The first week back in September is always a weird one for me. It brings with it new students, new seating plans and new challenges. There are many teachers who approach it with a ‘don’t smile until Christmas’ attitude but I think it’s a great opportunity to assess starting points. In science particularly, it’s important that students are able to work well in the lab. It is the knowledge of lab work that allows them to approach written assessments with confidence, if they have carried out a particular investigation they will find answering a question on it much easier.
Getting students to carry out an investigation allows me to determine their ability to interpret instructions, their resilience, their skill and their numerical and literacy skills.
Year 7 students usually start the school year looking petrified and it is impossible to not want to reassure them and start with tasks that will begin to build their confidence. However, the shock of being back at school can often leave us forgetting that it is a stressful time for students in other years as well. They are in new sets with new faces and are taught by people they don’t recognise.
With this in mind, following the obligatory safety in the lab lesson I will be getting students straight into an investigation. It’s the perfect time to get new classmates working together and for me it is much more insightful than a baseline test (although these are most definitely useful!).
Following the Pokemon craze this summer I will be using GCSE_science's Pokémon Go: catch a Pikachu https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/pokemon-go-catch-a-pikachu-11336078 activity.
It is a brilliant activity that will engage students and get them talking to each other about their scientific skills. It gives excellent opportunities to assess students’ numeracy skills and to observe their ability to work independently and creatively. For me, this will provide an essential starting point for which to pitch future investigations.
ScienceQueen is a lead learning practitioner for science who works at a school in Coventry.