Creating custom material for curious students
by Timothy Bazin, Secondary Economics and Social Studies
Some teachers struggle with finding ways to prepare students for the Cambridge Examinations. It’s a lot of pressure for everyone involved – from students and parents to teachers and administrators. I’m a real believer in the value of teachers creating their own assessment materials. I’d like to share with you here one aspect of my teaching where I’ve tried to model this approach in my Grade 9 IGCSE Economics course through Case Teaching (Golich et al, 2000).
I prepare my students for their examinations by using cases that are not only custom-made to match the style and difficulty of actual Cambridge content, but also tailor-fit to the interests and knowledge of my students. We complete one case every other week. All ideas for cases are generated by students; examples of such ideas include Africans’ access to condoms, the market dynamics of the Japanese anime industry, the contestability of global pop music, the effects of automation and AI on the Estonian labor market, and tax evasion in the UK.
Every good case starts with an insightful article that I find using the World News subreddit on Reddit.com. I read the article and calculate the readability using the Flesch–Kincaid readability formula. It is uncommon that I find an article that is a perfect match for the ideal range of 70.00-50.00 so I simplify the grammar, modify text, and replace key words to make the text easier to read. I then recalculate the readability score to ensure the text is appropriately difficult for my students. Questions are generated using the text, formative assessment data, and Cambridge sample papers. The end result is a unique case study that keeps students engaged in the learning process from start to finish.
I really enjoy the topics that students select. Most of the Grade 9 interests, digital streaming the latest Lil Pump and Snapchat – to name a few, are completely alien to me. Creating these case studies has connected me to my students and their interests in an unexpected and exciting way.