Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Confidence Grids. Mixed reviews: but I like it.

I have been inspired by the York Science project (www.yorkscience.org.uk ) to use diagnostic questions with my students. York Science have already produced lots of examples for key stage 3, but after a suggestion about using examiners reports on their blogs I decided to change my attention to GCSE classes. http://yorkscience.org.uk/making-best-use-of-exam-questions/

I made some over the summer as examples for the department, but yesterday and today was the first time that I tried them with a GCSE class. I gave the question in the image above to both my year 11 chemistry classes. It was a review of the last section where they learned about using temperature to change the rate of reaction.

I was really pleased with the results. From my point of view I could see who had misconceptions and might write the wrong thing in an exam: those who did not understand English enough to realise why an answer is wrong. For example the answer 'the collisions are faster gave a lot of debate in the class as to why this did not mean the same thing as 'the collisions are more frequent'.

I asked the students afterwards, a few did not like the activity. They did not want to get the question wrong in the first place and found it hard to understand. A few didn't mind the activity. And some were pleased as they liked that you could see the sort of statements that wouldn't give you marks and therefore know how to avoid them.

I think that this is a great activity to use with a class, and will aim to use them more often.

Thanks a lot to Mary Whitehouse and the York Science Team.

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Thursday, 19 September 2013

"They don't learn anything at key stage 3 anyway"...

I was was reminded of this quote by the high flying key stage 3 coordinator at my last school during a conversation about the new national curriculum this week.

I rarely speak out during the heat of the moment, preferring to swallow my disgust or horror at what people are saying. Mainly because I often say things I don't mean as I fail to express myself clearly during discussions. Many times I have regretted it.

At my previous school we had the most ridiculous key stage 3 scheme or work. Its main aim was for the students to have fun. I am not sure that is a great place to start when designing an entire curriculum. High expectations and clear progression would be my starting point.

It was dreadful and I remember discussing some of the issues around progression from easier to harder ideas and how the curriculum inhibited this.

"They don't learn anything at key stage 3 anyway", from the head of key stage 3 science. My, in my head, not out loud response: "it is your JOB to make sure they learn something at key stage three, not to put in place schemes that mark time".

How I regret not saying anything.

I think those that believe that their students do not pick up learning at key stage 3, need to consider two things: why teach them at key stage 3 at all? Why will it be any different at key stage 4?

The last time I heard this high flying key stage 3 coordinator was a deputy head. I hope his attitude has changed some what.

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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Variety is the spice of life... /Exit tickets 2

I have written before about exit tickets. I have been using them once per week for my GCSE classes. the current year 11 took to them well, and the current Year 10 have been happy to do them too.

I find it very useful. While I mark them formatively, I do record a brief mark I think they would get into my mark book and through last year I noticed an increase in the scores that I was awarding. More than that though it helps the students to consolidate disjointed ideas within a topic. And I learn a lot about where the students are going wrong with ideas and exam technique.

These are my resources for OCR Gateway:


However, despite this success, I am concerned that overkill with exit tickets will damped their positive effect if students get bored with them. I fear this because I want to introduce them to my department as a positive activity.

How else can I present 6 mark style questions without calling them such? I don't want to have to mark them out of six and I don't want student to fear them on the exam paper making them a big mental block. Not much to ask?

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Location:Rudgleigh Ave,Bristol,United Kingdom

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Destroy Enrichment

During the summer Rachel Jones challenged me and Karen DW to try and be more creative by setting up a 'destroy' homework. Please do look at her ideas and work here: http://createinnovateexplore.com/learning/destroy-homework/

Karen and I both agreed that we could do famous scientists related to our topics.

I did think that I would set this as the first homework of the year for Year 10 to introduce them to some of the scientists they would come in contact with during their GCSEs. However, in my school we have to teach Saturdays, so last Saturday I decided to set this activity as work for year 10 to do during the morning session instead.

To introduce the topic I showed them a video of Rankin's 'destroy' project for Youth Music to give the students the idea. http://www.youthmusic.org.uk/rankin/home/ Then I showed the students some images I found by searching on google, such as this image of Kylie.

The first thing the student did was research a famous scientist. One from a list or one of their own. I offered a concept map containing a list of who, what, where, when, why, how, questions on it to help structure ideas and condense them from Wikipedia!

The students printed images they found on the Internet that they could cut up later and destroy.

The students has access to printable transparencies, coloured sugar paper, plain paper (A2/3/4), pencils, felt pens, foil, string, cotton wool, glue and scissors. The printer is a colour photocopier, so they could use colour.

The students had about two hours to create the images you see above and below. Some didn't finish and have taken them home to complete.

The students were asking why science lessons were not like this all the time!

Overall, a great experience. I would reccomend this as a way of creating images and posters that tell you something, but do not involve much writing. The students did learn about the scientist and enjoyed themselves too.

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