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Teaching Biology: Inspiring Students with Plant Science

Learn how to keep your biology students engaged by teaching practical science with plants. This course is ideal CPD for teachers.

Teaching Biology: Inspiring Students with Plant Science
  • Duration3 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours
  • LearnFree
  • Extra BenefitsFrom $69Find out more

Support the biology curriculum with plant science

Biology lessons provide opportunities to inspire students with practical examples of science. On this course, developed with specialists at Science & Plants for Schools (SAPS), you will learn how to use plants to teach biology and support secondary students’ learning.

You’ll improve your knowledge of plant science and learn how to incorporate it into the curriculum. You’ll be able to share examples of hinge-point questions to address student misconceptions. You’ll also explore how to help your students apply what they’ve learnt to new contexts and increase their engagement in the classroom.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsALEX JENKIN: How would you answer the question, is an apple alive? Teaching, using plants, can help students to make connections across the biology curriculum, to see the bigger picture, and develop the comprehensive knowledge and understanding that biologists require to succeed.

Skip to 0 minutes and 22 secondsBEVERLEY GOODGER: Scientific research using plants has led to an increased understanding of key biological processes that are fundamental to the survival of all living organisms.

Skip to 0 minutes and 31 secondsALEX JENKIN: This research is right for you to bring into the classroom, as plants are an important source of living material when teaching biology. Easily sourced throughout the year, and cheap to grow and maintain in school labs.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsBEVERLEY GOODGER: As a teacher, your knowledge of plant science will allow you to bring novel and inspiring contexts into your classroom to engage your students and provide increased opportunities for your students to develop their practical skills.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 secondsALEX JENKIN: This course will increase your awareness of how and why plants can be used to teach key biological principles. You will discover year-round, reliable, affordable, relevant, and engaging practicals, which illustrate the connections between processes that are fundamental to biology.

Skip to 1 minute and 11 secondsBEVERLEY GOODGER: These cross-curricular connections are key to helping students apply their understanding of biology to new problems.

Skip to 1 minute and 18 secondsALEX JENKIN: By the end of this course, you'll be able to identify areas of the biology curriculum where plant science can be used to challenge your students' misconceptions, deliver key concepts and novel contexts, and enrich the curriculum.

Skip to 1 minute and 32 secondsBEVERLEY GOODGER: Working with the course mentors and other teachers, you'll create a plant-rich curriculum that supports your students.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 secondsALEX JENKIN: Join us online to find out how teaching with plants can inspire your students across the biology curriculum.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    From 22 Jun 2020

    Plants as inspirational contexts

    • Welcome to the course

      Welcome to the course. To start off, we’d like you to consider which areas of your practice you would like to develop over the next three weeks.

    • Under pressure! Why plants can’t survive without osmosis

      This week we start by looking at the process of osmosis and introducing some of the key biological processes that are dependent upon the movement of water into and out of plant cells.

    • Beyond potato chips

      Here we explore three practicals which can support students understanding of osmosis.

    • Adding context

      In the last section of this week, we’ll explore sources of context for lesson planning.

  • Week 2

    From 29 Jun 2020

    Dealing with misconceptions in biology

    • Respiration and misconceptions

      This week is on respiration and how to support students to overcome misconceptions in biology. We start with an introduction to respiration and some common misconceptions.

    • Assessing misconceptions

      Having a good grasp of the misconceptions students are likely to have can help you plan meaningful formative assessment opportunities. You can use evidence of student learning to inform where to go next in your teaching.

    • Challenging misconceptions with practical work

      Here we consider how three practicals can provide evidence of student understanding about plant science. What questions will you ask your students?

    • Curriculum planning: addressing misconceptions

      How will you use the approaches developed this week to help you address misconceptions in other areas of the biology curriculum? Add to your lesson plan and reflect on your professional development so far in the course.

  • Week 3

    From 6 Jul 2020

    Making links

    • An introduction to stem cells in plants

      We start this week by developing subject knowledge on stem cells (a type of cell) in plants. Throughout this week, we encourage you to think about the connections being made across the biology and science curriculum.

    • Making connections

      Encouraging students to make links between topics allows them to gain greater understanding of universal biological processes.

    • Practicals to understand stem cells in plants

      In this section, we will look at three practical activities that will support your students understanding of stem cells in plants and enable them to make connections with other biology topics.

    • Planning for connections

      Now, update your lesson plan to incorporate activities to help students make links across the curriculum.

    • Reviewing your learning on this course

      We finish the course by reflecting on your professional development and planning your next steps. Take what you have learnt back to your classroom and your colleagues.

When would you like to start?

Most FutureLearn courses run multiple times. Every run of a course has a set start date but you can join it and work through it after it starts. Find out more

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Modify your scheme of work to incorporate a greater variety of contexts using plants.
  • Identify opportunities to challenge and address students' misconceptions in biology.
  • Explore the use of plants for teaching key biological principles.
  • Improve your subject knowledge in plant science.
  • Collaborate with peers, educators and mentors to share and critique ideas for teaching practical science.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed as professional development for science and biology teachers of 11-16 year olds. It will be useful to newly qualified (NQT), early career, returning, and non-specialist teachers, technicians, and teaching assistants (TA).

It’s recommended that teachers have access to a school laboratory to evaluate approaches to practical work during this course.

Who will you learn with?

I taught science for ten years and was Head of Science for three years, before becoming a subject specialist at the National STEM Learning Centre.

I am a biology teacher with over thirty years of teaching experience. I have been an ambassador for Science and Plants for Schools for nine years, working with them to develop practical resources.

I manage the Science and Plants for Schools project and have worked in roles supporting science education for eight years. I specialised in plant sciences in my undergraduate degree.

Who developed the course?

National STEM Learning Centre

The National STEM Learning Centre provides world-class professional development activities and resources to support the teaching of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

Science and Plants for Schools (SAPS)

Science and Plants for Schools (SAPS) is the leading provider of plant science teaching resources in the UK. We create opportunities for teachers and students to find out more about plants.

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