A 5-year plan with built-in progression in ideas and skills has the potential both to better prepare students for demanding new GCSE assessment criteria and to create more space in the over-stuffed curriculum for meaningful learning to prepare students for life.
The inputs in this theme aim to answer questions like: How does a 5 year curriculum work in practice? How do you develop progression in Working Scientifically? How do you avoid repetition and boredom? Can you make a thematic curriculum linking STEM and non-STEM subjects?
Presentation slides and handouts
How to prevent “What did we do Last lesson?” Syndrome
We found that students were not recalling content from previous lessons. With the linear courses over 5 years, then chances for repeated delivery are minimal. How to improve recall and impress upon students the need to refer back frequently to “old” content?
We have instituted a system called “Fish – Dog – Elephant”. At the start of each lesson, the opening task is 3 questions from the board. “Fish” relates to the previous session or, if the first lesson in a series, a very low level question on the new topic (e.g. an easy KS2 or 3 question). “Dog” requires medium term recall e.g. from the last topic or similar. “Elephant” is from the previous year or a very unrelated topic. Questions can be either content or skills based.
It is too soon to assess impact as we have only been using the system this academic year but early signs are promising. Anecdotally, students are realising that anything they learn can be asked about at any time later.
There and back again: lessons learned from teaching mastery
How does a 5 year curriculum work in practice? Being among the first UK schools to really think about mastery in science, we encountered problems that are unique to a mastery-based curriculum and we have had to devise or own solutions.
At the heart of any curriculum is assessment and we had to continuously review our curriculum offering. So we used project management techniques from business as a framework. I will use this to illustrated the logistical nature of curriculum implementation.
Updating WIKID for the KS3 Science Syllabus
When I arrived at Oakfield, the KS3 Science scheme needed updating. I decided that WIKID offered the best option because it had a fresh approach. Since September 2009 we used WIKID as the basis for our teaching. We have adapted it to suit our needs and found it to be an excellent motivational tool. At the beginning of Y7 many pupils say they do not like science but after doing the Forensics topic nearly all say they like science. The progress the students make throughout KS3 is very good too, though it is better in Y7.
With the advent of the new KS3 curriculum I don’t want to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ so we are looking to improve our version of WIKID for Year 7 & 8 to bring it in line with the coming ‘AQA 5 Year Plan’. This will involve: manageable/sustainable use of the mastering science resources; embedding ENGAGE topics into the curriculum where possible; using colour tabs to highlight progress and ‘next steps’ for key skills; and ensuring students see the relevance of the Science they are studying by using real-world examples wherever possible.