Using the Extract

On the agenda for January's EconEdChat were 3 questions:

1) How can we help students to make good use of extracts in exams?

2) How can we support students at the lower end?

3) New Years Resolutions: What are you going to try out/start/stop doing in your classroom in 2021?

This post focusses on the first question.


In general, most teachers recommend a Questions - Extract - Questions approach, but there was a bit of variation on this between exam boards and also whether the 'Extract' was text or data.

We mentioned a few mnemonics: Manisha mentioned POPSICLE and DIGESTIF for Micro and Macro topics, Jabed mentioned TAP for Text, Audience, Purpose.

We didn't get around to it in the chat, but Andrew has pointed out that often top students don't spend time rewriting large chunks of the extract, instead opting to just reference the text (eg Line 9 Extract 3). It's interesting that at the lower end our struggle is to get students using the extract and at the top end we want them to go beyond that, using the extract to strengthen their arguement rather than a crutch.

Nichola explained tiers of vocabulary back in May's chat on teaching the news (in fact, a lot of this chat builds on what we said in May). Using the vocabulary of David Didau, most teachers are very good at teaching 'Tier 3' vocabulary, our subject-specific keywords. However, extracts might use a lot of 'Tier' 2 vocabulary. This tends to be vocabulary we see more in written texts than spoken language, and so those who read less often have a deficit in this area. There is a list of that sort of language here to give you an idea. There are some words which I've never had students find trouble with, and of course it's not exhaustive. It's also worth bearing in mind that familiar words might be used in unfamiliar ways, so students might understand in one context but not another, I have found this a bigger problem than not recognising the word. For example, students might understand 'compromise' as 'meeting in the middle', but that doesn't fully convey the meaning of a statement like 'reduced policing comprises safety', but as Jake said, 'they don't know that they don't know' what it means. I mentioned that I use a sometimes use Multi-Highlight, a Google plug-in, to highlight certain words on a page - it's not perfect because it doesn't recognise derived words (eg if 'derived' is on the list, it won't recongise derive or derivation), but it's easy to toggle on and off and can give you an idea of how reader-friendly the writing is. My list is always changing as I take out words that students are fine with and add in new ones. My current list is here, if you'd like to copy and paste as a starting point.

We refer to Manisha's starters. I mention a history teacher who gives students sources annotate with questions surrounding the text, but I can't find it now! Manisha also mentioned Magenta principles which came up in September's chat about notetaking. I also reference this chat on essay writing where the idea of highlighting knowledge, application, analysis, and evaluation in different colours came up.

If you're not so comfortable with IT, there are easy to follow video on how to insert comments: this one on Google Docs and this one on Word.

I mention in this post about The Writing Revolution that the the 'because, but, so' activity can be useful for training students to use the extract. I also have a vague idea in my head that maybe some kind of table with information mined from the text and then a column for implications/causes/significance, but I haven't quite got it all clear in my head!

Econ Ed Chat takes place the first Wednesday of the month at 6pm GMT. All welcome.