What teachers are presenting at Science Done Right 2019
1 year down, 4 to go! Starting a 5-Year Curriculum
Heather Turner, Sharnbrook Academy
Imagine the situation: a successful Upper School with expert teachers becomes a Secondary. Most staff have to teach year 7 and 8 for the first time. Meanwhile the GCSE goalposts move. A 5 year could be the answer: seamless transition from KS3 to KS4, no more repetition, and developing GCSE skills from year 7.
We began rolling out Blueprint. Successes include implementing diagnostic assessment and feedback, formative quizzes and feedback, contextualised and active learning. Challenges and opportunities include grading assessments, tracking progress, differentiation and persuading reluctant teachers.
Building resilience ready for KS4
Dr Karin Bratby, Hall Park Academy
At KS4, an increasing number of students fail to attempt questions that appeared unfamiliar, and fewer students can see the relevance of science in everyday life. Using Mastery Science in Y7 quickly showed a disparity between what students knew and what they could communicate in written form. Focussing on this initially built confidence. On both activate and diagnostic tests, students found that they could learn from mistakes and many misconceptions were dealt with. We also made time within ‘acquire tasks’ for students to bring in their own ideas and make them feel valued.
We recently tested Y7 and 8 on KS4 level 1 questions. Y7 scored on average 15-20% higher than Y8. Most noticeably, Y7 left no blanks whereas Y8 avoided the unfamiliar. Y7 students also understood which skills they needed to work on and could ask how to improve without prompting. They were also willing to question rather than being passive learners.
Introducing Science Mastery
Dr Liz Nourshagh, Lord Grey Academy
The KS3 curriculum at Lord Grey was not preparing students adequately for the new GCSE specifications. Students were successful in KS3 with most on target throughout Years 7 and 8. However, lessons were not always engaging, and students found GCSE very challenging – when they hit Year 9, few were on track to achieve their target.
We did not have the capacity to make big changes to KS3 whilst implementing the new GCSE specifications. When Complete Mastery was released, we decided to go ahead and have used the materials since September 2018.
There is now a real buzz in KS3 Science. Students and teachers find Mastery more engaging but also more challenging. We have, inevitably, had teething problems like teachers need to adapting the way they teach and developing summative assessments to provide tracking data. We intend to look at how some of the techniques can be applied with our lower achievers, scheduling modules of differing lengths and effective teacher CPD.
How Carrotgate has changed the way we teach
Tania Dytrych and Emma Hanby, Stantonbury International School
When GCSE examiners tested osmosis with carrots instead of potatoes, there was a social media storm. The new curriculum puts an increased emphasis on skills and application as opposed to knowledge and recall. We have therefore changed our approach to teaching so that the lessons focus more on Working Scientifically. Traditionally we taught lessons topic by topic, with Required Practicals taught in the relevant topic. Students could recall the experiment in that context, but not apply the understanding to new situations. Now we have split our curriculum time, with 50% Content and 50% Skills based lessons each week. This gives students more time to work like scientists.
This change has made an impact on our grades. Sudents are more confident to tackle skills and application questions. Previously our AO3 marks were 20% below average, but now are close to the national average. Further work is needed to develop SoW and curriculum models to ensure AO2 also increases at a comparable rate.
What’s the point of Key Stage 3 Science?
Rachel Carrington, Impington Village College
As a Science department, we were looking for an intelligent approach to teaching Key Stage 3 students. Our curriculum had been tinkered with but no-one had thought about the bigger picture of how it fitted into a world of more challenging Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4.
We have overhauled our 10 units of work to reflect the ‘big ideas’, and used it as an opportunity to make our curriculum more inclusive and unbiased about gender, as well as streamlining our assessment model. We used the KNOW, APPLY, EXTEND approach from the KS3 Syllabus to update and build new units of work whilst ensuring each unit told a coherent story. We are still embedding the explicit teaching of application skills.
We now have fewer students saying ‘I haven’t been taught this’ and demonstrating more resilience. We are having a few quality assurance issues with the units. The biggest challenge is trying to ensure clarity of progression and embedding retrieval practice across the board.
Personalised Assessment and Marking Made Easy
Keith Stansbie, Darwen Aldridge Community Academy
Are textbooks any good? Do they do what you want them to? For me, the answer is no. We spend a lot of money on books that do not provide work and assessment opportunities for our students. So I decided to write my own.
The process of writing the “book” led to me developing a way to produce individualised sheets that students had to work on alone and assess themselves. Having to complete more of the tasks themselves led to more independent learners who could guide others. Also having students assess their own and others work led to an appreciation of “what went wrong”, leaving me to address the “hardcore” issues only. Going forward, I want to share this resource and develop it across other schools, to iron out the bugs and find out new ways to use it.
Looking to the past to present the future
Dr Andy Markwick, Consultant
Working with the HoD, I selected six big ideas and linked these to topics from the curriculum. Next I developed themes, such as Medicine, Sports, Agriculture and Food, Art, Climate change, Transport, Space, Ecology and Power stations.
Then I populated the themes with engaging activities and investigations, starting with Agriculture and Food and Sport. I’m working on ensuring that the KS4 thematic curriculum links well with the KS3 Mastery curriculum.