TLC – Planning and Preparation

time to plan

Science Teachers On Tour – Development Twilight 3

For our third twilight we left the safety of Harwich for a CPD session at Manningtree High School. Thanks to John Knights for the invite and organising the event! Rob, a research scientist from the Royal Institution, took us through the importance of practicals and demos in science. He started with the question, “Why bother with demos?” Our students have probably seen any science demo we care to think of on Youtube where it has probably been done bigger and better than we can do in our classrooms. In fact, the Royal Institution have probably done it bigger and better on their Youtube channel:

Royal Institution Youtube channel

Rob argued that practicals and demos in the classroom are all about the live experience, similar to the difference between film and theatre.

When thinking about demos we suggested the following were important: visibility, questioning, timing, excitement, preparation in advance, practise the demo and good science.

Demos have to be interesting which can be achieved with the element of surprise or using everyday objects. Michael Faraday lectured at the Royal Institution on the chemistry of candles and perhaps people feel more comfortable talking about science with everyday objects. We saw this in the ‘Lighting a match with water demo’ that we watched and the presenter illustrated how it’s perhaps more interesting to make some mistakes, to appear as if you are figuring things out as you go along and to explain that you too are exploring what’s possible:

Lighting a match with water

Demos have to be appealing which means have fun with it yourself, make a small change to a well known demo or take the experiment further. Rob asked us to reflect on how we could add a twist to our current demos and gave us three examples: change mentoes and coke to mentoes and tonic water with black light; add glowsticks to the sides of bicycle pump rockets; and make a pumpkin levitate to demonstrate super-conductivity:

Levitating pumpkins

Demos need to be surprising. Show your students what they are expecting and then surprise them. Neil willingly volunteered to take part in the ‘Floating Water Demo’ which with the addition of some gauze to one of the jars not only illustrated how surface tension works but raised the idea of fair and unfair tests in science.

Demos are about performance. You have to choose your style and build a mood whether that be sombre and reflective or crazy, brainiac style science. Rob demonstrated this with film canisters, hangover tablets, Seana and two other volunteers.

Rob finished the session by reminding us that the ‘Ah moment’ doesn’t always come during the demo. This is often saved for the explanation that follows. There is a national Demo Day on 17th March:

British Science Week Demo Day

Rob referred us to  for health and safety resources and gave us this list of sites to explore:


TLC Development twilight 2

At our second twilight of the year, we focused on marking and differentiation.IMG_3423

Ignoring the cupcakes, we concentrate on sharing our marking.

We talked about a range of ways of speeding up our marking without losing the subject specific feedback or the student response:

marking slide

Some examples of our marking that we shared:

We explored a range of differentiation strategies:

differentiation slide

Martin and Brooke took away the Bloom’s targeted questions sheet and they have developed differentiated learning questions for loads of lessons and this is becoming a part of science faculty practice.


Adrian took away the learning grid approach and trialled this with his year 13 class:

learning grid

Here is the full powerpoint from our session:

Marking and differentiation

Our planning pairs work continues, where we meet once a fortnight to plan lessons together and share the plans and resources. Here are some of our great teaching and learning ideas from those planning sessions:

planning pairs great ideas autumn

Planning pairs great ideas

Thursday October 15th, 2015

zombie apocalypse
Are you ready for the zombie apocalypse? Science week 2015 is getting closer…

This half term has all been about planning together and sharing great ideas in science. We meet once a fortnight in pairs or threes to plan a lesson together and then share that lesson and resource with the rest of the team. Here’s the lesson plan we’re using:

Lesson plan template Science

We’ve focused on questioning, extended answers and science week so far and next half term we’ll be working on planning for: double lessons; analysing and commenting on data; and selecting and using equations.

Here is a summary of Phil Beadle’s chapter from ‘How to teach’ on teacher-led discussions and alternative approaches which supports our work on questioning and extended answers:

How to Teach – teacher-led discussions

And here are the extended answer cards shared at the teaching and learning briefing:

Extended answers cards

One of the ideas for extending answers was the use of concept cartoons and science have a huge bank of these in the shared area. Concept cartoons express different viewpoints, truths, half-truths and misconceptions as a way of starting a discussion and assessing students’ understanding of a concept. Here’s an example:

Acid rain

We also had our first Nanomeet as a department to share great ideas and teaching and learning approaches in science:

Here are the ideas we shared, now displayed on our WOW board:

  • Provide a model full of misconceptions that the students have to identify
  • Quiz Freeze Frame – students get themselves into groups of 1-4 to respond to multiple choice questions
  • Role play – journalist quizzes scientist regarding experiment
  • Headline plenary – write a newspaper headline summarising the main learning of the lesson
  • @candyanatomy – using sweets to help students remember
  • Creating a paper lab for genetic engineering
  • Skitch the force – use labelling features in Skitch app to show forces
  • Practical assessment  writing frame available in T: KS3 literacy
  • Progress pit stop
  • Codebreaker starter for keywords
  • Thunks to make students think and Gimme 5 to record responses
Science Department Open Evening
Follow the science department on twitter @hdhsscienceclub

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