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.