Friday, 26 June 2015

Do the DfE care?

After the department for education posted ANOTHER dreadful version of the GCSE science subject content I am left feeling even more bereft than previously.

Do they care about what we teach? Does anyone there understand anything about science? Does anyone there have the passion to get science education in England 'right'? 

At the moment it really doesn't feel like that. 

Let's face it they have made too many changes in too short a time frame and teachers are left pushing round pegs into square holes and hoping ofsted don't notice. But even if the curriculum that has been decided on is quite a distance from perfect it is a massive insult that they couldn't even get the science in it right. 

More care and attention required.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Improving and Organising my A-level teaching

My aim for A-level this year is to make sure that students are working and learning the basics right from the start.

A few years ago I had a conversation with a great teacher at the school I worked in and I told him how it was my opinion that to 'get' A-level physics students had to first know all the individual pieces of information, but that would only get you so far, an E or a D. To get a higher students have to apply their knowledge, which requires lots of practice.

So next academic year I want to make sure that I scaffold my students from the start to learn the key knowledge they need to start the journey through A-level physics. With this they can hopefully recall it quickly to be able to answer questions. I know that this will only get them so far, application and creativity are required to make the journey up through the grades, but it should help build confidence and get them working and in good habits.

Firstly key words, I have a quizlet list of key words for them to learn on the topic of materials: And I have made longer lists with just the words for them to do themselves (I will check what they have written).

Secondly checking over their class notes. I have been thinking about this since pedagoo south west, and want my students to write Cornell Notes so that they can review them by writing questions and summarising. I think the will take time to practice, but I hope using this structure will mean that it is more obvious on how to actively review notes.

I want to make sure that the homework/prep that I set is accessible and covers all the basic information they need to answer exam questions. I have made some summary knowledge question sheets for students to do. I hope to give these out when the students get to the end of the section in the specification. This means that even if they can't do the exam questions from the start (and many can't as they are not used to dealing with many pieces of information at once) they can still begin picking up pieces of information that they will need later.

I am also writing the time that I want students to spend on each homework task so that they get the idea that I want them to work for an hour after each lesson (four hours per week) and give the option for more. I hope to encourage them to organise when they will do their physics prep (and I will work with their timetables in what I set).

Again, in an effort to prompt my students to go over their work and revise it I want to set them regular tests. To do this I have been setting up quizzes in socrative that test basic knowledge like SOC #: 16472046. This would give automatic feedback and allow me to keep a record of their errors. It will also be easy to resit. I want to use scores in multiple choice quizzes that cover the basics to keep a record of who is really struggling to get to grips with the basics so that we can intervene. I have written the points at which I want to do them into my scheme of work to help me ensure I find the time and can give the students plenty of notice.

I am also using past papers to set up examination level socrative quizzes like SOC #: 16471038. This will then help give an idea as to how far the student has progressed from learning the basics to being able to answer exam questions.

There are a lot of people out there doing great work on A-level changes. Two brilliant examples are linked in the tweets below.

Their resources have loads of practice for skills that the students will need.

This site is very useful for resources for the core practicals: which I have to work on next.

Hopefully I can strike the right balance, using routines to promote working independently.

This is all done so far, so my next step is to work on the core practical requirements, ensuring that we map the skills that will be examined into the practical work we do. I also want to have mapped the mathematical requirements against the specification topics and resource the practicing of the relevant skills. Then do the same thing for the waves topic.

As an aside, I am using Trello to keep a note of the activities I am doing as part of this project. Which I am finding useful.