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.