A definition is a terrible thing for teaching what a word means.
Orbit: the path followed by a moon, planet or artificial satellite as it travels around another body in space (NASA).
This definition is only useful once you are already pretty secure in your understanding of the word.
To develop a subtle and nuanced understanding of a word such as orbit, exposure to examples, especially the less common examples, such as the Mars Global Surveyor orbiting Mars, and to non-examples, where learners are told, “this may look like an orbit (something going round something else), but it isn’t an example.
I developed the resource on the left from Theory of Instruction: Principles and Applications by Siegfried Engelmann and Douglas Carnine (Chapter 4).
I use the images, typically one at a time on a presentation slide, explaining why it is or isn’t an example. You can rattle through this quite quickly. Follow it up with a Hockman ‘but, because, so‘
A moon orbits a planet, but…
A moon orbits a planet because…
A moon orbits a planet so…
or you could use elaboration with a similar/different task (here).
My next post is on Freyer Models to take the definition/example/non-example further.
In my book (due out this month!) I have adapted some of the Learning Scientist strategies for physics classrooms. In this blog, I am sharing a technique I like to use in my classes – similar/different.
Learners complete as many of the text boxes as they can, showing the similarities and differences between the two objects/concepts. Cognitive psychologists call this elaboration.
Elaboration works by highlighting the similarities and differences between concepts (I first used it for Hadrian’s Wall and Trump’s Wall). In physics, elaboration helps learners develop their knowledge by adding subtle details.
I do this by providing my learners with a sheet to complete. If I do this at the start of the lesson, I am also making use of retrieval practice and interleaving (great podcasts here). If I do it at the end of the lesson (as a check out), I am typically using it more as assessment.
I often make use of “solo, pair, share” – my students complete their sheet solo for two minutes, then pair-up with a neighbour for one minute – this gives me three minutes to check everyone and identify the answers I want shared (I usually put a dot beside the sentences I want read out). Sharing takes a further couple of minutes.
The publishers (Taylor&Francis) have asked me to prepare the text for a publicity poster. I’m please with the wording, so I thought I’d share. Tom Eden from T&F has done a great job with the graphics, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with this.
In my previous post (here) I tried to explain how bar-model supports learning using dual-coding. In this post, I want to use Cognitive Load Theory to explain that bar-models reduce cognitive load. (I should point out that as of now, I have no research evidence to show that using bar-model leads to improved long-term learning and improved problem solving – but I’m working on it).
This diagram represents the three elements of cognitive load (I’m referring to the book Efficiency in Learning, Clark, Nguyen and Sweller – 2006).
By year 6, pupils are skilled mathematical problem solvers. They can solve multi-step questions involving abstract concepts. This sounds like GCSE physics. Many year 6 pupils are taught to use visual representations to facilitate their problem solving. I wondered whether this would work in physics. I think it does.
I have put together a booklet containing problems and model answers using the Singapore Maths visualisation method: the bar-model. My goal is to carry out research to demonstrate whether bar-model in physics facilitates long-term learning.
In the meantime – I thought I would share the booklet to get feedback. The link is below. If you use it, please give me feedback.
With thanks to Jonathan Wragg, Lyndsay Sawyer, Ryan Doney and Anand Chauhan of Paradigm Trust for their knowledge, support and enthusiasm for this project (and @ollie_lovell for spotting embarrassing mistake!)
I’ve just received an email from TES advertising a book they are publishing titled: tes guide to STEM.I was hoping to see a summary of the best evidence based STEM practice. I haven’t read the book, so I might be 100% wrong here but the choice of topics covered strike me as odd – maybe old fashioned.
Six months ago, I was helping English trainees write a knowledge organiser for The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. We were struggling with the knowledge that the students would need for the Jekyll and Hyde unit, but which we didn’t care too much about long term, and the knowledge that we wanted the learners to carry for life – something less tangible, but more important. Not the sort of knowledge of quizzes and knowledge organisers.
In 2012, Christine Counsell wrote about two types of knowledge for history: fingertip-knowledge and residue (see here p65). In history, fingertip knowledge is the knowledge learners need at their fingertips to follow an enquiry in history in class – it is detailed and ephemeral. The residue is the rich, lifelong knowledge which remains when the fingertip knowledge fades away. Continue reading “A Residue of Physics”→