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.