This is a pre-pilot project that it is hoped will generate outcomes that can form a pilot. Based on a background of didactic transposition and CoRes and PaP-eRs, groups of teachers in schools will use an initial outline of an approach to see if it can efficiently lead to targeted CPD. They will be free to change the approach as they see fit to make it work. Initially a topic and age range will need to be identified and how this is done will also be part of the feedback which may then lead to a more helpful method.
On the ground this will initially look like:Schools will be given a small whiteboard. Having somehow decided the topic and age range to be examined, the curriculum statements will be presented, The first step is to decide whether these are complete or if further learning outcomes should be added. The next step is to put the statements (knowledge to be taught) in order. There may be more than one preferred order, this isn’t a problem, but not having any prefered orders is. Having decided an order the group needs to decide on teaching approaches and assessment methods, be these formative or summative. At which point the group should know what it’s teaching, how it’s teachinig it and how to measure success. The aim is not to recreate the written Scheme of Work, but to demonstrate how the wider Scheme of Work (including what is in people’s heads) is understood. On the whiteboard the group will be filling in the spaces that correspond to teaching approaches and assessment for particular statements. This could be a note on a post-it, or just a series of ticks. Or red and green post-it’s to show bad and good elements. What we want to identify are holes and elements flagged up as problems with red post-its for instance. Then, with help from a PNC if necessary, we find a solution to the problem and implement it. This might be through a workshop, circulation of a paper, considering a new idea, sending someone on CPD etc. Afterwards the whiteboard is photographed and uploaded to Talkphysics with problem, solution and implementation noted. Continued application will lead to a document that shows analysis of the SoW, development of staff and improvements in teaching.
Should the group be able to demonstrate mastery of this initial stage with no problems they can move on to looks at problems that students have in terns of misconceptions as well as other areas like links to maths, practical issues may also be identified although it is unlikely these will lead to targeted CPD. There are also sequencing issues with what is held back by the teacher, or model limitations and the reasons why a particlur curriculum statement should be taught. Finally there are issues to do with transposition; an understanding of scholarly knowledge and the way that the chosen approach is presenting or possibly misrepresenting the “real” physics.
At any point after the initial stage the “Table” can be viewed from a number of different perspectives, for instance gender balance, or careers. Looking at what has been outlined and discussing whether it treats gender fairly.
In terms of time this should be light touch, after an initial discussion deciding sequence, the elements can be completed individually as and when appropriate. The group may then need to come together to decide on a problem area to target, although if an individual has identified an area they feel they need support in this may not be necessary.
The main things to focus on are quality of discussion and decision making during the activity and to then plan targeted CPD provision and implement it.
- Meet with the HoD alone. Explain the project, provide access to background material. It needs to be made clear of what we will want from staff – a list of qualifications and experience for example. Take whiteboard and magnetic labels and post-its and leave this with the school. Demonstrate talkphysics, get the HoD to register if they have not done so already, explain feedback mechanism (a page on a talkphysics group being used – both the HoD and PNC will need admin rights for the group). Having done this the HoD will be left to consider the idea.
- Assuming the HoD is happy to continue a meeting will be scheduled with the rest of the group of teachers.
- Meeting with group/physics department. Explain to the group as in 1 above. Demonstrate the approach for a particular topic. Answer any questions. Leave group to decide.
- Assuming the group is happy to proceed, much of the contact will now be via talkphysics and e-mail. Collect staff qualification and experience details.
- The cycle is going to be identifying a problem, finding a solution and implementing and document this. These 3 parts will probably take a week each. Hence we envisage the cycle being performed 6-12 times a year. Hence, a fortnight after starting there should be a contact of some sort. If a problem has been identified the HoD may have been able to solve it, if not they should be contacting the PNC. The PNC has access to a wide range of resources and a lot of experience via the TNET e-mail list that links all the PNCs.
- As soon as a topic and age range are identified a table can be constructed (see post above) with prompts.
- It may be that the HoD identifies a problem that a face to face meeting would help solve, be that a workshop or one to one meeting. This would then be a good time to monitor progress.
- After the problem has been identified and solved this should be documented on a talkphysics group. A picture of the whiteboard will represent the discussion, a short description of the problem and it’s solution as well as details of implementation can be added in a short paragraph.
- The cycle can then be repeated.
- After a number of cycles, perhaps 6, the PNC returns to the school and draws conclusions from the experiences of the group.
A – rural Wales. Small. state. One or two physics qualified staff. One attends CPD regular, and is experienced.
B – urban Wales. Medium sized, state. At least one qualified staff member. Regular communicator with occassional attendance at CPD events.
C – urban, London. Large independent. Many qualified staff, keen to help surrounding schools. They will run the approach internally and then try it with schools attending the CPD they run.
D – rural Wales. Small, independent. Three qualified staff, very experienced.
The tables approach in schools
As outlined in the introduction above, these are the instructions for schools:
- Select a topic and age range to investigate. Note the reason(s) for this choice.
- As soon as this choice is finalised inform the PNC, possibly by posting this on the talkphysics page.
- Write or print out the curriculum statement(s) that go with this choice.
- If the curriculum statements are too broad a first stage for the group will be to break these down into more focused statements. If this is problematic then statements can be used from elsewhere, perhaps provided by the PNC or taken from an older curriculum or that from another country.
- Having assembled statements – knowledge to be taught – the group needs to meet and decide a starting point. The important point is that there is a reason behind this choice. While the group may be split, unless there are enough people in a group to be able to separate out into smaller groups, there needs to be one starting point. Given the nature of the task and the format then it shouldn’t matter too much if there is another starting point suggested. The sequence can be re-arranged at the end.
- After deciding the starting point the sequence in which the statements should be taught is considered next. Again the reasons for decisions should be the focus rather than the end product. If no sequence is forthcoming then this is clearly a problem – so suggested sequences can be sought from the PNC, and then decisions made and solutions implemented.
- Having decided on a sequence (what are we teaching?/knowledge to be taught) the statements now become the column headings. There may be an opportunity here to see if anyone in the group clearly feels a lack of understanding of the physics behind the statements but this is also dealt with later. However, teachers with little physics subject knowledge may feel better served if their problem is dealt with now, and we have resources in place for this (SPT).
- The next step is to add row heading of teaching approaches and assessment, the group can now complete these. Previous steps have needed the group to be assembled but now this isn’t necessary. The table could be completed by ticking the relevant boxes to show that individual members have a teaching approach and assessment method for that statement, or they could put red and green post-it notes on the element, they could tick a red or green post-it, or they could write notes on the board or on a post-it etc. The aim here is to identify holes, do we know what we’re teaching? If we know that, do we know how we’re teaching it? How do we monitor learning? At a basic level these are the important questions, at this stage quality of the approaches is not the issue. Assembling the table to this point should have taken maybe 10-20 minutes of group time with extra inputs over the course of a week)
- If a problem area has now been highlighted the HoD should inform the PNC who may be able to suggest solutions or at least be looking into posibilities. The groups should be assembled and the problem identified, solutions suggested and if possible decided upon. Completing the table and identifying the problem is a further week of time.
- The HoD implements the solution. Discussion with the rest of the group is desirable but not essential, if a problem and solution have both been identified then put them into practice and move on, rather than spending more time in discussion. It may create a sense of completion if the group meets again briefly to discuss the solution and implementation. They may find the solution involves CPD for a group member, further study, introduction of a new idea into the SoW etc.
- Documentation now needs to take place. A picture of the table should be posted on a group page on talkphysics, the problem noted along with the solution and details of how this was implemented. Implementation and documentation should take a further week.
There needs to be time for the HoD to consider whether or not to take part and the same is true for the other members of staff. Given time constraints this set up period may take around a month per school from the time they are first approached. They then need to run the cycle a number of times. Each cycle will take a further month, three cycles will be needed to get any sort of relevant feedback. If after six cycles there has been no face to face contact (a PNC running a workshop for example) then they should arrange to meet the group to see how things are progressing.
- There should be a record of problems identified, solutions and implementation.
- Some idea of time spent possibly with a survey or from discussion afterwards.
- An idea of changes and improvements.
- A rough idea of why certain topics and age ranges were chosen.
- Does the group think that this has helped them target CPD, and has this made it more likely that solutions presented by the PNC are implemented in the SoW?
- Does the school make any difference, in terms of CPD provision, staff experience or qualifications, leadership etc?
- Do the tables we’ve constructed help the PNC? Are they too specific, not specific enough?
- An estimate of the time spent on dealing with schools by the PNC.
What to take forward
Some notes on how to identify a topic and age range might be useful, if this just isn’t obvious. A set of instructions for the pilot phase is needed as this has to be more tightly focussed on actions and results. There also has to be some way of recording the interaction between PNC and school. This will probably be via talkphysics, as e-mail raises issue of privacy. Whether the picture of the table is a valid representation of the discussion also needs to be considered. So we should end up with a set of instructions for identifyiing a topic and age range, how to implement the tables, plus a way of recording the activity and a way of assessing the impact – could this be how many suggestions made it into the SoW?
The book that outlines the thinking behind the CoRes and PaP-eRs idea is:
Tim Brighouses booklet about what makes a successful school is here: http://www.rm.com/_RMVirtual/Media/Downloads/TimBrighouseBook.pdf
A paper that contains an explanation of didactic transposition is here: https://www.liu.se/utbildning/program/amneslarare-gy/student/termin-6/matematik-93ma51/dokument/1.543940/BoschM.andGascn2006Twentyfiveyearsofthedidactictransposition.pdf