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AfL in STEM Teaching MOOC Weeks 5 and 6

It’s in these final two weeks of the MOOC that I’ve felt most out of my depth with the learning: not currently being in the classroom nor being a science teacher. Nevertheless, I’ve include some notes on my learning during the final two weeks below:

Some Reflection on a Teaching Example

The teacher indicates to the students fro the start of the lesson that they already know something- this can boost their confidence as part of a starter to set-up thinking and discussion in the group. As well as the plants themselves, they’re allowed to speak to a partner and this serves to engage the students. The teacher then provides a few hints they should be thinking about, which will help him to easily identify those who possess sound understanding from primary school (as well as those who don’t).

He selects aspects of students’ answers in order to explore their thinking further: ‘Thought…’ asks them to clarify so that he can ensure their understanding was the same as the previous pair’s response. ‘On the window?’ allows the learners to become more precise about the conditions the plants have been in. The right ideas are there but they’re under the surface- he uses ‘window-light-plants’- to force more of a connection. ‘Plant, light, window and photosynthesis’, is an extension of this. ‘How does your idea fit in with this?’ means that those students’ learning is pushed on from where it began as they’re making connections to the new knowledge.

He then chose specific students to speak to further as they had ideas but there were some misconceptions indicated in their responses- even in the response supplied when they were asked for further clarification. He questions one student so that he can clarify his thinking about ‘bigger’ and how the plant becomes ‘bigger.’ With another student, it’s clear he can use the term but does he know what it means or is it just a memory of a statement he was previously taught?

How is it best to respond to students’ hinge-point question answers?

Planning responses to hinge-point questions requires planning prior to the lesson. My favourite response from a participant in response to this question is:

You’re best starting with what students partly know and then moving to the others. You’re increasing the number of students with secure understanding whereas the other students may need a lot more work or their understanding may already be secure.

If the majority of students responded correctly, I would move on and note for later the students that need extra help in understanding the circuit/circuit diagrams. Or, if the next task didn’t require me to facilitate, then I would directly work with the students who need help.

If student responses were largely incorrect, then the topic would need to be readdressed. Possibly using students who answered correctly as peer-teachers.
I like that there are a lot of options in the responses to the question. This could help in eliciting students’ misunderstanding of the concept.

Learning from more teachers in action

Year 11 GCSE Science

The teacher uses both diagnostic and hinge-point questions in his lessons. Diagnostic Qs can be used on a day-to-day basis. Hinge-point questions enable him to change the lesson based on the students’ responses. He explored the keywords to avoid students getting the question wrong due to misunderstanding of the words rather than the concepts. A student’s question is used well during the lesson- the teacher moves the question around the room, provides plenty of thinking time and asks, ‘do you agree?’ ‘What do you think?’ He began to use hinge-point questions in his teaching as dealing with misconceptions more quickly was important- and avoiding re-teaching the topic unnecessarily to the whole class. Whether your students give correct or incorrect answers, it’s important to identify their level of understanding.

Year 6 lesson

‘Same or different?’ questions enable learning, even for children with low literacy levels- as they can all demonstrate their learning. Her question was used to identify students who had linked the activity to learning and those who were failing to make that connection. In order to move students’ learning on as well as prevent other students getting lost, there was a requirement for her to assess learning at this point in the topic. Assessment for Learning becomes important once the teacher is more experienced and is less scared about themselves; therefore more focussed on the students and their learning. Once you’ve gathered the evidence of their learning, the next important step is what you do after that.

Some further online resources have been suggested by the team and they can be accessed here:

Association for Achievement and Improvement through Assessment website

Dylan Wiliam’s personal website

Education Endowment Fund Teaching and Learning Toolkit

Learning Sciences Dylan Wiliam Center website

National STEM Centre

Update on the MOOC Groups

We managed to meet for the final time this week to review progress on the MOOC and share learning. There have been some really positive outcomes from the group in that 3/4 of them are already signed up to further study online: they’ve caught the online learning bug. Many are already beginning to work more collaboratively with colleagues; especially in planning for next year’s study (based on their learning from this MOOC). A science technician is looking to spend time gathering a list of misconceptions for next year’s cohort: with associated content and activities to support their learning. She’s also gaining some experience of doing some teaching to so that she can put some of her new learning to the test. One teacher is exploring a mew feedback form for his team to use (piloting its use this term) and his move to using Google Classroom with classes means that he’s going to make use of the multiple choice question feature to ask his hinge-point questions. Making time for this kind of learning over a number of weeks is not easy but these positive outcomes indicate that it might just be worth the investment.

Click here to read Week 1 Reflections

Click here to read Week 2 Reflections

Click here to read Week 3 Reflections

Click here to read Week 4 Reflections

My writing commitment: I’m learning to honour my thoughts. I’m learning that my words can be shared before I’ve connected all the dots or learned everything there is to know. My writing can be a snapshot of a single moment in continually-evolving time.

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