There is always a tension between teaching for depth and breadth. In a ‘backwards design’ curriculum, the purpose of teaching is to equip students with the accomplishments and attitudes we want students them to leave school with, as well as the knowledge they need to pass the exams along the way. The way we teaching should reflect how students learn, what they bring to the classroom, and the demands of thinking scientifically.
The inputs in this theme aim to answer questions like: How do you make time for ‘Apply’ and ‘Extend’ in a crowded curriculum? How can you integrate contexts without sacrificing knowledge How can all students access a context-based curriculum which is complex and mathematical?
Presentation slides and handouts
Are we teaching our children to be knowledgeable or intelligent?
The department focus this year is to ensure science is relevant and interesting to our pupils. Knowing that ‘upd8’ had been useful in the past, I looked for inspiration and discovered Engage. Five hours later …. I was like a kid in a sweet shop! I was looking for resources through which the children could cover the necessary objects in a meaningful way. I wrote the scheme of work for the unit around three resources: Chocolate Money, Exterminate and Invasion.
My staff and classes responded incredibly well. Pupils were passionate about the issues covered and demonstrated excellent subject knowledge through their responses to the tasks. The resources from Engage enabled and encouraged the students to think; they had to earn their knowledge and apply it, rather than simply absorbing facts.
One teacher moved her practice from consistently good to outstanding using the resources- she is a convert! I was delighted to hear pupils from other groups discussing the ideas covered in the corridors and at lunch. A good number of pupils took it upon themselves to do further research about the issues. As a school we are working towards mastery for all. Engage is certainly helping.
Scientific enquiry skills through a problem-solving approach to raise attainment
This session will explore how a practical learning experience can by linked with Engage materials. It uses solar science educational resources so that students first gain an understanding of the idea of energy transfer, which they they apply using the ‘Solar Roadways’ activity.
Through this integration, students can gain both subject knowledge and working scientifically skills in a highly engaging experience.
The practical activities use a problem-solving and inquiry approach that values failure as part of the learning process, to help students develop engineering habits of mind, and broaden their science towards STEM, and give them more transferable skills.
What is the ‘real world’?
The question ‘When will I use this in the real world?’ is essential in planning any curriculum. Yet asking the big questions and linking scientific principles with everyday life can be challenging. We have found that a cross-curricular, student-led approach, which we reinforce with an ethos of ‘question everything’, has successfully piqued students’ interest.
We have used big scientific questions with Engage lessons, and incorporated questions and analogies from other subjects such as History, Business, Politics, English etc. We believe that this gets students to think critically about the value of what they learn through a scientific lens. However, this method is dependent on the teacher’s enthusiasm and their ability to maintain suspense and keep things fresh.
Overall, we have found that students are more engaged and have a stronger understanding of the fundamentals of the scientific method. As yet, academic results are inconsistent.