There are four weeks to go to the in house summer exams. The first years are scheduled for a 1 hour 30 minutes science exam. From previous experience, and with the opportunities of the new specification, I wished to avoid unnecessary stress and build up to a 100% exam. I dedicated this class to reviewing our Learning Outcomes (LO's) from first year and allowing space for student voice and democracy in the assessment for and of learning as we near the end of term.
At the beginning of the year, we stuck in the LO's of the science specification. In pairs, I asked them to review all the LO's and highlight which LO's they believed they had learning experiences in this past academic year. The students really engaged in this and it was very interesting to see them relate their experiences with the LO's. In particular, this was interesting the context of the LO's we chose for First year, the learning experiences I planned to conduct in the teaching and learning episodes and finally, the actual experiences of the students as learners. There are two LO's which I have not done yet....the students were very quick to spot these two! They highlighted the following LO's:
NATURE OF SCIENCE
EARTH AND SPACE
As a teacher, I was making a huge effort towards active, democratic, student based learning experiences. This is very demanding and it can also be frantic at times, especially with single classes. From my experience this year, I strongly believe that 80 minutes class, at least twice a week, are necessary to allow the space for facilitating student led learning. The students reminded me of the learning activities we did for each LO. They were able to remember all the enquiry activities related to each LO. There is also evidence of their learning in their homeowrk task and scrapbook reflections. I am going to post a link to my each blog post that corresponds with each LO above. This may help teachers planning for the 201/2018 first year in take.
There were two additional LO's that they have not experienced learning episodes for yet.
Students worked in groups of three to decide on the tasks for assessment. They used the A0 whiteboards and they came up with a variety of assessments. The predominant view was that they wanted a practical exam, worth at least 60%. I also asked them to look at their calender and to consider suitable dates for assessment and submission. We edited the assessment plan on the large whiteboard with input and reviews from all groups. We came up with the following assessment plan to represent our year long learning.
50% Practical Exam - 80 minutes on Wednesday 17th may 2017. The students will design an experimental investigation to be conducted in the 80 minutes. The students will formulate a scientific hypothesis, plan and conduct an experimental investigation to test this hypotheses, generate and analyse primary data, and reflect on the process. The students will submit the report by email before the 20th May 2017.
10 % Reflection Task - 1000 words - The students will reflect on my knowledge, skills and understanding using scientific terminology. The students can type, write or voice record my reflection. The students will email this to my teacher. This is due on May 23 rd 2017.
20% In-Class test - 80 minutes, Wednesday 24th May 2017. The teacher will create action verb questions based on the learning experiences recorded in the student scrapbooks. Students can write, type or orally record their answers to the questions. Students will draw and label all diagrams.
20% Summer Exam - 90 minutes, week beginning 29th May 2017. The students will submit questions based on the knowledge, skills and values of the Learning Outcomes. The students will use the action verbs to create the questions. Each student will submit 5 questions. There will be a total of 100 questions submitted. The teacher will chose 30 of these questions for the exam.
The students were very happy that they could contribute to this process. I think that this reduced unnecessary stress and it allowed the students autonomy for their own learning. They now have the scaffolding to continue to be independent learners over the next four weeks, without the stress of the unknown. I think this approach gives the students ownership of their learning and it also caters for a variety of learning styles.
Summer Term 2017 : Easter to Summer
Chemistry: The Periodic Table
In this class, I aimed to introduced the first year students to the Periodic Table, the elements, the symbols and the atomic numbers.
I asked the students to find the periodic table in their school diaries. I asked them to question: why is this table printed in the school diary? Does that have any significance? What does that inclusion tell you about the importance of the periodic table? They wrote their responses on the A0 whiteboard. I note that some students were already aware of the periodic table, some were familiar that it was in their diary and others did not know what it was, had never heard of it, and required their partner to help them locate it in their diary.
I asked the students to make a list of the first 20 elements and their symbols on the whiteboard. The students worked in pairs and I set this as a race. They asked me about the numbers, what did they mean, should they included them and was the order of the elements important. I explained the atomic number, I told them it was important and to use it to order the elements. The students were in mixed ability groups and they enjoyed the co-operative and competitive elements of the task. There was a very high level of engagement with the task. It was quiet an easy task and it was a good introduction. It did not challenge the Gifted and Talented so I need to consider this more in future.
Each student took a 'post-It' and each student was nominated one element. I asked them to write the symbol of their element on one side of the post it and the name of their element on the other side - some asked should they include the atomic number so I decided to say yes and they included it on both sides. They worked in pairs to teach and test each other on their symbol.
Task 3 - Speed dating
This class are completely familiar with the speed dating technique, so with this culture in place, they were excited in anticipation when I mentioned speed dating - they love having the opportunity to talk and engage with all the members of their class during this activity. I explained how they should not know all the elements and the aim of the speed dating was to 'test and teach' their peers, so that at the end they know more of the elements and symbols than they know at the beginning. I told them our next task would be a test on the whiteboards with these names and symbols. I encouraged active questioning and teaching and the students rotated without delay, swopping cards and moving one place to the left, continuing until they returned to their original position.
Task 4 - Test for recall
The students were very keen to complete the test on the whiteboards. It was conducted in a fun and caring manner. I motivated the students and reminded them this was assessment to accelerate their learning and there would be no grade, only self-recognition of what they know so far. I told them we would be repeating the speed dating with the 'post its' which they identify as most difficult, creating a democratic learning environment, promoting student voice and allows the students to take ownership of their learning.
Task 5 - Speed Dating repeat
We repeated speed dating with the elements that the students nominated as most difficult - Ca, C, K, Na, Mg, Al, He, H. Once again, I told them we would test each other on the whiteboards after this round. I joined in with the questioning this time and rotated in the circle, as this allows me to assess and engage with each student. I can help each student and encourage them. They are delighted to have the opportunity to question me and they often want to impress and show their knowledge too.
Task 6 - Final test of difficult elements
We carried out a quick 5 minutes recall on the A0 whiteboards. The benefit of the large whiteboards is that I can see what the students are writing immediately, it provides instant feedback for me as a teacher.
I think that learning the elements in this class was quite an individualised task - with students remembering different elements. I trialled an option today where I allowed the students to 'allocate their own homework' in relation to the learning in class. They must provide evidence of homework and it must relate to the learning outcome for this section which they have in their scrapbook and one or more key skills from their chart at the front of their scrapbook. I am interested to see what they complete. I had some students remaining in the classroom, perplexed and wishing to be told what to do....I thought this was interesting and it reassured me of the benefit of allowing them to assign their own homework. We need our students to sail their own boat, and to become independent learners.
Earth and space, with flavourings of the chemical, physical and biological contexts, unexpectedly and expected, through the Nature of Science, dominated the teaching and learning throughout January. I did not have time to post after each episode in January, however, I will provide a synopsis below of the past 14 classes with my first year science class. The first week of January was dedicated the the BT Young Scientist competition. Portumna CS won the Junior Technology category, with second year students Roy Flaherty and Gavin McGinley, demonstrating their creativity, innovation and coding skills in the culmination of a fantastic archade, with over 10,000 games from the 1970s and 1980s coded onto one machine with a raspberry pi. We are very proud of all 17 students who competed at the RDS, well done Roy and Gavin..... we are not only good hurlers in Portumna!
I began the earth and space contextual strand by setting an assignment to the students. I asked them to design a model of the Earth-Sun-Moon System. I purposely asked them to build the model at the beginning of the strand, as I wanted them to develop the model throughout the strand, as their knowledge and understanding developed. As a science department, we are developing our written, flexible subject plan on a shared document on onenote. We assigned Learning Outcomes to each other and we are developing the 1. Cognitive, 2. Psychomotor and 3. Affective learning domains which we weill cover in first year, under our chosen Learning Outcomes for first year. In Physical Education teacher training, it is commonplace to develope cognitive, psychomotor and affective learning intentions. Initially, I did not relate this to the undertstanding, skills and values language used at the JCT CPD day, however, I did some research online and when I found the document below.
The following table illustrates a section of our Earth and Space plan.
Task 1 : The earth, the sun and the moon
I will outline the experiences of the teaching and learning during the implementation of this plan. Plans must be reflexive and we have added two additional columns to the right hand side: Teacher reflections and Student feedback. This correlates nicely with our School Self Evaluation and saves us time, making the SSE real, valuable and do what it is supposed to do - improve teaching and learning through reflection, not written in a folder for the sake of ticking a box.
We reduced LO1 in earth and space to investigating the relationships between moon, asteroids, comets, plants, stars, solar system, galaxies and space for the purpose of First year study. Our cognitive learning intentions were:
The Psychomotor intentions were:
The affective learning intentions were:
I carried out a variety of active learning (speed dating, ambassadors and marketplace - Paul Ginnis ), model based investigations, enquiry investigations and design tasks to provide learning experiences for the learning intentions outlined above in our collaborative department plan.
Students worked in pairs to examine a photograph of the earth from space. I asked them to answer questions on the task card in the gallery below titled: 'How Big?' This was designed to engage the students in the topic of Earth and Space, while simultaneously challenging all students.
I provided each student with a definition card, with a new term from earth and space. They had one minute on the countdown timer to learn their definition. We completed speed dating in the aisle of the science lab. I set a countdown timer to 4 minutes. When the buzzer sounded, they have their new partner and they must return to a bench and pair up with this new partner for Task 3.
I provided students with AGREE or DISAGREE statements. They wrote them on the magic whiteboard paper, which sticks to the wall by static electricity. They wrote agree or disagree beside each statement and we will refer and edit these opinions as they negotiate their learning in this scheme of work.
'What is the centre of the universe?
In groups of three, students took a sticker and assumed responsibility for a role. The roles were: the earth, the sun and venus. I darkened the lab as much as possible. The sun held a torch (the light on a mobile phone would work here too), Venus held a plastic foam ball and a pencil. I gave the students a task card explaining this activity. I set a countdown timer for urgency. I rotated facilitating discussion and engagement. I had a student teacher observing this class and I also used the 'hands up for silence' technique throughout, as explained in an earlier post. This technique works really well for classroom management during active learning. Firstly, to model and earth centered system: earth stands still and the sun and venus orbit the earth staying close together. Earth watches the ball held by venus and draws diagrams of what the ball looks like at all four locations.The students repeated this with the sun centered system: sun stands still, while earth and venus orbit, earth takes small steps while venus takes large steps. Earth watches the ball held by venus and draws diagrams of what it looks like at all four locations. The students found this activity very difficult, and I did come close to abandoning, however, one group got it. The students in this group figured out the key concept of how earth and other objects in the solar system move. I asked this group to demonstrate to the rest of the class and to explain the concept to them. The students demonstrated and explained the key concept very clearly to their peers. I asked all students to repeat the task and I asked the three students who had successfully navigated the task to rotate as peer teachers during the re-take! This worked really well, and I would use it again. I think it is very important to: 1. Allow time for difficult times for the students, 2. Choose a successful student group to demonstrate - this gives belief to the other students that they can do it too and they also explained it in the vocab of their peers and finally 3. Don't be afraid to do a re-take and to allow successful peers to fulfil the role of peer teacher.
The students created an envelope foldable. They drew an image of the sun on the centre. On the inside tabs, they drew the position of the earth for each season. The students glued their foldable into their scrapbook. They completed it for homework. We peer assessed the foldable we a post-it and 2 stars and a wish. The students choose and set the criteria for the creation of the foldable.
'Back to Back' for the earth's orbit of the sun. The students sit back to back and describe a labelled diagram to their partner. They are not allowed to look or point at their partners whiteboard as they draw. Change and repeat with a similar but different image of the earths orbit of the sun. Repeat with a pair vs pair race for drawing the diagram. Finish with a partner vs partner race.
'What causes eclipses?' The student work in pairs with a light source and a plastic foam ball. The ball is the moon and the light is the sun. The students head is the earth. The students sit or stand so the moon covers the sun. The students were asked to identify the phases of the moon.Their partner observed and recorded the shadow on the whiteboard. I choose the most successful pairs to present by rotation and placing a sticker on the best board. I asked the students to hold up a green, orange or red card. I paired the green with orange and I went in a group with the reds. We repeated the task in these groups. I assessed the students again and we repeated the task again until all students felt they could display a green card. I asked all stuents to individually explain the concept on the mini whiteboard (A4) and to hold it up.
'Back to back' with solar eclipse and lunar eclipse diagrams. Speed dating definitions with old definition cards and new eclipse definiton cards. The students make the cards on coloured card, we store them and add to them, for each speed dating round. This builds the knowledge of definitions in a fun, interactive, social learning environment.
The students read a report on Tidal Barrages. Tides are based on the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon. Students were asked to research and report on what they would do if they were to build a tidal barrage. The success criteria included: applying the scientific method, location, detailed explanation with diagrams in relation to how the sun and the moon would affect the barrage's energy production.
Task 9 - The Solar System
'How does rotation affect shape?' What happened to the shape of the solar system as it spun faster? The students used modelling clay and made a small, round ball. The students placed the ball in a small, plastic jug and tied a piece of string to the jug. The piece of string was 1m long. Find a clear space in the room and whirl the bucket around your head for 1 minute. I set a countdown timer and I made sure the students were very spread out - only three groups could complete this at any one time, for safety. They lowered the bucket and observed the shape of the dough. I could not believe the results of this task - so much so, that I asked the students to roll the clay into a perfect ball and to show it to me before the whirl! They repeated it again. It gives fantastic understanding and shows the off spherical shape caused by the gravitational influence. The students now understand why objects change shape as they spin and the influence of gravity on the shape of the solar system.
Students made a venn diagram in a foldable book. They researched and compared the inner and outer planets. They also had to print a photo of each planet and write one sentence about it in their scrapbook.
Task 11 - How do the densities of the inner and outer planets differ?
This was my favourite task, since beginning the teaching and learning journey of the new science specification. I enjoyed this task because it incorporated NOS, the physical, earth and space and chemical contextual strands, in a framework of enquiry for all, most and some learning attentions across the three domains of learning: cognitive (understanding), psychomotor (skills) and affective (values). The inner and outer planets differ in physical properties or make up. I modelled the inner planets with a metal ball (I screwed the metal ball from the top of the ball and ring for heat) and I modelled the outer planets with an ice cube. I introduced the SI units for mass and volume. I gave the students the formula for density. I asked them to work in pairs for one minute, with a countdown timer, and one pair figured out g/cm3. We had used a Newton Metre when designing the Zipline in December 2016 and this was useful as I could remind them of Weight and the difference between mass and weight. The students worked in pairs and each pair/bench had: an electronic balance, graduated cyclinder, basin of water (as we have no running water), metal ball, ice cubes, overflow can, weigh boats. I set the students the task of calculating the mass, volume and density of the models of the inner and outer planets. I did not show them how to find the volume or the mass or how to use any of the instruments. As it was safe to do so, I allowed them to investigate and make mistakes until they discovered how to use them and how to record. I facilitated by questioning groups on:
teacher -how is this a fair test?
student-we are repeating it three times and calculating and average
teacher - is that the best table you can construct to present your data? is there a better way?
student - improves it a bit, but not much
teacher - go and look at the tables of other scientists in the room and see if you can improve your table based on their tables - don't just copy one - take the best from what you see and make it your own.
teacher - oh no, the ice is floating - how will you calculate its volume? Why is is floating? Did the metal ball float?
student- I am going to wait for it to melt and record the voume by how much the water rises.(I was very impressed by this!)
Meanwhile, other students had their ice cube in a weigh boat and they were melting it at the radiator. They did not ask me could they go to the radiator. There is a climate of trust that students are free to move and complete safe tasks of their choosing as long as it is related to the scientific investigaiton at hand. I can get the class attending using the 'hand up' technique. I questioned the students at the radiator, that perhaps they were losing water molecules to evaporation. This was interesting as they replied saying 'no we are not, sure its not boiling!' I questioned them further, and asked for the water cycle in everyday rivers and sea, is the water boiling? 'oh yeah' they replied. The students know that I will always immediately want a solution via problem solving and I am finding that the more we go on in the year, they want to get in there with a solution before I even get to ask! ' I will take the mass again, after it melts, before I measure its volume in the graduated cyclinder!'. This overlap with Physical Observables was a valuable moment for me as a teacher, to realise the importance of the overlap of the contextual strands, to develop a deeper understanding of concepts. I think it is important to remember that not all students will go to the same depth but that they all go deeper than they were before, rather than deeper than other students! This is something I am emphasising to the students, I want them to better themselves everytime, rather than trying to better the person beside them, in this way it removes competition allowing them up to help each other to improve and to focus on the process of learning as the most valuable outcome rather than the product. The students wrote up the investigation in their scrapbook by observation, hypothesis, apparatus, experimental design, results, and conclusion. The conclusions were very good and they explained how the densities of the inner and outer planets differed. They had all calculations complete in the table and they paid more attention to detail on the SI units than First Year students in previous years, when teaching SI units as a standalone topic. I will definitely be used this investigation again. The students created notes, foldables, diagrams and recorded learning reflections in their scarpbook. The students completed an open scrapbook test on the following two questions:
1.Sketch and explain two figures: The earth on an axis and the earth if it were not on an axis.
2.Both asteroids and planets orbit the sun. All planets are spherical, but most asteroids are not. Explain why.
I corrected these questions by comment only marking. I asked the students to write an action-based response to my comment.
This week my planning was based around the learning outcome NOS 3 and 4 and LO 3 from the Elements Systems and Interactions from the Physical World contextual strand. I decided to ask the students to design and build a zipline for Portumna Forest Park. I got this idea from McGraw Hill science. It is an activity from a problem based science learning series. I spent four classes on this acitvity this week.
Monday 40 minutes
I placed the students in mixed ability groups and I ensured they were working with new students. I wanted to place the students outside of their comfort zone and challenge them to work with new team members. I have noticed a huge improvement in all students over the past three months. I have noticed an improvement in the engagement of all students to some extent. In particular, students who were not engaged or who had low self efficacy have improved. They are more enthusiastic, more confident and they have enhanced belief in their own ability. I think this is as a result of a combination of praise for small steps of improvement, support towards improvement and differentiated tasks and homework that allow all students to improve from their individual 'home base' or starting point.
The students researched the purpose, structure and possible locations for the zipline in the forest park. I chose a local amenity to encourage them to apply science to their locality, and who knows, maybe one of them will actually build this zipline in the future! The students realised this and one stated that he might become an engineer and build this zipline in Portumna. In relation to recording time, one student asked me could he count 'one mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi' instead of using the stopwatch-I asked him did he think this would be scientifically accurate and would he pay to go on a zipline where they enginner had tested it by counting like thath and he gasped 'oh no not really!'. I also reminded them about how many times they had to test a unit to show accuracy. They agreed that 3 times would be fair. I suggested that they also include a trial for each unit measured. The students described the scenitific principles to account for when building the zip line. The team manager at the Adventure Express had given them criteria to match when designing and building the zipline. They zipline must be safe, able to hold multiple riders, have minimal impact on the environment, and it should include the location and construction of the launching and landing pads.
I set a countdowm timer to 12 minutes. The students were given A2 white paper, metre sticks and pencils and I asked them to draw their plans for the zipline, to scale. I circulated and facilitated students in groups by prompting and explaining scale. When the 12 minutes was up, the buzzer went off. The students were asked to stick up their plans near to their work station. I asked the students to begin contructing their ziplines according to their plans. There was dismay in some quarters as they did not realise that their actual model had to match up to the scales and plans of their drawing!! I explained how they would be marked on the process, their evaluations, problem solving and how well they worked with others and not necessarily only the end product-the process of learning was prioritised at all times. All students were fully engaged for the following 50 minutes, this is the first time that this has occured. The room was so busy and energetic-there was a definite learning buzz. Another science teacher entered the room to get a book, he was so entrigued that he went around to the students and asked them what they were doing and how they were doing it, in addition, the students did not even notice people entering or leaving the room and they did not hear the bell going in the middle of the double class. For me, this is also evidence of the high level of engagement in learning, problem solving and creating.
I circulated asking the students to calculate Distance and Time in order to calculate the speed. I asked them to infer the units for distance (m), time (s) and speed (m/s). This was a very effective way of teaching the students distance, speed and time. It was certainly my most creative attempt in seven years teaching JC science. I began to think how boring I have taught it for the past six years and in addition I have a new love for Physics! The active, creative and applied teaching of the physics concepts has not only engaged my students, but had engaged me, as the teacher.
I gave each group a Newton Meter and I asked them to measure the weight of their different passengers. I faciliated small group discussion with each team about mass, electronic balances, weight and newton meters. I showed them how to convert mass to weight and I asked them to research a continuum of mass for possible visitors to their zipline. They must test the zipline for a variety of weight across the spectrum.
It rains frequently in Galway. I questioned the students in relation to the weather. Can you zipline operate in winter when it rains? None of the groups had considered the weather. I informed them that tomorrow it will be raining in the lab and your zipline will be tested.
Before time was up, I asked each group to present their zipline, to say what went well and what they want to improve on tomorrow before they submit their project. The students were very proactive in their thinking and they had many comments on their ziplines and they were looking forward to improving them tomorrow. I heard some students say 'I can't wait for tomorrow, I really want to make this zipline better!'
The application of the NOS as the medium for which to teach physical observables brought Physics to life in my classroom today. I really enjoyed the class, the students really enjoyed the class and there was alot of learning taking place for every student.
I found some great Physics resourcers on www.scoilnet.ie recently and I wanted to plan a class to incorporate/try them out. Aoife McDonnell works in the PDST in ICT and as a Physics and Science teacher, she is assimulating wonderful resources, and I am a particular fan of the simulations that she has organised on the website. It is very easy to search by type and by topic. The site has really improved over the past year. In my double class today, I decided to set up six stations, three practical stations and three interactive simulations. I rearranged the lab tables and writing spaces to suit this arrangement.
I set up the following stations:
Station #1: Filtration - Rock sand,water, filter, filter paper, retort stand, labels (beaker , filtrate, funnel, solute, solution, solvent, retort stand). I also threw in a few appartus to throw them: test tubes, graduated cylinder, and a hot plate. Task: Invetigate methods to seperate the sand from the water so that if you were on a desert and this is all you had, you could get drinking water.
Station #2: Simultion 1: A4 whiteboard per student: reflect and record what you learned by completing this simulation. http://www.eduplace.com/kids/hmsc/content/simulation/
The students love the simulations, and they were very engaged moving from station to station. I set the timer to 8 minutes. When the buzzer went, they moved on.
Station #3: Evaporation - salt water solution, hot plate, evaporating basin, water, beaker, funnel, filter paper. Task: Your dinner is tastless and you would like some salt. Please seperate it from the water!
Station #4: Simulation 2: A4 whiteboard per student: reflect and record what you learned by completing this simulation. http://www.physics.org/interact/physics-life/web/physics_life/
Station #5: Distillation: Coke is a solution. I wonder if we could seperate them using our knowledge of states of matter and thermal energy. I set up the Liebeg condenser and I put a can of coke beside it. I asked them to reflect, record and explain their learning, in particular, explaining how the liebeg condenser works and how it interacts with the states of matter.
Station #6: Simulation #3: Virtual Physics Lab. The students loved this activity and when I asked them to complete a sentence strip as an exit pass for the 'what I learned today' board, many students mentioned something that they learning about physical observables from this virtual lab.
This was one of my favourite classes with First years so far this year. They were all engaged and on task. The stations allowed me the freedow to rotate, facilitate, support and probe the students learning. I will definitley be using this again. I had sixth year biology after and it worked so well, I left the lab set up as it was and I used theory flash cards at stations 1,3 and 5 and I used the following Biology simulations for human reproduction. They also experienced enjoyment and deep learning. They also commented how fast the class went by - I always think this indicates a high level of engagement.
Female reproduction simulation http://www.123esaaf.com/Atlas/Reproductive_01.swf
body map http://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/stomach
menstrual cycle https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/images/menstrual-cycle.swf
I decided to engage the first year students in the design of their christmas 'assessment of learning'. This is worth 50% of their report comment. The other 50% is an investigate that they design, carry out and report on within a double class period.
I began by asking them to match up the verbs with the meanings. I cut out the action verbs pdf from www.jct.ie, laminated it and cut them up. I asked them to mix and match in pairs. I then asked them to mix and match and race each other. I swopped the pairs and repeated. I repeated this cycle five times. Finally, I asked them to stick in their solutions to their scrapbook.
I put the students in pairs and I assigned them an action verb. I asked them to create an exam questions that began with their assigned action verb. I asked them to be creative and to 'think outside the box'. I assigned each pair a different action verb. This was very interested. For example, one group were given:
'Outline' -they proceded to list 3 to 4 questions beginning with 'Name....' with Outline as a heading at the top of the whiteboard. Another group decided on 'Describe the digestive system'. I had asked them to look back on what they had learned and to reflect on the learning outcomes that we had touched. I encouraged them to think about their knowledge, skills and understanding that they may have learned in relation to a learning outcome. For me, the JCT CPD day, was most valuable for highlight the breakdown of a learning outcome to understanding, knowledge and skills and this will be a core aspect of my teaching and learning going forward. I will also be asking the students to engage democratically, to break down the learning outcomes into learning intentions through these three three pillars. I had the stopwatch set to six minutes. We reveiwed their work when the time was up. I gave them a coloured card cut into a circle and I asked them to write their question on it and to rub out the whiteboard. I collected the cards and redistributed them to different pairs, and I asked them to complete the questions. I set the countdown timer to five minutes. I circulated, faciliating and probing the answers. I encouraged the students to critique the peer created questions: were they the best that they could be? After five minutes, I asked for nominations of what the students thought were the best questions. This was intriguing, they picked the questions which required the deepest understanidng. I asked them why they picked that question and they answered because 'it tests if you really know it, if you like understand science'. I asked the students to reflect on their questions, to compare their creations to the best question from that round and to make plans for how they were going to make a better question that tested deeper understanding, skills and knowledge.
I swopped the pairs and I assigned different action verbs to each pair. I asked the pairs to create the deepest, most challenging question, based on a learning outcome they had encountered since September. I gave an example (which I thought of aon the spot..!) 'There is a cow grazing in the field and she has a calf, therefore they must be living things. Justify this statement, demonstrating your knowledge, understanding and skills of science.' I also told the students that the questions created in this round would be the questions that I would ask on their formative, assessment of learning, written test in two weeks time. They were very surprised that I was inviting them to contribute to the creation of their exam, but they were also very happy about this! They became more interested and engaged when I offered this democratic opportunity. They did very well and they produced very creative questions that will require deeo understanding to answer. They wrote their questions on the coloured discs and hey stuck them up on the noticeboard on the way out, so that everyone could see every question. I told them I would leave them uo for 24 hours and that they would be taken down and that they wouldn't see them again until the exam. They were not allowed write them down in front of the board but I allowed them to come back and read the board as many times as they could. This resulted in students popping in at break and lunch to review the questions....and their learning.
I enjoyed trying out this approach. I am interested to see if it focuses their approach to the exam. They will be prepared for the type of questions. This idea came from a methodologies lecturer that I had in DCU, called Mary Lee. Mary taught us to do this with LC Biology students as formative assessment and as summative assessment ton include some of their questions in an exam. She was clearly a women ahead of her time.
I attended the JCT Science CPD Day 1 today, Wednesday 30th November 2016, at Galway Education Centre. The JCT associate presenters were Eileen Hanrick and Elizabeth Smith. They were organised, enthusiastic and inspiring throughout the workshop. The following reflections are my interpretations of my professional development experiences at this workshop.
The specification is alive and it adapts
There are a few differences between a curriculum and a specification. The specification is adaptable and flexible and it will be added to over time. For example, as they have done in New Zealand, exemplars of student work, student experiences and assessment ideas will be added as the specification evolves.
We were introduced to the specification through a 'THINK PAIR SHARE' activity that most participants were familiar with. Statements were projected and firstly we were asked to think independently about whether we agree or disagree with the statement. The first statement was:
'To teach through inquiry you have to do experiments…'
We then shared our view with our pair and finally we shared our paired views with another pair or the rest of the group. The general consensus in the room was that there is a continuum from teacher led to student led activities and planning can vary to icluded methodologies from various points on the continuum.
Statement two was:
'earth and space could be taught by the geography teacher'
The 'THINK PAIR SHARE' process was repeated and the general consensus was that yes there could be elements of both subjects. Teachers could teach some but the aspects could be different. A teacher also poitned out that Geography is a science also. There are cross curricular links - geography and science could both be teaching aspects of earth and space.
We discussed the benefit of think/pair/share. We agreed that it encouraged students to think outside the box, allowing them time and space to think. Teachers tend to ask a question and move on too quickly. Think pair share is one way of moving towards overcoming teacher answering their own questions.
Post - Its
There were post-its left on our desk. If we had questions during the day, we could write them on a Post It and stick it up on the Car Park poster with the questions, name and email address. If it happened that the associate answered a question as it comes up then we were asked to take down the post it. If there were any questions that couln't be asnwered, an answer to the question would be sent by email after the workshop.
Eileen gave us an overview of the new Junior Cycle. She explained:
She emphasised how all these all feed in to give the school programme.
We were encourages to reflect at various points throughout the workshop, using a Learning Log. These were the contents of my learning log at the end of the day.
Niamh's Learning Log
We used a Ranking sheet to rank the 8n key skills from most important to lesat important. This was a tricky task and in the end we agreed that there is no right answer. On any given day, depending the context and situation different key skills may be more important at different times. WE used the THINK PAIR AND SHARE activity to rank the key skills.
Eileen outlined the rationale and broad for the junior cycle science:
There is an emphasis in the new junior cycle science on enjoyment, lifelong learning, key skills, developing scientific literacy and applying it, acquiring a body of scientific knowledge, developing a scientific habit of mind, and improving their reasoning and decision making abilities of students.
Structure of the Specification
In the next task, we engaged with the structure of the learning outcomes in the specification. We used an activity that I used with First Years at the beginning of the year for the principles of the new junior cycle. The learning outcomes for each strand were cut out and we had to arragne them into the appropriate column for Nature of science, or the physical, chemical, biological or earth and space contextual strands. The cards were different colours depedning on the elements that they belonged to. The elements are building blocks, systems and interactions, energy and sustainability. We used the THINK PAIR SHARE activity again to complete this task.
The Nature of science should be embedded throughout the teaching and learning of the other four contextual strands in junior cycle science. The nature of science should be the scaffolding of every class with the contextual strands build up around it. This encourages students to understand and investigate throughout the T & L of all the strands. We received a coloured poster for the wall in our teaching spaces. This is to act as a visual aid to put up in the classroom to see the learning outcomes across the strands. This may prompt the students and teachers into impromtu recognition of current NOS in action. I think I will give the studens a copy of this poster for their scrapbook and I will use it as a reflection tool in every class. Fore example, I will ask them: which Nature of Science Learning Outcome do you think you applied today? Hopefully, there would be at least two applied in every class. Eileen and Elizabeth pointed out some resources useful for incorpoarting NOS into teaching and learning:
In this task we used the Jigsaw learning methodology (there is a video on JCT.ie of this activity) to solve a scientific problem, while working with others. It eas emphasised that the content in this acivity was designed for teachers-but that it can be manipulated for students. We were put in groups of 4. The jigsaw methodvmimics groups of scientists working towards a common goal. We spent 10 minutes at our 'Home team'. WE were given distinct roles: recorder, manager, timekeeper. We had a 25 minute 'break out' session where we went to stations. Stations were numbered 1/2/3 and we went to the station that correlated with the number on our role- collect discreet, different info at each station. We went back to our home team, with new information to share and communicate with out team to solve the problem.
We reviewed the activity and recapped on prior knowledge. We noted that there may have been some may have been misconceptions and maybe they were challenged during the activity.
We had a group discussiona and the facilitator clarified the solutions. The value of this exercise is that one piece of information wold not lead to valid reasons, but when you go back to your home team you have valid reasons for the variance in temperature. The variance in temperature was the problem to be solved in this particular question.
This activity was about the task or the knowledge. Students bringing back incorrect information and spreading with group was raised as an issue. I think that this is crucial the role of the teacher as a facilitator to intervene and to rotate the groups, questioning and checking. This activity builds confidence because the groups are small. The teacher should choose the groups, and it was suggested that the teacher possibly tiered experiments. I don't think I fully agree with this but maybe I would tier within a task at a station so that location in the room is not determined by ability as students will pick up on this.
Finally, Eileen and Elizabeth asked us: 'Which learning outcomes from NOS were embedded in this activity?' AS a group, we decided on the following NOS learning outcomes.
This type of a class takes planning, but the value of learning that the students get in the short space of time is valuable. As a teacher of the new specification we are being challenged to be Creativie. This is important as we are expecting the students to 'be creative' as a key skill so we should evaluate and reflect on our own creativity in our approaches to teaching and learning too. As a teacher attempting creativity is the first step of the journey - the more creative you are, the more creative you will become. For example, fun activities like the Iodine snake, kodium bomb-can now be incorporated and embeeded into the teaching and learning of the new specification, making it enjoyable, exciting and fun for all. We must remember that the NOS underpins the content. NOS should be embeeded in the processes and activities that we do with our students on a daily basis.
We returned to an examination of the enquiry continuum again:
Using the enquiry continuum: limited (teacher led, predirected), structured (Sequence of tasks), guided, open (students develop their own questions and methods).
The facilitators posed the question. 'In the activity that we just completed, where would you see this activity on the enquiry continuum? We decided that Station 1 was guided: fulfill a hypothesis. All other stations were structured. What effect does this have on teachers and students? Student voice is stronger and the learning is studend led but thsi can depend on how comfortable the teacher is teaching along the continuum. We discussed the factors all along the continuum. What determines the level of inquiry? What factors in your own classroom, what factors affect the level of inquiry that you use in your classroom? Some of the answers the grop produced were: type of students, timetabling, teacher confidence, school culture and planning time. We were informed thae the Department of Education have given 8 hours this year for every science teacher. From 2017, every science teacher has 40 minutes each week for planning. They emphasised how collaboration is key - and that many hands make light work. When we unpack Learning outcomes, the groupwork speeds up ideas and creativity flows. As a science department they encourages us to pool our resources and develope packs aroudnm different topics, with Nature of Science embeeded, 'all of it all the time not some of it some of the time'. They explained how beneficial it is to plan and put activities together. This gives the students a different approach to learning.
Eileen outline an example from her first year class:
First year science task:
'there is salt and water and sand : separate it. I gave them sieves, allow them to try and make mistakes. Did not prescribe it, they had it done but not by a recipe. I have discovered this. Few minutes to plan what they might do, go over and look at apparatus. Showed how to put filter paper in - I would let them figure it out.'
We discussed that yoiu couod ask the students to reflect and ask them 'What would I do better the next time?' The students could also deomstrate their experiments to other groups. I think it is invaluable that the associate presenters are current science teachers in the classroom and they brought in some really good examples from their everyday teaching.
It is possible to include experiment design as a form of assessment for learning as you can see what they mix up (mass at start, volume at the end). There was an important message here and that is: that there are many possibilties and that there is no one way or right way to do anything.
Elizabeth described another example from one of her first year science classes. She posed the following question to her first year class: 'Which is the best absorbent?' The active, open approach allowed space for the teacher to embed formative assessment, encouraging creativity and managing information and thinking.
During the transition from Primary education to secondary education:are we are killing their creativity or fostering it? I have an anecdotal story I was engaed in professional dailogue with a teacher who said:
'1st years need to learn that they are not in primary school anymore they need to sit and listen'
This is a huge cultural challenge that we must challenge in our schools, by engaging in professional dialogue with colleagues and promoting what works and what requires improvement in teaching and learning.
When allowing students to design their own experiemnt, there are a many influecning factors. Teacher confidence, planning time and collaboration are three influential factors. However, safety has to come first.Further down the list, we need more resources, access to or money for resources. This current implemtation of Junior cycle reform provides no budget for science resources. However, there is a 7000 euro fund available for schools for digitial technology. I teach in a science lab with no running water. I welcome the digitial strategy money and I am an advocate of integrating technolgoy into teaching and learning. Nonetheless, basics must be in place and different schools are in different states of repair and in my opinion, require independent assessment and independently assesed funding according to needs. In addition, teacher readiness is another factor that may influence curricular reform - how confident they feel may impact their place on the teaching continuum. Furthermore, student readiness is a factor and the knowledge, understanding and values should be built up over time. They can certainly not be crammed in two weeks before an exam-and maybe that will finally be the stimulus for real change in how we teach and learn junior cycle science.
Assessment in JCPA Science
The Day 2 workshop will deal in detail with assessment in science. Eileen touched ont his area today, introducing us to the basic framework for assessment.
The Continuous Based Assessment (CBA) 1 will take place over three weeks in April-May 2018. Students will plan and conduct an experimental investigation. The six topics and the dates are set. Reports are possible in a wide range of formats - podcasts, videos, oral presentations, posters. All students are given a chance to express their knowledge, understanding and values of JC science. Quality assurance will be maintained during the SLAR meetings. Teachers will bring a select few samples of work to the Subject Learning and Assessment Review (SLAR) meeting. The CBA are assessed using four descriptors: exceptional (like unicorns, they do not exist very often, 1%), Above expectations (20%), in line with expectations (70%), meeting expectations (10%). These bands align with success criteria and allow students to achieve their personal best. The SLAR meeting will last 2 hours. Teachers will share and support each other in assessing the students work, with one teacher from each department allocated an extra two hours for planning. It is the responsibility of the school management to organise opportunities for SLAR meetings.
The CBA 2 is a Science in Society Investigation (SSI). Students will research a socio-scientific issue. This will take place in December / January in 2018/2019. The SLAR meeting will take place in relation to the Assessment task. Teacher will award a descriptor to go on the JCPA.
The Assessment Task is based on the CBA 2. This takes place on one day in February 2019, ina classroom situation under exam conditions, supervised by the class teacher. This is worth 10% and it is written by the NCCA and marked by the SEC.
The exam will take place in June and it is 2 hours duration. It is a common level. It is written and marked by the SEC. They are trying to stay away from rote learning and this will be reflected in the style of exam questioning. In the exam the students will receive one of the following:
Working with the Learning Outcomes
Earth and space LO 4:
'Develop and use a model of the earth sun moon to describe predictable phenomena observable on earth, including seasons, lunar phases and eclipses of the sun and moon.'
Teachers should not deal with a learning outcome in one go, you revisit it over the years. The main question most teachers have is: How deep do you go? What is core? In the booklet we received today, there are action verbs from the specification. Action verbs can guide teachers to figure out the depth. We participated in a 'Think pair share': what do you think are the core understanding, skills and values? I found this a really valuable exercise and it made me think about the Learning Outcomes in a different way.
Touch, stone, layering
The touch, stone and layering approach can be integrated into the students learnin experiences of the learning outcomes throughout the three year cycle.
What is ment by 'Layering'?
If we go back to the example of asking students to design their own experiment, the filtering, and absorbing examples, this will result in the students making mistakes, evaluating and layering on knowledge. A second example, might be asking students to evaluate a media coverage of knowledge, undetrstanding and skill previously encountered. Evaluating media based arguments: does that article give us information on the title, is it backed by valid scientific information? Students must layer their knowledge, understanding and skills to answer these types of questions.
Teachers have autonomy and flexibility but not total freedom in this science specification. There will be overlap, and in my opinion, this autonomy allows you to focus on what you consider most valuable for your students at any given time, in your context. The salues and attitudes permeate the Learning outcomes as you teach the contextual strands (earth and space, chemical, biological and physical), scaffolded by the Nature of science.
The key take home messages: looking back, moving forward
The Physical World
Element: Systems and Interactions
Learning Outcome 4: Investigating patterns and relationships between physical observables
I am reflecting in this blog post on how I taught LO 4 from the contextual strand of the Physical World. I have found some resources from New Zealand and their lower secondary science programme. There is one image, which I particulary like, at this stage of my journey into teaching and learning of the new junior science spec. I used the snipping tool (if on WIndows, search 'snopping tool' and it is very helpful for everything!' and captured this image directly from the New Zealand Science. The link is here: /C:/Users/Niamh/Downloads/ScienceInTheNewZealandCurriculum.pdf. This link has possible learning experiences and assessment possibilties that are not offered in the Irish spec. However, the NZ spec makes reference to levels which cannot be direlty aligned with our model, bu it does offer ideas for differentiation that we could integrate. I am happy to see that our new specification aligns with internationaly best practice. It also useful to know which countries are implementing this approach, particularly when looking for resources. Also, I believe there is a misconception among some that we are following the UK and bureacracy is dominating eduction. I do not believe this is true, our new science spec aligns with international best pracitce. Nonetheless, as relfective practitioners we must evaluate critically and always look for improvement. We must be critically aware and that is part of being an educationalist.
In Boston Scientific, the areas where the Engineers prepare their work are called Clean Rooms. Due to our rural location, we have started Skype sessions with People in Society who work in Science. This week we skyped Joe Murphy, who works as a Biomedical Engineer in Boston Scientific. Skype is a fantastic resource as the students could see the Clean Room and Joe could explain and show his work to the students. I decided to introduce 'physical moveables' using the Marketplace activity from Paul Ginnis, by calling the stalls Clean Rooms ro remind th students of the skype conversation earlier in the week. I am trying to mirror the work of scientists and engineers who work in groups and collabrate in the teaching and learning methodologies applied in my classroom.
I put the students in mixed ability pairs. I gave them a bingo card with 9 boxes. I gave them a second sheet with the Learning Outcome: Investigating patterns and relationships in physical observables. I had two blank boxes underneath this. The first box had the four words: pattern, relationship, physical, observable. Each pair had a dictionary and internet access and I asked them to research/find out the meaning of the four words. They had a countdown timer with 5 minutes. When the buzzer went, I asked the students to leave their sheet down and walk around the room looking at the meanings of the words that other students had found. They had two minutes to do this. On the buzzer they returned to their sheet, reviewed and edited if there was any new information they had found. A brief class discussion on the meaning of the words followed. This was for quality assurance /teacher assessment - to check the meanings had evolved; the main learning in this activity was creating, researching, peer assessing, reviewing and editing.
I put the Clean Room 1 - Clean Room 9 on cards and I put them in a box. I asked each pair to pull out a card and this was their assigned starting point for the clean room rotations. I decided to make 11 stations and I had 10 pairs. I organised the students in pairs for this learning activity, as previously I had worked in mixed ability groups of 3. There are less places for students to hide in smaller groups, yet there is still the support of a peer. I had organised the task cards and equipment and they were set out at each station. The class was 80 minutes long. The introduction took 15 minutes, leaving 3 X 20 minutes for 'Clean Room' tasks and 5 minutes for clean up. The students were told they must record evidence of completing the task at their clean rooms in the Bingo Boxes and these must be put int the Exit Pass box on the way out for teacher assessment. They will receive feedback in form of Meeting expectations (ME), Above Expectations (AE) and Exceptional (Exc). They will collect the Bingo Cards on the way back into class the next day and complete two more clean rooms. The first pairs in will get to choose their clean room, but they can't enter the lab unless their partner is there. This made the students really hurry to class!!!
Each pair had 20 minutes to complete their work at their clean room.
Clean Room 1
Clean Room 2
Clean Room 3
Clean Room 4
Clean Room 5
Clean Room 6
Clean Room 7
Clean Room 8
Clean Room 9
This activity took one double and two singles to complete. The students thoroughly enjoyed the learning experiences and it exposed them to new vocabulary an experiences. For homework, they had three questions, that I created from the Action Verbs in the specification. Hopefully, in the future, the students will be creating these questions using the action verbs. The studends find the action verbs difficult to use but I think that as they are embedded they will become more fluent in using them. The understanding of the action verbs will allow students a fluency to express their scientific knowledge in the context of their key skills that they are developing through the active, enquiry based teaching and learning strategies.
I am experiencing a deeper level of understanding and appreciation of teaching and learning as I reflect on my practice. I love how the creativity and innovation in planning these teaching and learning episodes is appreciated by the students and they are empowered in a student led environment. I truly believe that student led, active learning provides an inclusive, engaging learning environment for all students to improve upon their personal best.
I wanted to see how effective the human digestive simulation activity was. I asked the students to worked in pairs and I gave them 15 minutes to draw, label and explain the human digestive system on their whiteboards, without their notes. I set the countdown timer to 15 minutes. I circulated the room, clarifying misconceptions, interacting and discussing with the students. I would give them feedback on how to improve their diagram. I would send them to look at another diagram belonging to another pair. I was trying to deepen their understanding by asking them to apply what they had learned the day before. I was delighted with the levels of knowledge and understanding and with differentiated expectations and showing all students where they can all improve, I was very happy with the ongoing learning process. A buzzer sounds when the countdown timer stops.
I asked the students to create a foldable and I set the countdown timer to 20 minutes. They were working in groups. We decided on criteria for a useful foldable. It must be accurate, creative and detailed. They created a foldable for the digestive system. This was their second foldable to create and I could see an improvement. Foldables are very good for synthesising information and I am going to continue to use them.
Homework: Create a foldable for plant cell structure, animal cell structure and the microscope - in preparation for your Christmas exam at the end of November. Improve and finish your foldable for the Digestive System. The students gasped and they thought this was a lot of homework. However, this is Thursday, I do not have them until Tuesday and I want to start pushing them to work at a higher rate and intensity in relation to their learning in science. I want them to reap the rewards of independent hard work and study along side the benefits of team work and active learning.
Double Class, 80 minutes
We corrected the homework. The homework was an task sheet from Glencoe iScience. I find that asking students to engage with processing information is an important part of the learning process. Students are engaging with this system and I am encouraging them to be creative to engage with the information in a personalised fashion. The Glencoe note-taking guide is designed to help the students succeed in learning science content. There are language based activities, an anticipation activity, science journaling, writing activities, vocabulary development, note taking based on the Cornell-Two Column format. chapter wrap-up, review checklist and embedded graphic organisers.
The student notebook provides a systematic approach to learning science by encouraging students to engage by summarizing and synthesizing abstract concepts in their own words. I am going to continue to use this style of learning that encourages the students to reflect. I am asking them to reflect on the active learning activities and record this in a column in the student notebook too.
The classroom was free for the class period before my class, so I spent this class setting up a learning simulation of the human digestive system. Last, year I saw my friend, Aoife McDonnell, teaching the digestive system this way and I decided that I would try it this year. I found this video on YouTube which outlines the process https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aemI64NAK08.
The students were engaged and excited when they entered the room, because all the equipment was prepared and out. I think that placing the equipment out and having it set up (if you have time!) can act as a perplexing stimulus to engage the students as they enter the learning space. Immediately, the students were asking me 'oooh what are we doing today?' and there was a sense of excitement in the room. However, I had planned to review the science notebook/scrapbooking from the day before, so I quickly told them what we were doing, explained we would review the note taking, and then we would start the simulation activity.
I showed the video from YouTube and there was a high level of engagement. They asked 'Are we really going to GET to do that?' I showed the video twice asking them to note key scientific stages in the digestive system. I explained that 'making the poo' in groups of three would be a competition, with two elements dictating the winner. Firstly, the most real faeces produced and secondly, the quality of the group oral presentation explaining the scientific concepts at each stage in the production of the faeces. I think this second part was important because as the students moved from station to station I could see them focusing on the scientific terms and events and asking me questions as each station to clarify knowledge, understanding and concepts.
Some students choose to bring their science notebook with them to learn, apply and develop their knowledge at each station. We measured 9 metres with string and a metre stick, the students then said it looked the distance from corner to corner in the room so we tied it up from corner to corner for the duration of the class. They were amazed at the length of the alimentary canal. I used different food colourings to make solutions of Amylase, Lipase, Protease, HCl and Bile and the students added them at the relevant station. A scissors and potato masher was used in the mouth to simulate mechanical digestion and amylase was added for chemical digestion. The students used a zipper food bag then to transfer the food to the stomach via the oesophagus which they were squeezing to simulate peristalsis. At the stomach, the students added HCl and Protease, and formed chime by squeezing for muscular contractions and relaxations and swirling to simulate churning. The food was then transferred to the tights, where bile, lipase and amylase were added. The nutrients were reabsorbed into the blood by finger-like projections (students stabbed the tights with fingers) to simulate villi. The solid came out the opposite end of the tights. The large intestine was simulate with blue paper towel to reabsorb water from the solid. The solids were placed in a plastic bag to be stored (Rectum) and the corner of the bag was cut and the solid was squeezed out by muscular contractions through the anus. Faeces were eliminated. I think a good idea for future may be to ask the groups to work together, digest different foods, store them all in the rectum and eliminate them together. The students presented their faeces and scientific explanation. The groups presented excellently, across all students, from those who are currently meeting expectations to those we are currently above expectations and those who are currently exceptional. This was a very effective learning task for all students.
Homework: Draw a diagram and write a paragraph in your scrapbook answering:
'What did I learn today?'
L.O. 4: Describe the structure function and interactions of the organs of the human digestive system, circulatory and respiratory system
Strand 5 - Biological Science
Element: Systems and Interactions
LEARNING OUTCOME 4:
DESCRIBE THE STRUCTURE FUNCTION AND INTERACTIONS OF THE ORGANS OF THE HUMAN DIGESTIVE SYSTEM, CIRCULATORY AND RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Students should be able to:
1. Label and state the functions of the organs of the human digestive system
2. Understand the role of the digestive system
3. Explain how the parts of the digestive system work together
4. Create a shutter fold book to illustrate the organs of the digestive system
Single Class, 40 minutes, 7th November 2016
Students worked in pairs for 4 minutes. The students divided their A0 whiteboards into three columns:
I set the countdown timer to 4 minutes and I asked the students to work in pairs to write or draw anything they already know about these three human systems. At the end of the 4 minutes, I used a classroom managament technique which I find is working really well: 'ONe hand up, all hands up and no talking'. I am not sure why this technique is working so well with this group. Perhaps, as I use it sparingly, it is visual and it is quite competitive between the students.
When the students are working in groups, if I, or any student in the class, wishes to get the attention of the whole class, you simply raise your hand. If someone sees you with your hand up, looking around, they must do they same. Once your hand is up, the expectation on you is that you do not talk. The initiator has an opportunity to communicate and then the group work resumes as before.
I am going to ask the students why do they think that this strategy is effective.
The effectiveness of this activity surprised me. As I am trialling a new resource, this next task emerged directly from the '5-E' enquiry lesson structure. The first step in this structure is to pose a detailed, challenging Inquiry question. I heard Dan Meyers speaking at a conference a few years ago and he advised that if you posed an Inquiry question, you should also present a thought stimulating image along side the question. The 5E lesson design supports this approach. I was amazed at how hooked the students were to the question and to the image. I will definitely use this approach again. I think the detailed yet open structure of the question, the quality of the accompanying image and the wait time were crucial components to the success of this hook.
I waited 15 seconds after posing the question-this felt like a LONG wait time but I forced myself to do it. The next step was also effective, I asked the students to discuss the question with their partner and then I asked every student to write down there answer. There was no hiding - all minds were active. As I walked around the lab, I could see all the students answers on the large AO whiteboards. The students suggested that these projections 'caught the food', 'soaked the nutrients into your brain' , 'created enzymes', 'squished the food'. A brief class discussion on possible functions followed. Students started a mind map in their scrapbook and recorded their learning so far in the class.
I asked the students to divide their AO boards into three columns for 3-2-1! This is a tecnhique that I use often with videos. I find that it promotes active listening and engagment with the video. The students must fill in 3 new pieces of information, 2 interesting pieces of information and they must write a question to find out more or to clarify a confusion or misconception. Normally, with first years, as was the case today. I show the video twice. I allowed a 30 second 'fill in' count down after each showing.
I asked the students to label themselves 1 and 2. I asked all number 2's to raise their hand. This was to ensure numbers had been assigned. I explained to students that we were going to participate in Marketplace (Paul Ginnis), but instead, in a condensed form called 'Rapid Marketplace'.
1. I gave students a series of questions, shown above, based on the '5-E' lesson plan design. They had one minute on the countdown timer to read the questions and I asked them to turn over the sheet and place it under the whiteboard, out of sight.
2.I set the countdown timer to 3 minutes, I asked the number 2 students to be active, vibrant stall sellers and the number 1 students had to visit as many stalls as possible in 3 mintes. I asked them to sign their name at the stall, if they felt they had learned something new at that stall.
3.The stall sellers were trying to get as many names as possible, as they got one point per name. This created enthusiasm and excitement among the stallholders, and the noise levels were very high in this activity. When the buzzer sounded after 3 minutes, all student returned to their original seats. I did not ask them to do this, bu this indicates to me that they are reaching a threshold where they are 'trained in' to the active learning methods I am employing. This makes the process smoother, more enjoyable and increases the level of learning for all. I find that the 'training in' period is lengthy and can take up to 8 weeks or more - of course, it is ongoing as I deploy new methods or trial new techniques that I find along the way and as I reflect on the most succesful teaching and learning events.
4. The roaming students had 1 minutes on the countdown timer to share their learning with their stall holder partner. I showed a second video, once more, asking them to complete a 3-2-1. I also showed this video twice, with a fill in break between each one. We repeated the 'Rapid Marketplace' for three minutes with the number 1 student as stallholder. Once again, when the buzzer sounded all students returned to their original seating.
I asked student to complete the introductory mind map to the digestive system- recording and reflecting on their learning. The students did not know what a mind map was. I normally teach the Tony Buzzan (search 'Tony Buzzan mind map' on YouTube) mind mapping technique in second or third year. For today, we used an introductory, basic spider diagram. I think I will teach the Tony Buzzan method in First Year this year.
Students began to answer the series of questions using their mind map, their whiteboard and working collaboratively with their partner.
Homework: Complete the questions, and stick into your scrapbook. The questions are based on the Action Verbs from the science specification. Create a shutter foldable to illustrate the organs of the Digestive System.
On Monday 24th October, students submitted their 3D models of an animal or plant cell. There were 16/20 students who handed in their cell for assessment. There were four students who 'forgot' their cell or did not have it complete. I discussed the reasons one on one and I gave each of them a deadline of Wednesday 26th October. The remaining four cells were submitted on the this date. The students had created the success criteria for this project, and part of the project they wished to present their cell to the rest of the class. This week, I spent the first single class in the computer room with our IT co-ordinator, setting the First Year students with a computer log in. All students presented their cell in the double class on Wednesday. I gave each student 30 seconds to present. I think this made some students feel relaxed and it challenged the students who had more to say.
In this final double class of the half term, after the student presentations, the students carried out their own investigations. I asked them to plan a Halloween themed investigation based on the knowledge and understanding they had gained so far this year. The students planned and carried out the following experiments:
1. To investigate what bread looks like under a light microscope
2. To investigate the conversion of chemical energy in a pumpkin into heat energy
3. To investigate if a pumpkin contains starch
4. To investigate if Halloween sweets have reducing sugar
5. To investigate if a pumpkin had protein
6. To isolate DNA from a kiwi (they had not covered this but these students had completed research and they had a detailed plan). This experiment turned out excellently and the DNA precipitated to the top of the beaker.
The students really enjoyed this experiment day. I think it worked really well to consolidate their learning. The lab was a hive of activity, with different experiments going on. Students were talking to each other about their experiments, explaining them and discussing what was working and what was not working. For example, there was not a large amount of energy in a pumpkin. All groups presented their experiments to the rest of the class. The students showed great interest in listening to each other, particularly in relation to the DNA investigation.
I collected up their scrapbooks that act as a reflection of their learning. The students assessed the cells as Exceptional, above expectations or meeting expectations according to the success criteria that we created. I will correct their scrapbooks by comment only and use a similar grading system - exceptional, above and meeting expectations.
Overall, I am happy with the teaching and learning on this new science adventure. I have learned and reflections more than I usually would, however, I have only cells, the microscope and food covered and I would normally have more content covered. I hope that this pace reflects deeper learning and engagement of my students. I did not give a written mid term test but I will give one after the mid term break.
Every year from day one I always have first years asking when can we blow something up. A lot of primary school teachers are putting a lot of effort into their science classes and the kids arrive expecting big things from big school. This year was no different, especially after showing them how the gas taps & Bunsens work.
"Sir can we blow something up?"
"Can we burn something"
"Let's do an experiment with fire"
My usual response is to distract them with other experiments that were prescribed by the old curriculum, not very innovative, but it's what I did.
This year with the new emphasis on Nature of Science I said "sure, why not", but before we did anything the students would have to prove there was scientific merit to the experiment. "Just to see what happens" doesn't cut it.
Over the course of the next few classes I gave 5-10 minutes to discussing possible options/ideas for experiments. Through group discussion we settled on vinegar and baking soda. A standard experiment that a lot of them had done in primary school, but I wanted them to take it further. Their homework that night was to research the science behind the reaction and think of what we could measure. During the class I had introduced the words quantitative and qualitative and explained the meaning behind them.
It took 5/10 minutes each from another two classes to settle on the design of the experiment, this involved very fruitful discussion on what we could measure (colour change, CO2 produced) how we could measure it (observation, circumference of a balloon) and what we would vary during the experiment (quantities and heat supplied). We discussed why it might be better for each group to carry out the same 2-3 variations of the experiment rather than everyone doing different ones, we examined the equipment available in the lab and tried to decide what we could use.
On experiment day I took quite a bit of control (they are first years after all) I decided the most accurate way to carry out the experiment would be the setup used for production of oxygen, but using a boiling tube with an arm instead of a Buchner flask.
I drew a diagram of the experimental setup on the board and got each group to come up and collect each piece of equipment as they needed it. We agreed to test 5g of baking soda with 10ml of vinegar first. We practised filling the graduated cylinder and placing it on the beehive shelf without any air inside, we practised stoppering the tube before we added the vinegar, having one student assigned pour and another assigned to stopper. We discussed what they expected would happen during the experiment and how they would read the result, most seemed a bit confused by this so I just decided to go for it.
I can't believe how well the experiment went, four of the groups ended up with roughly the same value for CO2 produced, some struggled with stoppering in time, others had spilled either the baking soda or vinegar during the process. I wrote all results on the board and got the average, we debated whether to include all results given things had gone wrong in some.
We then repeated the experiment but with 10g of baking soda and 10ml of vinegar. Almost all had an issue stoppering it quickly enough this time and all groups say a reduction in CO2 produced, but they saw from their tubes it was because a lot of baking soda was left over and they used the words "it hasn't all reacted".
I'm absolutely thrilled with the result and would definitely recommend it to others. Maybe not this exact experiment (although it does work nicely).
Week 7 Class 21 40 minutes
Correcting homework: The students were asked to write a scientific report of their investigations of the biomolecules in different foods. I asked the students to nominate themselves as Green (I have no blanks) - 3 students choose this colour, orange (I have blanks and I was not sure of parts of the homework- 14 students choose this colour) and red (I found the homework really difficult, I have many blanks or I do not have the homework done - 5 students chose this colour). I paired the three Greens with the three red students who choose red, they had completed the homework but they found it difficult). I recorded homework not done for the other two Reds and I followed school procedures for no homework. The oranges paired with another orange, and they had to 'ask three, before they asked me' to try and close the gaps in their homework. This part of the class lasted about ten minutes.
Task 1: Review of the homework
We recorded the strengths and weaknesses of the homework on the A0 whiteboard and one student summarised theses on the main whiteboard at the front. I explained Peer Assessment to the class and we discussed how it may benefit learning to assess the work of a peer. The students were asked to roam the room and put a wish for improvement on the reports, mainly based on the content we had summarised onto the main whiteboard. This worked well but there were a few things I would change. Firstly, the students did not read the wishes of other pupils and the wishes repeated themselves. We agreed as a class that this was not beneficial and that we would read comments when peer assessing in future. Secondly, comments not related to the assessment were beginning to appear on the work. I addressed this by class discussion. What is the purpose of the peer assessment? Would it benefit learning if we do not write comments for improvement? What is the purpose of science class? What is your role in the learning and development of your peers? The students agreed that comments that progress the work of another in a supportive manner is the only acceptable form of feedback. The 'Ask Three, before you ask Me' worked really well with this class and it reduced their reliance on the teacher as the main source of information. It encouraged students to collaborate and work together as a first port of call, rather than calling on the teacher first.
Task 2: The biography of biologists
The students remained in the same pairs from Task 1. This worked well as they were mixed ability- green with red, and oranges with oranges. I gave a handout with 8 biographies of biologists. Each biography had 5 - 6 sentences about the main achievements of the scientists and a photograph of the scientist. I asked the students to pick one scientist and to create a silent mime that the other students could guess who they were miming - similar to a game of charades. The students really enjoyed this and they were very quick to work together to create a mime. They quickly started asking me, 'can we practice?' This surprised me as with other presentations they were not as confident. I think I will do more silent mimes/presentations to get them comfortable standing up in front of the class, as some students were really struggling with speaking in front of the class. There were some funny/interesting comments when I handed out the sheet:
Is Conor McGregor a scientist? (when they saw Gregor Mendel!!)
Is Edward Jennifer a boy or a girl?
Each group presented their mimes and they other students had to guess which scientist they were miming. This was great fun and very well presented by all students. They really enjoyed it.
Homework: Using your research skills, choose a scientist from the page and create an interview with a biologist of your choice. The interview must have at least six questions. The answers must be at least two sentences long. Record the interview in your scrapbook. Based on the information, create a mime so that other students can guess which scientist you interviewed.
Week 5 Double Class 80 minutes
We have four 1st year science classes, and we have three science labs. The timetabling this year has all first year science classess scheduled at the same time. We have set up a rota for the labs and this week I was in the classroom for the double period. I decided that I would continue with the food tests and complete 3 out of 4. I planned for the test for starch, the test for protein and the test for fat. I will do the test for reducing sugar in the next single class when I have the hotplates in the lab.
When I arrived at the classroom, I was diverted to the Technical Graphics room, as there was a speaker in for TY in the science demo room (the tiered room in most schools around the country!). We set off for the tech graph room at the other end of the school, 12 A0 whiteboards, markers, one basin of water, the food test experiment box and 20 first years in tow. On arrival, a quick rearrangement of the room and a note to myself that there was a carpet floor in this room. We stored the drawing boards to the side of the room and rearragned the double desks into three groups. There were six students at each double table, split into two groups of students for the double class. There was no laptop in this room, but there was a projector. I asked the students to bring in four foods each, that they would be interested to test for food types. Inevitably, some students did not bring food samples, while other students asked did they have to test the chocolate as they would really like to eat it at lunch!!
Task 1: Design an experiment to test for starch.
Student worked in groups of 3. I set my stopwatch to 8 minuites. I reminded them to make a title, list your apparatus (I highlighted the spelling of this as from correcting their scrapbooks this required correcting), write your proposed method, design a results table, leave a space for your conclusion and draw a labelled diagram. I questioned them: What might make a fair test? What is a control? What substance is readily available to you, that you know does not contain starch? Do most animal/plant products contain starch? What do you think? What substance is available that is not derived from plants or animals? It took students a long time to discover that water could be their control. I resisted telling them and it was difficult. There were light bulb moments and cheers as students realised it was water. This part of the class generated quite alot of noise at times. I am not sure whether it was more noise that in the lab or whether I was more conscious of the noise as I was in a different part of the school with other classes nearby. Some students had tested food for starch in Primary school, however, they did not design and experiment and the nature of experimental design is new to them. I think that this was a good experiment to ask them to design as they had some prior knowledge. They also came up with designs which were not viable but which allowed me to pose questions to deepen their understanding. For example, one student suggested crushing the food in the mortar and pestle, adding water to make it a liquid, draining the liquid through a sieve and he wanted to see if he could see the sugar particles in the sieve because starch is a sugar. I asked him a few questions: Do you think the sugar/starch particles are big enough to be trapped in a sieve? Do you think you could see them if they were? Finally, as a scientist, if you could see the sugar/starch, is that proving that they are sugar/starch? When you say sugar, do you mean carbohydrate?
We have chosen a textbook, Catalyst. We chose this book as it is based on an enquiry approach to teaching science. The students will purchase an ebook only and we will have 24 copies of the book in each lab, should the teacher wish to use it in class.
After ten minutes, students presented their title, apparatus and method to the class. Each group was given a spotting tile, mortar and pestle, droppers, and iodine dropper bottle. The groups carried out the test for iodine on four food types. They discovered the colour change. They learned that the colour change is the result. They learned that a conclusion is explaining why this happened - because starch is present. They also realised the importance of water as a control as they said they could look back to see the original colour and compare.
Task 2: To design an experiment to test for protein
I allowed them to discuss and debate their method on their whiteboards for five minutes. It was interesting that most groups decided that Iodine was the chemical they would use again. When I questioned them on this, 'if you used Iodine to test for protein then how do you know the difference between the test for starch and the test for protein?' They realied there must be a difference chemical reagant used. At this point, I informed them it was called Biuret solution. I gave each group a dropper bottle of Biuret. They straight away said 'ok it is blue so that colour change is blue -> __________'. All groups tested four foods for protein using a mortar and pestle, dropper and spotting tile.
Task 3: To design and experiment to test for fat
I began this task in the same way. I asked them to design the experiment using the headings. The students were more confident at this stage and I think designing the three experiments in the same double was hard for them but it helped them to apply and think through the scientific method many times, while working as part of a group. It was difficult for me to allow them to discover the method and I really had to resist telling them!!
There are personalities emerging and disagreements are beginning to appear, where certain students are asking to move group and they realise who they like to work with and who they work well with. This is something I will need to think about and monitor. I think mixed gender groups, and pre planned mixed ability groups will be implemented strictly from here in.
In this taask, the students applied their knowledge that water should be used as a control and that it 'dried out and left no mark'. They also noticed how the brown paper 'went see through' and 'didn't dry out' when compared with the paper that they put water on. They recorded their result and their conclusion.
I thought of this on the spot, as I think being in a different place and with the move, I felt they were unsettled. I used a simple strategy today which I explained near the beginning of the class, when I realised that I needed it. When I out my hand up, all students must stop what they are doing, face me and put their hand up. This signalled I had an instruction or something to say. This worked well for me today and all students responded well to this.
I will assess their knowledge and understanding by grading their experiment reports by comment only. I am interested to see how they write up their reports.
1. Write a scientific report for the three scientific experiments that you designed in Science Matters experiment book.
2. We stuck in the learning intention: 'Conduct investigations to find out the biomolecules present in different foods' Write a reflection in your scrapbook on your experiences of designing and carrying out the experiment - refer to the key skills that you applied and the learning intention in your reflection.
Single Class Class 15 40 minutes
This week I have been inspired on twitter by following #poundlandpedagogy, created by Isabella Wallace. I buy many of my teaching and learning resources in a poundland shop in Ireland called Mr Price, Terryland, Galway.
This week I was introducing food and biomolecules to the First Year students. Firstly, I wanted to investigate the prior knowledge of the students so that we can link new knowledege to their prior knowledge.
Task 1: 'Paper Scientists'
I gave each pupil a Paper Person Template. I put the students in mixed ability groups of 4. I gave each group a task card with four biologists biographies and a photograph of the biologist. I asked each student to imagine they are that biologist (this incorporates the Nature of Science and learning about scientists), name their Paper Person and record all that they know about food on their paper person. We stuck all the people on our 'What I Know Now' board and we will review their person as we gain knowledge on the topic.
Task 2 : High 5!
I asked students to place their hand on their scrapbook and to draw an outline of it.
I gave each group of 4 students a task card, with information on carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and water. I asked them to choose the keywords from the task cards and to write them on their AO whiteboards. I asked the students to review and edit their choices. I allowed them to nominate a 'roamer' who could walk around the room to look at the keywords that other groups had chosen. The roamer could report back to his group. The students worked together to place a biomolecule outside the thumb and four fingers. I asked the students to fill each relevant digit with key words from that biomolecule.
Task 3: Design an experiment to test for food types
1. I placed students in groups of 4 and I asked them to design and experiment to test a food for the presence of starch.
2. I created and laminated a stack of information cards on how to test for starch and I placed them faced down in a pile in front of each group.
3. The members of the group were numbered 1-4. Number 1 stated an idea and wrote it on the board, this continued through members 2-4.
4. When all group members have contributed, the group discuss ideas about how to conduct the experiment. The stopwatch is on the overhead projector.
5. If they have not agreed on a procedure by the time it reaches 6 minutes, they can turn over the first card.
6. They must discuss for 1 minute before they turn over the next card.
7. This continues until either a procedure is agreed on or all the cards are turned over.
8. The group can then rearrange the cards to help them build a procedure for the experiment.
9. The group works together to draw a labelled diagram of apparatus to match their planned experiment.
Task 4: Paper Scientists review
Students review and edit 'what they know now'.
Task 5: Monthly review of the 'Washing Line'
At the start of September the students ranked the elements of the key skills from most important to least important to them. They reviewed their choice and used pegs to move their cards with their initials.
Homework: Add information from the internet and add images to your 'High 5' hand.
Correcting homework: Students opened up their report on their investigation of the animal cell. They had the headings for writing up a report. I had asked them to write a report, with their key skill: communicating, bullet points beside them.
It was interesting to look at the various attempts and in general they represented a very low standard of reporting.
Task 1: Peer assessment for learning and improvement
I am finding the progress through the content is slow, but I am calling this period 'the training in time' for myself, the teacher, and the first year students.
Task 2: Designing an experiment with teacher scaffolding
This worked really well and as pairs finished, I split them and sent them to teach struggling pairs. The students love moving and they love the social interaction. I think this is really important for Junior students to enjoy learning in an inclusive, active learning environment. I have noticed students commenting that the class goes by very quickly and they are often shocked when the bell goes - to me, this indicates a very high level of engagement in the tasks set to them. I am going to survey the students next week to investigate which activities they are enjoying, what they would like more of and what they would like less of, as I think student autonomy and student voice gives control of the learning into the hands of the students. I think they feel more responsible for the tasks when they have contributed to their planning and design.
Task 3 - Introducing study techniques
At the end of this task, everyone in the class could recall and write the steps and diagrams of the preparation of an onion cell.
Homework: Recall the experiment seven times - writing, teaching it to another person, making a power-point, creating a video. I allowed the students to choose the mediums by which they would recall the information. The students were told they would be asked to carry out the experiment from memory in the double class next week, working in pairs.
Class 11 - 80 minutes
1. Reflections - Students were asked to write a learning reflection for homework. Students were asked to read their reflections and write it up on the 'Magic Whiteboard' beside the relevant, laminated key skill. There were 4 students who did not write up their reflection and they siad that they did not understand how to do it. I paired them up with a student who had the reflections done to a high standard and I asked them to explain how they did it. I had a line of 'Magic Whiteboards' down the long side of the lab and I had a key skill with its detailed components stuck up beside each one, as in the photograph. Students took a whiteboard markers and wrote up their reflections from their homework onto the relevent 'Magic Whiteboard' according to the Key Skill.
2. One 'Magic Whiteboard' was titled - 'Differences between plant and animal cells' - I asked students to write their bullet points on the differences between plant and animal cells and place them on the 'Magic Whiteboard.' Our Science Department bought the 'Magic Whiteboard' rolls online from Viking. We also bought the A4 'Show Me' whiteboards online from Viking.
Students glue a Learning Log into their scrapbook. There are three columns:
Key words, labelled diagrams and What I learnt today. Students complete their Learning Log throughout the class.
Students are given a microscope with no labels and loose labels in a bag. Student work in pairs to justify and discuss which label should be assigned to which part. I put a countdown timer on to give the students a sense of urgency and motivation. I allowed them 3 minutes. I was aware that many students had prior light microscope experience from primary school. At the end of the three minutes, I flashed the solutions up on the projector for 20 seconds. The students had 30 seconds to discuss and place labels. I asked students to mix up the labels and this time we made the task a race. Each student received a bag with a non-labelled microscope and labels. The students raced their partner to see who could label the microscope first. We swopped partners and repeated this race three times.
I have read before that seven recalls of information will transfer information to your long term memory. I always try to get my students to recall as many times as possible during class. I teach them about study techniques and the reason for this as I go. I suppose I have the terminal exam that they must complete in the back of my head at tall times, after all there is a 90% exam at the end of these three years!
Students work in pairs to design an experiment to investigate real plant and animal cells. There are some students with prior knowledge and experience in this topic. Students designed their ideas on their A0 whiteboards according to the scientific method headings. These headings were laminated and they had to put them in the correct cyclical sequence,in conjunction with designing their experiment. I told the students I would put a sticker on the board of the three best experimental designs and I gave them 10 minutes on the countdown timer.
The students really struggled with this task, however, there was valuble learning in the process. Students came up with creative ideas, some which were possible in the lab and some which were not of course possible - for eg; they suggested cutting off skin cells with a scalpel to look at them!!! However, I think it is the process of managing their thinking, working with their partner to discuss a process and applying the scientific method was very valuble. This process of allowing the students to think and design is slower than the traditional route where they follow the recipe. Students struggle and often as the teacher I found it difficult to let them struggle but when they finish the process they have gained in skills and knowledge, far beyond what they would have gained by reading a method. There were a few students with prior experience. I choose their three boards as presenters and I asked the other groups to get ideas from what those groups presented.
Task 4: Preparing a plant cell slide
Students gather their apparatus and prepare their plant cell for observation under a light microscope. I demonstrated the lowering of a coverslip with a mounted needle and I demonstrated how the basic parts of the microscope work. I asked them to let me know if they discovered anything else they could function differently on the microscope to give a better magnificaiton. I asked the students to examine the microscope for labels of possible magnificaitons and to calculate the total magnification.
I also outlined the safety precautions. I challenged the students to observe the slides under three maginfications and to investigate how to calualte the total maginifcation. I asked the students to record what they could see by drawing labelled diagrams in their Practical Experiment books (we are using the Science Matters Experiment books). I reminded students that scientists are very exact and that they record everything they see or do, regardless of whether it proves or disproves their hypothesis to ensure they avoid bias.
In one instance, a student spoke out of turn/shouted across the room, I asked him to reflect and to go over to the 'Magic Whiteboard' and to choose a key skill. I asked him to reflect on how he will improve in that area and to write a statement on it in relation to that skill. I think this worked well a positive reinforcement for a negetive behaviour and learning occured. I am sure it will need to be used many times and it may not always work. This was an idea that occured to me on the 'spur of the moment' but I think I will continue to use it now.
Students were asked to write up a scientific investigation report for the experiment, using the headings of the scientific method and labelled diagrams of their results.
This activity is a modification of 'Silent Sentences' by Paul Ginnis from his book 'The Teacher's Toolkit'. This class was quite hectic and the lack of free movement space in the lab hinders this activity, however, with strict marshaling, it worked. The numbers on the cells were a disadvantage, I did not realise they were numbered, however, the students thought if they ordered the numbers correctly this would be the correct sequence, this was not the case. As a result, students were focusing on the numbers rather than the cells and this reduced their learning in relation to being able to differentiate between plant and animal cells.
3. Each group placed their cut up cells and headings on one table.
4. Each group was re-assigned 10 random cards (8 rectangle and 2 small rectangle). The remainder of the cards stayed on the central bench.
5. The challenge was for each team to assemble one correct chart. The team members walk around the room in silence, they looked for a cell they might need and they trading in their cells for a new one.
6. The following rules were applied: (although we had three re-starts due to lack of rule application)
8. When a team has a set of finished cells and headings they stand as a group, put their hands in the air and say FINISHED in unison. If their sequence is incorrect, they were eliminated. If they did not finish in unison they were eliminated (to emphasis teamwork).
9. The activity continues until every team has a full correct chart. This activity works best when there is only one correct answer, the cell is either a plant cell or an animal cell.
1. All cut out cards are put back on to the main bench.
2. The students take out their scrapbook and pritt stick glue.
3. The first group to have all cards assorted and stuck into their scrapbook is the winner. I conducted this as a race, and it was manic. However, I made sure it was still in 'Silence', which definitely helped me to manage the movement and excitement.
I did not have enough time to formally debrief the activity with students. I think the next time i sue this I will ensure there is enough time for a debrief as I think this is valuable in two ways. Firstly, the eliminate misconceptions, errors and confusions and secondly, to reflect on the application of the key skills of the JCPA and in particular roles, group dynamics, collaboration and using your key skills to overcoming challenges and to complete the tasks through the activity.
I think this activity is valuable as it engages the students by heightening their mental processes because speaking is eliminated. The kinaesthetic and visual learners are in their element in this activity. These tasks require self-discipline and I think this is an area which really challenged my class today. They were trading in a forceful manner and grabbing cards instead of trading with manners. They improved in this area as the class progressed. This activity was a very valuable form of formative assessment. It allows for many interactions between students and between teachers and students. I think this activity would work well in a team teaching setting also.
1. A learning reflection - What did I learn today? (5 sentences, making reference to the key skills and the learning outcome: Investigating the structures of animal and plant cells)
2. Analyse your assorted chart, describe as many differences as you can between the plant and animal cells. Remember to organise and present your information clearly and concisely in a mode which you think is suitable.
Class 9 - 40 minutes
Each student placed a post-it beside their plant cell. I was inspired by the professional dialogue on the firstname.lastname@example.org forum for Irish science teachers, so I decided to begin to incorporate the 'Features of Quality' for assessment of the work of the students. I decided to incorporate peer assessment and to assess in a formative style (AfL) from the Assessment guidelines for the Junior Cycle Science specification. Each student titled the post-it 'My friends feedback to me:' divided their post-it into four columns. The students titled each column:
1. Exceptional (E) - green sticker
2. Above expectations (AE) - blue sticker
3. In line with expectations (ILE) - orange sticker
4. Yet to meet expectations (YME) - red sticker
All students moved around the room in silence assessing the work of their peers. I moved around the room correcting the homework by comment only. I gave one star and one wish to each student. I was very surprised by the high standard of diagrams. I have never experienced such a high standard of labelled diagrams, which of course had a range of standards within. As yet, my students do not have access to a textbook. I believe this is liberating for them as there are no limits to what they can or should learn. As a teacher, I feel I am not limited by what I can teach to who. We have not made a deliberate decision not to use a textbook, we have not chosen one yet.
From my experience to date this term, the standard of knowledge and understanding acquired by them during homework tasks is limited only by their individual abilities, whereas before I believe they used their textbook as a benchmark. In this way, all students are achieveing their personal best. I must also note at this point, that this is the first time I have had a First Year group where all students have internet access at home.
The students completed a mix and match sorting activity of the cell parts, description and function. On reflection, this activity was quite difficult for First Year students. However, I adapted it in the following ways during the task.
The students were finding great difficulty sorting the parts from the descriptions and functions to form columns and subsequently aligning them in rows.
The students participated in a teaching and leanring activity called: 'Who am I?'
The bell for the end of the hectic 40 minutes sounded as we finished this activity. I think these two activities were too busy for a 40 minutes class. I think, in future, I will spread theses two tasks over two 40 minutes classes.
Homework: Each student stuck in a plant cell and an animal cell. They must label and state the function of each part on the diagram.
Class 7 - 40 minutes
Homework correction: Each student placed their new response cards in the labelled box for them in the lab.
Today I was reminded how quickly First Year students decide whether they like learning or whether they do not learning. As the bell went for the end of the class, one student exclaimed, 'I actually like science class....its good craic!'. I was quickly reminded that students are difficult audience to entertain and educate at the same time. This student waited until the seventh class to state his judgement. As educators, we play such an important role in collectively developing a positive attitude to learning. I was happy that this student was judging his learning and engaged in the process. This also reminded me that I need to provide an opportunity for student voice in relation to the teaching and learning methodologies employed. I think I will work with the students to design a self evaluation questionnaire for the best teaching and learning methodologies to optimise learning science.
Science Circuits: I set out seven stations in the lab. I put the student in six predetermined groups. I choose one student from each group to be the team captain. All team captains spent 10 minutes discussing, analysing and learning information cards on 'the cell'. I projected a video to the remainder of the class, where I asked them to complete a 3-2-1! on A4 whiteboards. They had to choose 3 new facts, 2 interesting facts and one question, from the video. At the end of the video, the students has 1 minute to roam the room and read the 3-2-1 of the other students.
Before we began the circuits on 'the cell' I gave the students a TEST on the cell. They had one minute to look at it and then they returned it to me. I used the countdown timer to give them a sense of urgency. The students were told they would complete the test after the 'Science Circuits' activity.
We began the circuits. Each team captain was in charge of teaching at each station. Each station was given 3 minutes. The captains remained and the other students rotated. The students brought an A4 whiteboard with them to record key elements of their learning at each circuit. The students completed each station and completed a full circuit. I gave them 10 minutes to return to their original group and to teach their team captain everything that they had learned.
All student completed the test. I gave out marking schemes and they self assessed their test with marks and a comment. The students learned how to calculate a test score and to convert it to a percentage. Students reviewed their performances, identified key achievements and some areas for improvement in their scrapbook. They glued the test sheet into their scrapbook.
Draw two labelled diagrams into your scrapbook using pencil:
1. a plant cell
2. an animal cell.
Class 6 - 80 minutes
1. Peer assessment of the creation of their reflection of images and text in relation to the Characteristics of Life: The students stick a 'funnel' graphic organiser into their scrapbook. The scrapbooks were passed around and assessed by other students. The book were folded so the identity of the student was not revealed. The strengths of the work were written inside the funnel and the areas for improvement were written outside the funnel. The teacher also participated in this activity. I gave the students feedback on their homework by comment only.
2. Speed dating: students bring their 3-2-1! and line up facing another student in the aisle of the lab. Each student has 20 seconds to share their 3-2-1! with the student opposite them and vice versa.
Task 1: Back to back
Task 2: Recall in Pairs
The pairs of students were given one minute to study the ten cards. The cards are laminated and clearly labelled and titled. The cards were:
The students turned the cards face down. The teacher called out a number and a title. The students were asked to work together to draw the image on that card. Each pair was working co-opertively in a race against the other pairs. There was no physical prize/points for winners, but the learning was emphasized as the reward. I repeated this until I had called out all ten cards. This brought good energy and urgency to the learning in the classroom. All students appeared engaged.
The online countdown timer was put on the overhead projector. The students were given 2 minutes to study the cards. The students placed the cards face down on the table when the buzzer sounded to indicate that the time was up. I called out a number and a title and the students were racing against their partner in a competition. The first student in a pair to draw and label the diagram correctly won. The students indicated they were finished by standing up. The teacher inspected the image, if there were any errors the winning point was forfeited to the sitting student. This was repeated 3 times for each pair. Each student competed against 6 partners. This resulted in 18 recalls of the diagram, I think it takes 7 recalls to get information to your long term memory.
Students were asked to work in pairs to create a flow diagram on their AO whiteboard, using markers and the laminated cards. The countdown timer was set to ten minutes. I would be circulating and if I placed a sticker on their board, this marked their group as presenters. I choose the best three groups and placed stickers on their boards. I rotated throught the full ten minutes, but I did not put stickers on until the ninth minute was underway. The students were asked to describe the levels and to justify why they thought that living things might be organised in this way. At the end of the ten minutes, each of the three stickered groups presented their flow diagram to the rest of the class.
Students were placed with a new partner. I gave the students information boxes with text that related to the diagrams from task 1 and task 2. I asked the students to work in pairs to logically assemble the images and the text, according to the organisation of life. The countdown timer was set to 12 minutes. At 12 minutes, the two's became four, and they had six minutes to work together to logically assemble the material. Finally, four became eight and they shared their ideas and created one flow chart, once again, justifying their selections.
Students were asked to investigate the variety of living things on the school grounds, by direct observation, with 20 minutes to complete the task. The students were placed in groups of three. Each student received: a grassland animal, a grassland plants key, a clipboard, a compass, a map, a pen and recording chart, per group. The students followed the map to orineteer to 20 locations on the school grounds. I used an orienteering map of the school from PE (I am also a PE teacher so I had this from PE) and I completed the observations using the 'star orienteering' method. I stood in the centre of the areas for observation. There were markers on the map at the 20 locations. The students returned to the centre of the start after each station to record their findings. I found this useful as I could assess their work, and keep them on task. It also created some competition and it also meant that different students were looking in different areas at different times. The students were also very active and they raised their heart rate in a science class! This was my first attempt at star orienteering for the direct observation of plants and animals. I would definitely use it again, except I would ask the students to bring runners and I think I would also put a question to answer at each station, along with an observation.
1. Student must create a flow chart, with text and images, based on the organisation of life and record it in their scrapbook.
2. Each student must create a personalized response card. They choose 6 apparatus from the science lab and create their card. Each student must create, for example:
Class 5 - 40 minutes
Homework: teacher assessed with two stars and a wish comment only feedback. Students worked in pairs to explain their Statement of Learning (SOL) pictures to each other. I rotated around the room checking and giving feedback. All students were asked to respond to the feedback with a written comment reflecting on the feedback they received. They should set one specific goal for improvement.
Students were placed in groups of 3 with an A0 whiteboard and a marked each. Each group received two 'Characteristics of Life' resource cards. The cards contained text, images and colour. A countdown timer was projected on the screen (www.google.ie -> countdown timer -> view full screen). Each group were given 15 minutes to create a presentation on the 'Characteristics of Life' based on their prior knowledge and the information contained on the resource cards. They were told that they would only have 60 seconds to present their work. Each group received six role cards and each student was given a number 1,2 or 3. They could assign all 6 roles among the three group members or they could prioritize the roles. The roles were: checker, scribe, noise monitor, time keeper, reporter, team leader.
I rotated around the lab, interacting, questioning, prompting, and keeping the students on task. I think that the countdown timer motivated the students and fifteen minutes was a suitable period of time for completion. At 8 minutes, I allowed one student from each group to move around the room and to scan the work of other groups. They could bring back ideas to their group. They must have returned to their group before the countdown timer showed 6 minutes.
When the time was up, I chose student number 2 as the presenter. This student remained at the station as a presenter. 1 and 3 received a sentence strip each. Each 1 and 3 pairing spent 60 seconds at each station. I rang a bell every 60 seconds. I allowed the students ten seconds to rotate to the next station. The students rotated in a predetermine, clockwise manner on the bell every 60 seconds. The students used the sentence strips to record learning as they rotated from station to station.
The students cleared their sentence strip. They completed either a sentence strip on 'What I now know...' or 'Key skills that I applied today...'. The students posted their sentence strip on their First Year Science noticeboard as they exited the lab. I will highlight any spelling errors at the next lesson - 'COMMUNACATING' should be 'communicating'. I am worried as there is a spelling mistake on a noticeboard but I will edit this and highlight it to them in the next class. However, the noticeboard is helping with my authentic feedback and it reminded me about the importance of literacy. I also have an assessment of possible problem areas, in this instance, the spelling of the word, 'communication'.
1. Students were asked to create a reflection of their learning in relation to 'Characteristics of Life'. Each student was given a photocopy of the 'Characteristics of Life' resource card. They must stick this into the scrapbook and create their reflection of images and text around it.
2. Students were asked to find/research the Characteristics of Life. They must complete a '3-2-1!' -three new facts, two interesting facts and one question.
Class 3 - 40 minutes
Correcting homework:Firstly, I asked students to open their scrapbooks and to show me their homework. I gave them a green, orange or red sticker: White = exceptional, Green = Above expectation, orange=in line with expectations, blue= yet to meet expectations. the students surprised me with their ability to create images from the key skills and descriptors. Most students received green or orange, with one each achieving white and blue.
Secondly, I asked the student to put a Post-It on their homework and to draw 'Two Stars and A Wish' on the Post-Its. All students swapped scrapbooks in preparation for Peer Assessment. The students were shocked that I was asking them to assess their peers work by making two positive statements (two stars) and a statement from improvement (a wish). They were hesitant and I had to prompt them with a few example of what might be good about the images and what aspects might need improvement.
For example, 'a nice clear image with labels', or 'well done you used pencil to create your image.'
Again, I think I could improve this by creating marking rubrics and success criteria for the students to work from. I think we can build towards this. I also think that I should allocate the stickers according to success criteria to offer the students to set achievable goals. I will definitely use peer assessment and teacher assessment again to correct homework. It was time efficient and teacher and student learning occurred as a result.
During the main part of the class, I decided to introduce the students to the Statements of Learning (SOL) of the Junior Cycle. I printed and laminated the Statements of Learning (SOL) on A3 in colour, as in the photo below. I placed the students in predetermined mixed ability and mixed gender groups. Each group had a whiteboard, a marker each and a laminated A3 card with the SOL.
I asked the students to read the statements of learning in their groups. There were many questions about the meaning of L.1 and L.2. on the sheet! I think I would edit this if I was to use it again. I asked the students to decide as a group which SOL they believed were relevant to their study of Science. I asked them to circle the numbers that were relevant with a whiteboard marker. They used the whiteboards to create images of their choice of SOL. They numbered each image as they were numbered on the sheet. I found this activity interesting as students were asking me: 'how many statements were correct?'. I responded by telling them that there was no correct answer that it was a matter of opinion relevant to their knowledge and that this opinion may evolve over time. I think that this activity put the students in control of their own learning, emphasized student voice and motivated the students by allowing them choose statements. I photocopied an A4 version of the SOL and each student received one.
Finally, we discussed the BT Young Scientist Exhibition. I asked the students to brainstorm on the whiteboard for observations, questions or problems from their everyday life that they would like to fix. I explained that they next step after observation is Hypothesis, which is a question or statement based on your observation. There were four groups that created observations alone, and two groups created observations and hypothesis. I also gave a poster describing details of how to enter the BT Young Scientist.
1. Glue the SOL into your scrapbook
2. Read the SOL and choose which ones that you independently think are important for science-the students were encouraged to discuss the SOL's at home before making their final decisions.
3. Draw and label images for each SOL in your scrapbook-look back at today's feedback before your begin your images.
4. Make observations and develop hypothesis based on your everyday life.