National Curriculum reform: KS3 Science

7th February 2013 at 18:03
  • The proposed curriculum for science states:
    "They (the students) should build up an extended specialist vocabulary."
    Scientific terms are important to construct understanding of scientific processes as well as communicating scientific ideas. Learners need a rich and accurate scientific vocabulary to achieve these high skills, but a scientific vocabulary needs to be developed whilst establishing strong associations with actual scientific processes and skills. Learning scientific words by heart and knowing their spelling will not be enough to ensure a sound understanding of science. I believe the proposed reforms emphasise the former though, as an extended specialist vocabulary can only be developed through understanding.
  • The emphasis on literacy appears again in other parts of the proposal:
    "They must be assisted in making their thinking clear, both to themselves and others, and teachers should ensure that pupils build secure foundations by using discussion to probe and remedy their misconceptions."
    Using discussions in science lessons is a really useful strategy to develop and refine scientific ideas, as well as to assist learners in considering other people's ideas and bias. Peer feedback and co-construction of learning can be fostered by well-planned discussion sessions. Ensuring discussions around important scientific issues is an exciting area to develop and use in the classroom with the new science curriculum, though many teachers already incorporate class discussions very effectively in their lessons.
  • The importance of numeracy is being highlighted:
    "They should also apply their mathematical knowledge to their understanding of science"
    More complex concepts, calculations and equations are introduced earlier on in the proposed national curriculum, such as calculations in "processes that cause change" like "rates of change measured in kW" and "audit calculations using measures of change in the energy associated with elastic deformation, moving andor vibrating objects, heating materials, and chemical changes involving fuels".
  • In general, the whole proposed programme of studies is a lot more prescriptive and detailed than the current NC and the content required to be covered is much more.

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