighted that someone else on this forum is doing IGCSE history. And he's a Billy Bragg fan...

Try again: 'All they taught you at school was how to be a good worker...'

Edited by Richard Jones-Nerzic, 11 July 2003 - 01:56 PM.

All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.
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#5 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 06:06 PM

Try again: 'All they taught you at school was how to be a good worker...'

"...The system has failed you, don't fail yourself"

Regret I cheated by punching your line into Google :whistle:

Am somewhat ignorant about Billy Bragg. I clearly need to broaden my musical knowledge so thanks for whetting my appetite.

What do you recommend for starters?

#6 Dom_Giles

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 07:12 PM

Richard, I couldn't agree more. I currently only teach IGCSE in a 11-16 school but have taught IB for 4 years and IGCSE Paper 2 is much harder that IB Paper 1.

I am furious with CIE for asking this stupid question about "surprise".

Thanks for your comments and those of Mr. Drew. Pretty much what I was thinking. Do you think it's safe to say they won't ask it again next time???

This year we are doing the exam in November, so i can let you know what the qiestions were if that will help you at all?

Looks like we're going to have to educate Carole on the worderful world of Billy.

Carole, for classic Billy Bragg, try "Back to Basics"

Thinking is SO important Baldrick. What do YOU think?
I think thinking is SO important, my Lord.


#7 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 08:01 PM

Looks like we're going to have to educate Carole on the worderful world of Billy.

Carole, for classic Billy Bragg, try "Back to Basics"

Never too late to learn :)

Have just ordered 'Back to Basics'. Will let you know what I think of BB later.

#8 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 09:01 PM

Though I quite like Billy Bragg and his music I'd never have envisaged the day when it was recommended to a retired lady! Carole, do you know what you're letting yourself in for??? :lol:

Ever tried The Smiths? They released some fantastic songs with an educational theme. I actually have a quote from one of their finer tunes above my desk in the year leaders office at work, something for the children to reflect upon as they get an ear bashing... a prize of a pint is offered to the first person to guess the quote correctly (Unless it's Abby who works with me in which case she can buy me one on account of her none stop lurking on the forum)

#9 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 11 July 2003 - 09:58 PM

Though I quite like Billy Bragg and his music I'd never have envisaged the day when it was recommended to a retired lady! Carole, do you know what you're letting yourself in for??? :lol:

Ever tried The Smiths? They released some fantastic songs with an educational theme. I actually have a quote from one of their finer tunes above my desk in the year leaders office at work, something for the children to reflect upon as they get an ear bashing... a prize of a pint is offered to the first person to guess the quote correctly (Unless it's Abby who works with me in which case she can buy me one on account of her none stop lurking on the forum)

Re BB - No. Don't know what I'm lettting myself in for, but I've read the lyrics of the song referred to above and am happy to give it a whirl. If I don't like the CD I can always flog it (here?)

I may be retired (just) - but "lady" ? - I don't know about that ;) I'm an early '60s child and grew up on protest songs. Marched with CND etc.


Don't know The Smiths either, but will give them a try too. Recommendations?

[You guys are a bit inclined to pigeonhole people you know :blink: ]

#10 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 12 July 2003 - 07:34 AM

[quote name='Carole Faithorn' date='Jul 11 2003, 10:58 PM'] [QUOTE
I may be retired (just) - but "lady" ? - I don't know about that ;) I'm an early '60s child and grew up on protest songs.  Marched with CND etc.


Don't know The Smiths either, but will give them a try too. Recommendations?

[You guys are a bit inclined to pigeonhole people you know :blink: ] [/quote]
Never been told off for calling someone a lady before! :D

For the Smiths, try the 'best of...' CD.It's been out ages so should be a bargain basement purchase - or I could just stick a spare copy of a CD in with the cheque I need to send you (which WILL be done this weekend).

#11 Richard Jones-Nerzic

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Posted 12 July 2003 - 07:46 AM

Do you think it's safe to say they won't ask it again next time???

They have never asked the 'surprised' question in November. This suggests to me they have a different set of examiners for southern and northern hemisphere. Prepare the kids for it anyway. Once they have been taught how to answer it, it is quite a useful question. I get the board to send me the November papers but I don't receive them until Jan/Feb. So maybe we can have a discussion about them in November?

By the way have you seen my IGCSE History site? If you are doing the 20th century core (particularly with Germany option) you should find some of it useful. This section on past question topics for Paper 1 might be useful for your students going into the November exams. I have been hoping (through this forum) to find some IGCSE teachers interested in helping me develop the site. As you will know more than most, teaching in international schools can be a lonely business! Maybe we could do some collaborative work with our students. I have a very small Year 10 class next year, which will make some of my usual group work quite difficult to manage. Group work across the continents could be an interesting experiment.

Carole, for classic Billy Bragg, try "Back to Basics"

Agreed. As historians, some sort of chronological structure is important. For full effect you need to transport youself back to the Falklands/Miners 80s and listen to the songs with a walkman on the top deck of a bus, while not really going anywhere. Expect a man who can't really sing and a tinny guitar; you'll have to imagine the big nose.

Ever tried The Smiths? They released some fantastic songs with an educational theme. I actually have a quote from one of their finer tunes above my desk in the year leaders office at work, something for the children to reflect upon as they get an ear bashing... a prize of a pint is offered to the first person to guess the quote correctly


Wow Dan, this takes me back to the 6th form arguments about respective merits of the two finest songwriters of that generation. It was impossible to hold the view that were 'both rather good actually'. I still believe that Bragg was/is superior, but now you've got me going all nostalgic...

As for the competition, my first guess is 'The Headmaster Ritual'

Belligerent ghouls
run Manchester schools
spineless *astards all
Sir leads the troops
jealous of youth
same old jokes since 1902
he does the military two-step
down the nape of my neck


My wife bought me 'Songs that Saved Your Life' for my birthday, have you read it? That I enjoyed it as much as I did, shows how much I've come on since the 6th form. What about a recommendation for Carole? Unlike, Braggy who has no compilation, the Smiths have many. 'Louder than Bombs' is the best compilation (Dan?) which you should be able to pick up cheap. But Meat is Murder has the Headmaster Ritual and The Queen is Dead has Cemetary Gates, my personal favourite. Decisions, decisions... Can you tell I'm on holiday?

Edited by Richard Jones-Nerzic, 12 July 2003 - 08:29 AM.

All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke


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#12 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 12 July 2003 - 08:30 AM

Louder than bombs is good. For a newcomer to the Smiths the reissued, repackaged 'Best of...' might be a better bet though, covers the whole range of their career whereas Louder than bombs misses out much of the earlier stuff.

Good guess for the quote but not the right one - couldn't get away with the line about 'spineless *astards' really, especially as my head is from Manchester. She might not understand!

As for the IB question - it's certainly a strange question to ask at that level. The issues that need to be taken into account when answering a question of that nature strike me as being rather more complicated that you'd expect an average student to be able to cope with.

#13 Richard Jones-Nerzic

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Posted 12 July 2003 - 09:05 AM

As for the IB question - it's certainly a strange question to ask at that level.

Even stranger is that it is from an IGCSE exam, not IB.

As to the Smiths, if 'Bastard' is out, then so is Handsome Devil I suppose:

A boy in the bush
is worth two in the hand
I think I can help you get through your exams
oh you handsome devil


...you did say your deputy HoY was a woman.

Sorry.

How about this, same song:

I crack the whip
and you skip
but you deserve it
you deserve it, deserve it, deserve it

Edited by Richard Jones-Nerzic, 12 July 2003 - 09:12 AM.

All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke


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#14 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 12 July 2003 - 10:27 AM

Never been told off for calling someone a lady before! :D

For the Smiths, try the 'best of...' CD.It's been out ages so should be a bargain basement purchase - or I could just stick a spare copy of a CD in with the cheque I need to send you (which WILL be done this weekend).

I wasn't telling you off Dan.

A spare CD would be great - then I can send it back if I don't like them.

Do you still have the PM with my home address?

#15 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 12 July 2003 - 10:39 AM

As historians, some sort of chronological structure is important. For full effect you need to transport youself back to the Falklands/Miners 80s and listen to the songs with a walkman on the top deck of a bus, while not really going anywhere. Expect a man who can't really sing and a tinny guitar; you'll have to imagine the big nose.

OK. I'll try to replicate that!

Meanwhile I'll await Dan's CD and do a bit of research about BB and The Smiths.

All this tends to confirm the theory I've long held that the music of one's formative years (say 15-25?) is what stays with you for the rest of your life.




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