Better than a definition….

Orbit - examples and non-examples
Orbit – examples and non-examples

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.

And…. my book is coming out this week!

@benrogersedu.

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Using Elaboration in Science Lessons

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.

Science SimilarDifferent (the Universe) (1)

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.

Science SimilarDifferent (the Universe)

I generally have a completed version of my own to show in case I don’t get everything I want. This link shows examples for teaching the Universe: pdf file of similar/different examples for the Universe.

I hope this is useful.

Ben

My book for new physics teachers…

The Big Ideas in Physics_Twitter (1)

My book is due to be published next month!

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.

Big Ideas in Physics Poster - for teachers

 

The Big Ideas in Physics_2 (1)

 

Why Bar-Model Works #2: Reducing Cognitive Load

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).

CLT bar model (2)

This diagram represents the three elements of cognitive load (I’m referring to the book Efficiency in Learning, Clark, Nguyen and Sweller – 2006).

Continue reading “Why Bar-Model Works #2: Reducing Cognitive Load”

But where is the cognitive science and the knowledge?

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.

Screenshot 2018-03-03 at 09.56.43
email advert from TES advertising Tes Guide to STEM

Continue reading “But where is the cognitive science and the knowledge?”

Can the Singapore Bar-Model Reduce Cognitive Load in Physics?

I was convinced by the Singapore bar-model when I invigilated the 2016 Key Stage 2 maths reasoning exam. One of my pupils, who I’d come to realise wasn’t going to score well, was faced with this problem:

Screenshot 2018-02-10 at 20.30.36
2016 KS2 SATs reasoning question (paper 3)

This is the sort of question many of my pupils struggled with. There is too much to hold in working memory. Yet I watched him answer it. Continue reading “Can the Singapore Bar-Model Reduce Cognitive Load in Physics?”

Measuring and Improving The Quality of Science Writing in Schools

This post is part of a series – a symposium – on AfL. The previous posts are well referenced and the result of much thought. My contribution is more anecdotal and speculative.

Part one of the series is by by Adam Boxer here. In it he sets the context of the following posts.

Part two is by Rosalind Walker here. She discusses the nature of school science and implications for the classroom.

Part three is by Niki Kaiser here. This post explores concepts, threshold concepts, misconceptions, knowledge and understanding.

Part four is by Deep Ghataura here. It is about the validity of formative assessment.

My post is about writing in science, how assessment often distorts writing and how we might be able to improve both scientific writing in school and its assessment.

Measuring and Improving The Quality of Science Writing in Schools

After 18 years of secondary science teaching, I left secondary school to become a primary school teacher. I had a suspicion that I would learn a lot. For three of my four primary years, I taught in year 6: SATs year. I had to learn quickly about teaching reading, writing and mathematics. But I have an issue with writing.

My experience is limited to a small group of primary schools in socially disadvantaged areas where literacy and numeracy is (rightly) prioritised. On one principal’s wall was an optician’s chart reading:

All that matters is....
All that matters is….

As soon as they are able to, the pupils write extended texts every week. Continue reading “Measuring and Improving The Quality of Science Writing in Schools”

A Japanese Year 6 Electromagnet Worksheet

Nine months ago I posted a blog which was the translation of a page of a Japanese text book (here and here). Mary Whitehouse saw it and introduced me to Shinjiro Ogawa – a Japanese science teacher on secondment to Italy. We met at the ASE conference. Shinjiro introduced me to several Japanese colleagues, all of who are working on fascinating projects.

Shinjiro has been very generous sharing Japanese resources – here is a year 6 activity on electromagnets (from: http://happylilac.net ‘Chibi-Musu-Drill’)

Screenshot 2018-01-25 at 20.17.29

You could use Google Translate and a bit of editing to read this, but I’ve done the first page for you (see below)

I hope you enjoy it!

@benrogersedu

Continue reading “A Japanese Year 6 Electromagnet Worksheet”

Teacher Training: “The Dodge City of the Education World” (Levine)

Two weeks ago I wrote a short blog about how I wanted to structure my trust’s initial teacher programme (here).

I asked for feedback and advice and I got it (thank you). The principal advice was that we’d focussed heavily on skills and strategies without looking at the theory. I think teaching strategies are very important – the cognitive load of the classroom is enormous: if a novice teacher can focus on practising specific proven strategies, she will be able to process more information in the classroom and learn to be a better teacher faster (I’ve written about this here).

But understanding learning is important too – and I don’t think we’ve neglected it. In fact, I’m proud of what we’ve done.

So I thought I’d share what we’ve learnt (through worked examples, completion problems, goal free activities, retrieval practice, spaced practice, interleaving, concrete examples, etc.).

The title of this post reflects the view that ITE in England is like the Wild West. There are great opportunities, but also great risks. I am sharing, because I like transparency; I’m looking for feedback and perhaps, if you like what we do, you’l recommend someone to train with us.

Continue reading “Teacher Training: “The Dodge City of the Education World” (Levine)”

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