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    • #44526
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      I’ve been thinking about how much CPD is run, including our own. There’s a lot of telling teachers what to do and very little in the way of helping teachers find out what works for themselves. Even the books on formative assessment are poor in this regard. A bit more is needed than just try mini whiteboards. Some way of tracking your progress against other groups would be informative.

      Imagine that we have a scheme of work written like this:

      • An activity is described with learning objectives.
      • After the activity or activities you use formative assessment.
      • The formative assessment consists of 3 types of question: 1] Questions that test for understanding of the learning objectives just covered 2] Questions that test for misconceptions 3] Challenging questions that look at the next thing you intend to cover.
      • If students do a good job on 1s and have avoided 2s then you carry on with the plan. If they fell for a lot of 2s then you take remedial action. If they did well on 1s and 3s then you could probably skip the next item as they already seem to know it.
      • So each activity is connected to these formative questions, some of which are all class do face to face, others would be computer based.
      • The questions have to be carefully fitted to the learning objectives clearly stating what evidence they would take to show that students had mastered the objective or had misconceptions.

      I find this appealing because it still allows for individual activities to be broken down and reassembled. It allows sequences to be changed, and it allows for tools like CoRes to be used to analyse the SoW.


    • #44530
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      I think atoms might be a good starting point. While they are abstract, having some basic understanding of the idea of atoms is a prerequisite to teaching topics like sound. (When I analysed a syllabus sound was the least demanding topic so went at the start of our 14-16 course).

      As a starting point I downloaded something from a search: periodictable.rosendigital.com/staticfiles/reproducibles/Introducing_Lesson.pdf

      I note that the learning objectives are split into two parts but the first part has this:

      Essential Questions
      ○What is an element?
      ○What is an atom?
      ○What happens to an atom when its structure is changed?
      ○How do knowledge and understanding of elements impact different aspects of our lives?

      Surely we should be starting with “What is an atom?” before we move on to elements. But the question of what an atom is is a tricky one that depends on the level of use. We aren’t looking for a quantum mechanical understanding so perhaps the first objective might be better worded as:

      Define an atom.

      Which sounds a bit formal. Why do I prefer this to “describe an atom”? Well firstly I think that “describe” is too broad and secondly I think define makes it clear that we’re after something specific, and we’re saying what it is. It might be worded alternatively as “describe the Rutherford model of the atom” or “give the important characteristics of the Rutherford model of the atom”.

      The Conceptual Change website doesn’t give misconceptions associated with atoms: http://www.conceptualchange.org.uk/misconceptions.html

      But in this document: modeling.asu.edu/modeling/KindVanessaBarkerchem.pdf

      We find:

      Students who do not use particle ideas may use the bulk properties of substances instead.
      For example, the CLIS study (Brook et al 1984), includes this response in answer to a question concerning the change in temperature of a block of ice:-

      “As the temperature rises to -1°C the ice will melt causing the block of ice to get smaller” (p 57).

      And about car tyre pressure during a journey:-

      “When a car goes on a journey, the tyres start to warm up and this causes pressure”. (p 35)

      Brook et al call these “low-level macroscopic” answers, given by children who think of matter as continuous. Many children who appreciate that matter is particulate do not relinquish all their naive view, so ascribe bulk properties to particles themselves:-“[particles can] change their form [solid to liquid]; explode, burn, expand, change shape and colour, or shrink” (Happs 1980 p 9 – 14).
      Similar ideas were found by Griffiths and Preston (1992), whose small-scale study reports that about 50% of 18-year olds think water molecules in steam are larger than those in ice.
      This type of explanation seems to be an “intermediate” stage between full appreciation of the particulate nature of matter and naive ideas. Although some students may develop a scientific view, many people may not move from this intermediate stage.

      Which might suggest that the first learning objective should instead be something more like:

      Know that matter is particulate and not continuous.

      The activities we follow would then start by providing evidence of this. Those activities would then use the suggested questions to ascertain if the evidence had been interpreted appropriately.

    • #44556
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      Know that matter is particulate and not continuous.

      I can see two ways into this. The first is to go with a topic about scale. How big and small things are and head towards atoms by looking at what happens when we go to smaller and smaller scales. This might include some measurement and estimation, powers of ten, perhaps some activities with crystals. The second is to bring in classification, to cover the matter side, what matter is. This will give us solids, liquids and gases and so forth. But the problem with the latter is that it tends to miss a lot. Plasmas, liquid crystals and glasses don’t sit well within it. I’m tempted to leave it because it tends to degenerate into lazy thinking.

      If I’m going to look at smaller and smaller scales then a microscope is probably going to feature as is Brownian motion. A Brownian motion demonstration or activity might well lead to questions that will give evidence of some understanding. This is useful: http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/indexmag.html?http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artjun09/dw-brown2.html


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