Skip to 0 minutes and 4 secondsWelcome to the Teaching Practical Science programme and this course focusing on the biology curriculum for 14-16 year olds. I’m Gill Gunnill and I’m the Biology Professional Development Leader at the National STEM Learning Centre. This course is designed for teachers of biology, supporting you to develop your practice in improving student learning through practical work.

Skip to 0 minutes and 28 secondsWe will cover three core topics: enzymes, microbiology and microscopy. Through examples from these topics you’ll explore approaches to teaching the subject based upon sound pedagogy and share your experience in the classroom with others. This week we are going to discuss the importance of learning outcomes and sharing success criteria. Biology practicals can be quite long from beginning to end. How often have your students just got a full set of results and then the bell goes. You’ve had no time to access the learning against the learning outcomes and you ask the students to write it up for homework. Is there a way we could organise practicals for a better or wider range of outcomes.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 secondsWe start with enzyme practicals and consider how the learning outcomes you are focussing on will affect the way you plan and deliver the lesson. So, is there more to biology practical work than looking at onion cells?

Is there more to biology practical work than onion cells?

From Galen’s anatomical discoveries nearly two thousand years ago, to William Harvey’s discovery of double circulation, to the mapping and sequencing of the human genome… Experimentation in biology has led to huge leaps forward in our knowledge and the impact that these developments can have on our everyday lives.

Practical activities allow our students to ask their own questions, find out the answers themselves, consolidate scientific concepts and develop transferable investigative skills.

This course is designed for teachers of biology, supporting you to develop your practice in improving student learning through practical work. Through examples from selected topics you’ll explore approaches to teaching the subject based upon sound pedagogy and share your experience in the classroom with others.

If you would like to join in with the practical work, you can download the equipment list (PDF).

This week

This week we are looking at how we assess the effectiveness of practical work in biology. We will be focusing on how practical work can be adapted to achieve different learning outcomes.

The activities this week will support you to:

  • Vary the range of learning objectives in practical work
  • Plan practical activities to allow students to achieve the learning objectives
  • Reflect on the effectiveness of practical activities

Course support

The course is led by Gill Gunnill, Professional Development Leader, and Karen Hornby, Science Specialist, from the National STEM Learning Centre.

Gill and Karen will be on hand between 6 May - 31 May 2019 to support each of the three weeks from the course start date. At the end of the course there is also a Question and Answer (Q&A) session with Gill. Post your outstanding questions by 5pm (BST) on 4 June 2019 to step 3.12.

Discuss

Is there more to biology practical work than looking at onion cells? For our first discussion, say hello and share what you think is the purpose of practical work in biology.

Task

When you complete a step on the course, click ‘Mark as Complete’ at the bottom right. This helps you keep track of your progress. Mark over 90% of the course steps complete and you’ll be eligible for a Certificate of Achievement when you Upgrade.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Practical Science: Biology

National STEM Learning Centre