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Q&A session with course educator

Q&A session with course educators
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LOUISE HERBERT: Hello and welcome to the question and answer session for curriculum design for secondary school science. We’ve got a couple of questions to deal with today. First one’s from Emily, who wants to know about science media engagements with students that are not interested in it. There isn’t a quick fix to this, unfortunately, but I would say there are a few tips that might help you along the way. First of all, keep it relevant to what you’re doing. Don’t try and shoehorn science media consumption into a lesson where it’s not related to the content of that lesson.
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Unless it’s a really big news story that you think actually students would be interested in, for example, the Mars Rover landing or something like that. Try and put it into a lesson where it’s relevant, and then build on it and use it in other ways in the lesson. So you’re not just reading an article or watching a video, you’re relating it to what you’re doing in the lesson. Second thing is keep it appropriate. Choose something that’s the right level for the students that you’ve got, while still maintaining some challenge, giving them something to get their teeth into, so it’s not too dumbed down.
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I would look for shortish video clips that explain it at an appropriate level, or actually look for websites which put it for students of that sort of age. There are plenty out there where students are their main audience and their main target audience. So look for one of those. Third and last one is sell it a little bit. You give the impression that it’s useful and that it’s interesting, and put that over in the way you explain it to students. Because they will– a lot of students will take their cue from you on whether you’re looking like you think it’s interesting and engaging as a concept. I think not everyone will buy into it, not everyone will be interested.
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But like anything else in science, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it. Because a lot of students are going to find it interesting and are going to find it really useful to build that science capital they may not have in other areas of their life. The second question is from Aparna, who asked about how you build opportunities through years of the curriculum and allow consolidation of ideas within those years. This is something that we mentioned when we were talking about the PCK framework in the earlier part of the course. What you really need to do is make sure that, at all points the curriculum, you’re clear on three main things. First of all, what are we building on?
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Where do students start looking at this idea? What is it based on? And you may use a variety of ways of bringing this into your new lesson, by using models and having a look and evaluating models you’ve already used, looking at explanations you’ve already come across or definitions of words that you might come across, and sometimes looking at applications of what you’ve done in the past. Be really clear on what you’re coming from, and that might be Key Stage 2. It might be Key Stage 3 moving into Key Stage 4. But as long as teachers are really clear about that, and that is conveyed to students, I think that’s a really important step in what you’re doing.
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The second thing is be really clear on what is new now, and think about very clearly making that explicit to students in explanations, building it up carefully, showing them what you mean, and also making sure that your assessment actually is assessing the new thing that you’re doing, as well as any underlying concepts. Sometimes we can match an activity to an assessment without it actually being the thing you’re building on in this particular key stage. And the final thing is, probably for teachers, where are we going next with this idea? So having that PCK framework from those different areas is actually going to allow you to have that overview and build it in your curriculum.
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In that, you might want to use that PCK in discussions with teachers. It can be really difficult when you start off teaching a new qualification, for example, to see how that overview comes together. And it makes it really quite an uncomfortable process, starting something new, like a new GCSE. If you make sure that you are building a team for all teachers, non-specialists, new teachers to your department, everyone will have that really good overview. And it may well be really important to choose the topic of your PCK carefully. For example, a topic like mixtures goes through nearly all the key stages that students will go through in school.
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They will start off with a particle model and a definition of mixtures, move on to looking at different types of mixtures and separating them out, but then they will also be building on that at GCSE level when they’re looking at things like crude oil and water. Bringing those ideas in, and being clear that it’s an application of an idea you’ve already come across, will really make it explicit for students and teachers and allow it to be consolidated in a clearer and more defined fashion. OK, thank you very much. I hope you’ve enjoyed the course, and good luck with your journey designing your new curriculum.

On all courses from STEM Learning we provide a question and answer (Q&A) session. This is your opportunity to discuss your understanding of the course content, ask a question about your teaching context or explore an issue in more detail.

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Curriculum Design for Secondary School Science

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