Writing UCAS references is a slog. Ask a teacher. The sheer number of students the average personal tutor writes for makes the task burdensome, if not downright problematic. Writing 47 lines about an individual student is hard work. Sometimes, it is made easier by knowing a pupil particularly well; but other times it is an uphill struggle. Composing 4.7 lines, let alone 47 can be hard, especially when, as a child you were told, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
The students who are less well known to us extra-curricular present the greatest problems. UCAS references are at their most effective when jam-packed with activities that allude to what a wonderful student a particular individual would make. When we have little knowledge of a student’s interest outside school or college, the task becomes tough.
Finding out more information about a pupil is made easier with Kloodle. This post will explore how using Kloodle will save you time when it comes to writing troublesome UCAS references.
Firstly, regular use of Kloodle by a student throughout their time at college will ensure it is most effective. We will explore how best to do this in further posts, but Kloodle can be used to upload photos and videos that evidence employability, work, and blog posts. These activities can be embedded into normal lesson time: for example, a student could utilise their friendly neighbourhood smartphone (the one you insist remains in their pocket) to picture or video a particularly noteworthy event from your lesson, for example a chemistry experiment. Plus students enjoy doing it!
These activities compound over time. As a teacher, if you encourage this behaviour little and often, your students will have a stellar profile to draw upon, making your life easier when it comes to UCAS.
Secondly, you can commission some specific homework that will make your life easier utilising Kloodle. Set a task for your students to create a blog post on why they want to study the course they are applying for at university. This will achieve two things. Firstly, the student will have to think clearly about why they are pursuing a particular course. This will help them with their own statement where they will have to articulate why they are suitable for a particular course. Secondly, you will be able to use this post to inform you of a student’s motivation and why they will make a great student on that course. This is an essential part of your reference, and such a blog will help you to write this part.
Kloodle’s layout also provides you with a snapshot of what a student considers to be their main achievements. You can view all the students you have to write a reference for in your groups on Kloodle. By clicking onto a students profile, and navigating to the Achievements section, you can see the achievements a student has listed on their profile. This will give you a flavour of what a student does with his / her spare time, what they are most proud of, and why they are proud of it. You will then be able to use these in your reference.
Characteristics that are also worth alluding to in your UCAS reference are work ethic, motivation and commitment. A student’s Kloodle profile demonstrates these characteristics in a number of ways. Firstly, the sheer volume of uploads is a great indicator of work ethic. A student who diligently uploads work, evidences skills and tunes their bio is likely to be a good student at university. Secondly, students may describe these characteristics through the media they upload. For example, a student may evidence extra curricular sporting achievements, the kind which require dedication and motivation to ensure success. They may raise money for charity, be a carer for a family member or volunteer for an organisation. All of these activities show motivation, dedication and work ethic. You can use this material to reference the main skills a student is capable of in your reference.
Finally, one of the biggest bottlenecks to UCAS applications is waiting on a student to write their own statement. Your hands are pretty much tied until you receive a student’s final draft. Kloodle helps students with their statements in a number of ways. Firstly, by using Kloodle since the beginning of college, a student will have a wealth of information to reference in their statement. Finishing the statement then becomes a matter of assimilating all of this information. Secondly, Kloodle encourages students to get into the “skills mindset”. This means that each activity they complete at college has underlying skills that can be evidenced. The hard part, from a students’s point of view, is realising that such activities demonstrate employability skills. This requires a cognitive leap. By using Kloodle regularly to write about why football demonstrates teamwork, why volunteering demonstrates motivation and why working in Tesco demonstrates communication, students get used to the idea of selling themselves. A UCAS statement is essentially a sales pitch. By becoming used to identifying the skill constituents of specific activities and writing about them, students are able to write their UCAS statement with greater ease. This results in quicker submission of their application, freeing you up to write their reference.
There are a a number of creative applications of Kloodle that will help save you time with UCAS applications. This post was designed to provide some ideas, but you are limited only by your creativity. Kloodle will help you get to know your students. It will help you to see what areas they are strong in, and what areas they value about themselves. It will strengthen relationships – you may not know that the individual who struggles in your maths class is a champion chess player. By looking at a student’s profile, you afford yourself more information about this individual. This will hopefully be of use to you during the UCAS merry-go-round.