Who says a TEST OF KNOWLEDGE has to be an EXAM?


The Industrial Technology Timber scope and sequence for year 10 set from last year is crap. Yeah, that’s kind of harsh, but the over testing of repetitive outcomes, lack of diversity in tasks (folio, prac, exam, folio, prac, exam **repeat) and the minimal GAP between assessments has been driving me bonkers all year.

I spent AGES re-creating a year 11 Design and Technology assessment – with the focus of “making it real” – this task was so successful that the idea of issuing year 10 Timber students with a hour long test that replicated the content/outcomes in the half yearly was absurd! With the need for modified tasks to be issued, not all students could even access the test?  – – CUE teacher frustration!!

After an awesome chat with our Leader of Pedagogy a few weeks back about HOW I could get the diversity I wanted into a scope and sequence that was already set he said “Who says a TEST OF KNOWLEDGE has to be in the form of an EXAM?” – – – (clever guy our LOP, you should follow him on twitter! @MarkOConnor1976 )



This is what I knew I wanted in a task:

  • I wanted to make an assessment that was UN-GOOGLABLE
  • An opportunity to apply subject knowledge in a real world contexts
  • Allow for self-driven practical experiences
  • Test plan reading/numeracy – been a real focus of improvement this term
  • Have OPTIONS that would test the same skills/knowledge but allow students to have some CHOICE in the assessment process/format

There are quite a few students in the course that receive modified assessments. Due to the nature of the course and the level of improvement students have demonstrated since year 9, they are gradually doing tasks that resemble a “full” assessment. HOWEVER, if a class test was issued in the format of multiple choice, short response and extended response was to be issued, they would NOT be able to complete it. Whilst writing the task, I kept those students in mind, knowing that many of them would be continuing with the HSC course and building confidence in presenting knowledge is important, more so than “practicing exam techniques”.

I have included the NEW task below, I would love your feedback, thoughts and maybe you could share what you do!

Task Description


When writing re-writing the scope and sequence for next years year 10 Timber, I will take into the account that SO MUCH THEORETICAL KNOWLEDGE is in the year 9 course, but not so much the year 10. Ideally I would like to RE-WRITE the WHOLE STAGE – balancing this out, but until a new cohort start year 9 I think this task is great. 


4 thoughts on “Who says a TEST OF KNOWLEDGE has to be an EXAM?

  1. Certainly love the sentiments behind this post!

    I don’t know much about Ind Tech Timber but I love the options you’ve set out especially the de-constructing bit. I’ve been planning to do this in my computing courses – we spend so much time designing and producing but never enough time to de-construct….when we can learn so much from that process! This is perfect for the software dev we’re doing.

    One thing I’d like to add is this challenge from the ROSA workshop I attended at ICTENSW recently, “Are you giving enough opportunities for students in the lower end of the scale to achieve something?” This is a change of perspective for me because instead of viewing “E” as ‘poor performance’, it becomes an achievement, as indeed it can be for some students (though not really at my school, tbh). While we want our students to be able to “Justify”, perhaps for some being able to “Recount” (E) or “Describe” (D) is all they can do at that point (or perhaps ever)….why should they then feel they’ve ‘failed’ to get a C or higher?

    Another challenge is giving students a sense of progression in learning, e.g. tasks could get increasingly difficult from year 9 to 10 as well as task weighting increase over the year as the students learn more. So, for example, students initially just recount and then on to describe and justify….effectively, the assessment tasks also become scaffolds. Does this make sense?

    I’m still processing this info myself and wondering how I can re-write my programs (I have 4) …. and if I can rise to the challenges!

    …something tells me I probably should blog about this as blogging helps me process thoughts!….

    sorry to ramble!

    • Oh Malyn, I agree – when I blog it forces me to clarify and polish my thoughts – even more so as I know my peers will be reading it!

      I am so glad you like the idea of de-constructing – I think it is also a great way of them applying their knowledge of making/doing but understanding HOW what they know fits into a real world context and applications!

      I would love to know more about the ROSA workshop, and agree that there should be an increase in difficulty in tasks, but I don’t necessarily think that traditional “exams” allow students to do that in stage 5? ESPECIALLY when students who are targeted for learning support can’t access a task? – OR the gifted students find something BORING and nOT challenging?

      I am hoping that even though this task is a due at a point in the year when they are tired, over assessed and gearing towards year 11 electives (which some may not stick with this subject) the CHANGE in the type of task I have created will engage them – and allow their knowledge to shine through 🙂

      I will re-blog with feedback!

      • I didn’t mean exams! Hence, I started saying I loved your sentiments.

        We only have end-of-year exams for 9 and 10 IST (i.e. 1 exam per year, no half-yearlies) and I am trying to do away with at least one of them (possibly yr 9s). But, the assessment schedule is set so I’m working with it this year and trying to talk my HoD into what I want to do.

        I’m going to blog about the ROSA thing and hopefully have an example of a re-worked assessment. In the meantime, check out the attached PDF’d assessment in this post. The written work performance criteria has been re-worked after the ROSA workshop but could still do with a bit more work….I ran out of time before I had to give it out….so maybe for next year.

  2. Raul says:

    I think what you’re doing is really fantastic! I linked here from another site that had your blog as a favorite.
    I went there because it was about John Taylor Gatto and Sir Ken Robinson on education.
    Have you ever met Mr. Gatto? I found a site with audio excerpts where one in particular came to mind upon reading what you are doing. The clip is titled The Shelter Institute (located in Bathe, Maine, USA) and the site is http://jtgmp3s.com/

    Keep up the great work! When I met John Gatto and gathered that he loves traveling and seeing the creative things that folks are doing—outside the public education paradigm.


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