October 10, 2010

Blog the Second

The carnival’s gone, now there’s a circus on Hearsall Common, I imagine next week there will be an abandoned insane asylum. Richard Branston’s finally come round and installed our internet this is the first blog I’ve written in the comfort of my own

The latter half of week 2 was taken up by lesson planning and chemistry. Of the two the planning sessions contained the most new information, we covered general lesson structure, planning for inclusion and planning for assessment, more in-depth than the post it note with “teach science adequately” I had imagined some teachers using. The chemistry sessions were the most interesting chemistry’s lessons I’ve had in a long time, focusing on the more fundamental aspects of the course allowed for more interesting practices rather than the “this carbon’s connected to another carbon, this carbon’s connected to another carbon, this carbon’s connected to another carbon (but in a slightly different way)” stuff that killed my enjoyment of the subject at A Level, I need to try to make my lessons more like this.

One thing I have noticed during the science sessions has been the layout of the labs. The Westwood teaching rooms have the sinks, plug sockets and gas taps around the periphery of the room. This provides a teaching challenge as the class has to turn away from their experiment to view the teacher and their work stations are directly above the room’s storage cupboards, these two factors are a health and safety issue that has to be carefully dealt with.

On Friday afternoon we had a guest seminar on Microbiology. Taught by the impressively bearded Mr Scholla (pronounced scholar) a name with which he seemed destined to enter academia. I don’t have much experience in the Microbiology (I think I might have done a few lessons and maybe a practice once upon a time but that’s about it) so the subject was mostly new. The majority of the session focused on learning to carry out (and clean up) Microbiology practices. This was all new to me and although the session was clearly delivered I think I would need another practice before I were to teach them to a class. I imagine pupils could find microbiology a pretty dull subject as it mostly seems to be about carefully pouring a variety of liquids with no immediately visible results. The experiments all required a large period of time between the start of the investigation and collecting results that could prove tedious to the class.

The subject sessions seem to be getting more involved this week as we continue to bond as a group. I particularly enjoyed the Geology and Classification topics as they were both fairly new to me and so quite interesting but more importantly the practice aspects were attention-grabbing. The mushrooms task in classification was fun as we got hands on and I dissected a puff ball which was a genuinely new experience and gave me a much greater insight into their reproduction than text book learning would have. Geology had a wide range of activities but the highlights were making a time line of the Earth, an effective way to visualise such long periods of time (and it’s always fun to get out of the classroom) and using golden syrup and biscuits to model continental drift, I’ll definitely try to do this demonstration with my class as it is a handy visualisation of an abstract concept and it makes the room smell brilliant. When I think about what I liked in these sessions I find that I enjoy the fairly simple practices that we can use to demonstrate profound affects without stressing over the mechanics of titration or carrying out other fiddly procedures.

Our cosmology session was the most conceptually interesting as it stressed the mind blowing craziness I love about physics. There is nothing outside the universe, not even empty space. Just think about that, insane isn’t it? And the more I think about it the crazier it seems. I love physics because it covers some of the most unanswerable questions but unlike theology or philosophy remains sensible and scientific and cosmology is one of the areas where this is really apparent. I was however surprised to find that in a two hour, video clip heavy, session there wasn’t a single clip from Carl Sagan, I was expecting the pale blue dot speech if nothing else.

Following my subject tutor’s instructions I went into town on Saturday and did some revision guide shopping. Weirdly for a course recommended purchase I couldn’t find a Warwick staff authored book so I went to Waterstone’s and bought CGP guides (the brightly colourer ones with the “jokes”) to KS3 science and GCES Chemistry and Biology to go with the physics guide I go over the summer on the Physics SKE. It was like being fourteen again although without any mention of Pluto, messing up the order of planets rhyme. Weirdly Mr Waterstone’s keeps the educational books across from the Tarot cards, new age mysticism books and David Icke’s oeuvre I imagine they cancel each other out and so maintain an even distribution of nonsense in the shop. That afternoon I wrote another five hundred words on CCT2, mostly about the difference between KS2 and KS3. I’m a little unsure of how much of my writing’s insightful observation on the different stages of education and how much is me stating the obvious, but I’ll give it a redraft and should have a good piece of work before too long.

Week 3 was mostly dominated by writing my first lesson plan. I think I did ok, as I managed to include a variety of activities for different learners and created a clear structure to the session. I struggled most with the timings and differentiating the lesson for different learners. This is unsurprising as the former seems to be easier to learn via theory whilst I won’t feel confident with the latter until I get some classroom experience. Writing the plan itself took under two hours but the majority of my time was spent creating resources, a time consuming process which I need to get better at.

I seem to be feeling more confident as term progresses and increasingly eager to get into the classroom although I will definitely feel differently on the nights before PP1.

This week’s quote, from my mum again
“If anyone invites you into a room that’s covered in Clingfilm, run away they’re probably going to murder you”

- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Jade

    Hi Tom,
    Found reading your blog rather interesting. I completed my PGCE in food technology; similar to chemistry with it’s aspects of both practical and theory tasks, it was pleasant to reminisce of lectures and the process of writing reams and reams of lesson plans.

    If you need any advice with lesson plans, how to cope with difficult classes, where to find evidence for your standards or any other teaching-related queries I would be happy to help.


    10 Oct 2010, 17:53

  2. Thanks a lot Jade, I’m sure I’ll need loads of help over the next year and I’m glad to have any offer of support

    11 Oct 2010, 01:03

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