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Skip to 0 minutes and 0 seconds We can be very constrained for time in terms of what we need to get through in the lessons. So what we tend to do is rather than doing an entire write up with your aim, your prediction results and everything that will break it up to look at one specific aspect of the practical. For instance with you making salts, you might spend the time previously having talked about neutralization and acid and alkali. And that can be your starter, but then I’m looking for the rest of the lesson, the method, actually carrying out the practical, getting them to write it up.

Skip to 0 minutes and 33 seconds Maybe peer mark it, so that they can improve it and really discussing about the reasons for each step and the necessity for each step. And then, if you have time at the end of the lesson or the next lesson, you can talk about how you might alter that method. And so pupils really get a good sense of how to write an excellent method, ideally, reproducible that somebody else could follow. And that’s one of the hardest things, I think, children struggle with, to do because they will say, “well I know what I did, you saw what I did”.

Skip to 1 minute and 8 seconds Yes, but, if I were to give it to my nine year old, would he be able to follow it and get the same thing that you did? And that’s really the key is for them to write a method that anybody else could follow. Another example would be with the rate of reaction. People tend to struggle with understanding that you can have a line of best fit that’s a curve rather than a straight line. So rather than them focusing then on the method, we’ll maybe gather results through a demonstration collectively as a class, and then spend more of the lesson looking at drawing the graph.

Skip to 1 minute and 36 seconds Showing the lines of best fit, comparing those lines of best fit, identifying anomalous results, and really what is the graph telling us in terms of the reaction, rather than looking at the method.

Teacher's example: learning outcomes for chemistry practical work

In the previous step you suggested different learning outcomes for the same practical. In this video Lisa shares her approach to using lesson time to focus on one or two specific aspects of a practical experiment and the scientific process.

Lisa also suggested the way that these learning outcomes can be assessed through peer-assessment or with a familiar success criteria.

Highlighting the maths skills involved around practical activities can support students with gaining practice in graphs and rearranging equations.


We’ve looked at copper sulfate crystals. What other practicals might you adapt, for example by making them smaller scale, to enable your students to focus on a specific learning outcome?

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Practical Science: Chemistry

National STEM Learning Centre