Saturday, June 8, 2013

outstanding science teaching

Its been a long time since I wrote a blog post, but sometimes it takes a little encouragement and a tricky issue. It has been a round of observations at school looking at the quality of teaching and learning, and whilst I am happy with how mine went, I could not say the same for the whole department. But how did this come about?  I work with very talented and hard working teachers who I have seen being brilliant lots of times but this was not reflected in their observations this week.

We came together on Tuesday afternoon in after school CPD session and looked at the Ofsted subject specific guidance for science. This started a lively debate amongst colleagues, about what makes an outstanding science lesson or even a good one. For me the following bullet point stood out and it was difficult to focus on anything else.

  • Teachers expect pupils to operate as scientists, engaging fully in practical work using science skills, knowledge and understanding to inform their work.
I could not shake this idea out of my head and whilst cycling home I thought about a similar exercise I had done at the National Science Learning Centre led by Ian Richardson (HMI retired). I got home and looked at my notes and had one of those rare moments of I am onto something here. I shared my notes and summary with my colleges and gave them time to digest. Then out of nowhere another gem came tumbling out of twitter. Thanks @alomshaha (who also encouraged me to blog this point).

It felt to me that science lessons had become diluted, how different were they from say geography lessons or English lessons. I spoke to a colleague and he told me I was being ridiculous of course it was a science lesson the content would tell you. But I argued its the framing that makes us different. We had lost our identity as a faculty we were just teaching 'a' subject and ticking all the boxes that make good to outstanding lessons and we were generic. 

Make science our core, have students leave our class having had a unique experience and one that gives them a real learning. This has been divisive idea,  but I am sure that to become an outstanding department we have to be scientists and teach people to be scientists.  So what did Ian Richardson say he would like to see in class:

    • Active learning
    • Expressing views
    • Gathering data
    • Analysing data
    • Displaying data
    • Evaluating evidence
    • Forming hypotheses 
    • Carrying out procedures
    • Research
    • Discussion
    • Presentation
    • Evaluation for improvement
    • Copying notes
    • Unnecessary illustrations
    • Listening only to teacher
    • Rote learning
Now the challenge is to make science visible in the classroom, its what we can hang all our pedgological  skills  on and deliver outstanding lessons togive the young people an education that is not bland but full of wonder.  Now to write a scheme of work!

1 comment:

  1. Greg,

    Great to see that Ian's words have proved useful. He has also made a video for us on Effective Practical Work in the Classroom. Here is the url

    This also ties in closely with @alomshaha video.