Students can usually recall knowledge – what’s in their textbook. But nowadays, examiners deliberately set questions in situations that students have never seen to see if they can apply knowledge. As teachers know, that is something most students struggle with. School reports sometimes say: ‘to improve, [name] needs to apply her knowledge better’. But is that what separates more ‘able’ students? Or can we teach all students to apply?
Applying means being able to use one or more concept in a specific situation. It goes beyond recall, and the reasoning involves two stages. First the student must first deduce what previously learned concept is relevant to the situation and second, must determine the best way to manipulate this knowledge to the specific context.
We believe you can teach the thinking processes involved in applying. Essentially, we break down what more expert students do and then give students instruction and practice. For Apply, we have adapted the problem solving process popularised by mathematician George Polya.
>>Teach apply:Practice Books
- Detect: Work out what you need to do to answer the question
- Recall: Bring to mind what you already know about the concept. Showing it visually helps the thinking process
- Solve: Go from what you know to the answer, step by step
These steps are generic, and by themselves too vague to be helpful. So our approach to teaching the thinking strategy is to use the 3-steps wit all 25 concepts from the first year of the Blueprint plan.
Volume 1 guides students through 54 different problem types, based on concepts taught at the beginning of secondary science. Through these, students will master the concepts and be ideally prepared for future learning.
Research shows that practice is not enough. Students learn better when they’re explained the strategy and steps to a solution. Each spread in this book starts with a detailed ’worked example’. It’s a 3-step approach to solving any problem:
‘Your turn’ practice
‘Watch out’ practice
‘Mixed up problems’ practice
The test of apply is: can you look at an unfamiliar question and recognise the problem type without clues? Like in an exam. To give students practice doing this, there’s a ‘mixed up problems’ section at the end of each chapter.