I once had a class of pupils who struggled to cooperate with each other. My solution? I used the following activity to encourage them to communicate effectively.
First, I tell the class we will be going outside to the playground and split the pupils randomly into groups of six. The child standing at the back of the group – who I suspect is the least confident or engaged – becomes the leader.
Pupils work through four different tasks of “follow the leader”. They begin with one that involves as little communication as possible, and build up to using signals so that the groups are in sync and know where they are going.
In between each activity, the groups are mixed up, a new leader is appointed and time is provided to discuss how best to go about the new task.
We finish the lesson by discussing the importance of teamwork and the techniques we have learned for this.
Nicola Goscomb is a primary teacher at Denmead School in Middlesex
Asking students to describe what water molecules look like as they change from solid to liquid to gas phases usually results in a sea of blank faces. So I challenge students to use Lego to model molecular motion.
Divide the class into pairs and provide each pair with 10-15 Lego bricks of the same colour; each brick represents a molecule of water. Students then have 20 minutes to model the phase change of water from solid to liquid to gas. Each pair documents the changes with an iPad, using an app such as Frame Artist to create a digital artefact, with vocabulary and arrows to show where energy is lost or gained.
Creative pairing of students can produce some stellar products. One quiet pair included photos of themselves as dragons breathing fire to facilitate the melting of an ice cube.
Kelly O’Connor is a middle school science teacher in North Chicago, Illinois, US
A shot in
When exploring the topic of light and dark with my classes, I try to make the connection between science and its application in the real world.
In groups, pupils discuss the difference between day and night, and how it can be difficult to see things in the dark, particularly during the winter. This helps to develop their scientific vocabulary, reinforcing words such as “bright”, “dull” and “reflect”, as well as enquiry-based language such as “predict”.
Next, I tell the children about my friend, the keen golfer. He wants to play in the autumn months and needs our help to find out which colour ball can be seen best in the dark. The children take the golf balls outside and hide them in the darker areas of the playground, noting which colours are the easiest to find.
Back in class, the pupils work in their groups to agree on the brightest colours, then present their results in an appropriate manner. This helps to develop their collaborative group skills, as well as their scientific enquiry skills.
Sarah Williams is a primary teacher in Durham
To access resources for all three lessons, visit: bit.ly/LessonPlanner11September