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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds In terms of giving instructions, if it’s a very long practical where there’s lots and lots of instructions, I tend to try to model each step as we go through. So they will work in groups, but they will be doing it at the same time as me in real time. Another way that I like to get around things like that is the use of virtual experiments on the board. So, for example, testing a leaf for starch can be quite an involved experiment, particularly for year nines, when we tend to do it. So I’ll pop that on the boards. We’ll watch it through.

Skip to 0 minutes and 35 seconds And then as we’re doing the experiments, I’ll pause it and I’ll make sure that they can see their setup should be exactly like it is behind me on the board. So that way I’m not having to do it with them. I’m free to walk around and monitor what’s going on. But they’ve got that visual cue to make sure that they know what they’re doing because otherwise, I think, the instructions would just get lost because they can only hold on to maybe two or three points at a time.

Teacher perspective: different approaches to instruction

In the video above, Jenny explains her approach to using instructions in practical work with both written and visual guidance.

Using resources appropriately, this frees up Jenny to work with students individually or as groups.


Identify the staged approach that Jenny describes and compare to your own practice.

Think about a recent practical lesson and the approach you used to provide instructions. Outline this in the comments below.

Would you use different approaches to instruction for different age groups, or different types of practicals? What influences your decision?

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This video is from the free online course:

Managing the Practical Classroom in Secondary School Science

National STEM Learning Centre