I have been meaning to review Activate for some time now. I felt like it was a big leap of faith to buy into the scheme and I wasn't entirely sure I was doing the right thing. At first glance he scheme seemed very worksheet heavy, I was disappointed that the presentations are online and in a form that I cannot edit easily and the scheme seems to go at a tremendous pace. However, I am very pleased I did choose it.
So far we have taught cells, particles and forces.
I have taught almost every lesson as per the scheme work. I have used the presentations and been happy with them. I have used the worksheets and found them well thought out and constructed - although 3 worksheets for one experiment does always seem excessive and my students' books are getting fat. My technician doesn't seem to have any issues with the teacher/technician notes.
Some of the activities are imaginative and the questions make the students think. I am pleased with the way the scheme has developed the graphing skills of the students, giving scaffold and slowing removing it part by part. It was useful to help me assess the level of my students without over complicating things in the first place.
I have watched two videos that are made for the scheme and I think they are really good. I like the way they sum up what they are trying to get across at the end of the clip. They are short and to the point, which I like too.
I have used the online tests with my students and there are mixed reviews from the girls. They have had a bad experience with Geography not working well so are not so keen to do all the tests I set for Science. The tests are hard, however they do help to focus the learning of the girls onto the key points and highlight correct use of vocabulary. They also cover all areas, so I am finding it important to closely cover the scheme of work so that the girls can access the tests.
The girls are not using their access to the online textbook as much as I would like. I don't use textbooks much, so it is probably my influence. The internet connection at school isn't great so the slowness of the response also means that we don't use the online book. However, I do think it is preferable to them carrying a big textbook around and when BT do (eventually) connect the fibre optic cable - maybe that should be 'if' - I think that we will start to use the book more. What I do find disappointing is that the resources for each lesson/double page spread are not associated easily with the corresponding page of the textbook. This means that students can't easily find the presentation to follow on their own device. They have to search through menus of resources. I think this is something OUP should work on. I would love for the girls to be able to do some of the interactive tasks themselves rather than wait their turn to use the computer.
The proof will be in the understanding the girls have when they reach GCSE. I want more students to be confident and want to choose triple science. Even after two and a bit years I have not managed to crack this. Perhaps I never will, but it is an aspiration.
I should add as a note that I was observed teaching one of the lessons, and I stuck to the scheme of work. I was able to get it to fit to the 5Es without any struggle and the Head was very happy with the lesson. (Outstanding).
I look forward to continuing with the scheme and developing its use within the department.