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Calling Any A-level Science Teachers

Discussion in 'Science' started by danduerden, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. danduerden

    danduerden New commenter


    I'm looking to make links with schools who teach A-level science (All three subjects) and have positive LV3a scores or generally high attainment in science A-level subjects. I want to learn from any good practice which goes in any aspect of teaching A-level sciences, delivery, tracking, assessment, intervention etc...

    If you work in a school where your A-level science students make good progress, would you be willing to make a link and share what you do with me?


  2. oscillator

    oscillator Occasional commenter

    Lots of practical work and lots of practice questions (not necessarily specifically exam questions, but practice in order to apply whatever skills/ knowledge they are acquiring from any source). The key is time and effort from the students. Require them to use textbooks - read and make revision notes after each lesson and answer the questions there. Isaac Physics/ Chemistry for stretch and challenge.

    You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
  3. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    - Each student must do some form of pre-reading before lesson and will need to show evidence of this
    - Lots and lots of application-style and very difficult exam questions/first year degree level to really push students in all sciences
    - Work booklets/homework booklets to refine knowledge
    - Practical work (more than just required practicals)
    - Maths skill development
    - Drop in sessions/lunch time sessions
    - Targeted intervention
    - Mentoring scheme (Each Y13 student is paired with a Y12 student whom they teach/help every week in the lunch time session).
    - Plenty of engaging, "fun" consolidation activites.
    - Students as Teachers for the starter of lessons with with a certain student re-teaching what we learnt last lesson (that way I see if they know it and how the class responds).
    - Olympiad for high achievers
    - Trips and visits for inspiration etc.
  4. BW12345

    BW12345 Star commenter

    The physics teacher at my school doesn't see the point of doing practicals,
    at all.
    I hate to criticise a colleague but the number of passes last year was
    one, a D.

    and out of 250 kids doing A levels, the number doing physics this year is....

    Maybe there's a link?!!
  5. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    Doesn't see the point!?!

    Practicals are the heart of science.
    phlogiston likes this.
  6. BW12345

    BW12345 Star commenter

    Beggars belief, eh?
    I'm reminded of when I had to do Young's slits at uni, it was the third time in my education. I couldn't be bothered so I worked out the numbers, added a 5% error and wrote it up.

    I had to do it again because 5% was far too big an error:oops:
  7. skvo

    skvo New commenter

    I worked at the college with great results at A level. My physics classes were no bigger than 6 students and teaching hours for normal 2 year course were 6 per week (more for intense 1 year). There was no nonsense in form of observations, meetings, targets and what have you. Teachers were trusted to do their best - with 32 hours per week contact time written in our contracts.
  8. glenister_kj

    glenister_kj New commenter

    Interesting thread here.

    My A-Level class is so unmotivated and their grades are slipping as a result. I put revision sessions on for them and they don’t turn up. They chat in class when they should be doing work. I’m strict with them but there is only certain things I can do seeing as they are A level students
  9. BW12345

    BW12345 Star commenter


    Next time there's a fairly obvious outbreak I'd stop the class, turn off the screen, tell them you've taken out the register and you're
    making a list.
    Pause, pause, go slow and deliberate. (If you have a TA, make sure they're on board first.)

    "We need to know:-
    "Who of you want a decent grade that's as good as you could get?
    Who are prepared to be be considered as society's junk people, the trash who want other people to provide for them all through life?
    It's because we need to know what to put on your record and for a reference."
    "Decision time".
    Remind them they'll have 50 odd years of working life to be looking back on this decision, and it's up to them. It will affect their future.

    Pause 30 seconds, making eye contact.

    Start alphabetically, or if that's a baddun go from the front row leftmost. When that one says they want to do as well as they can, say yes you do believe them, edit your list, and move to the next.
    It'll be memorable if you repeat all the same words for every pupil.
    If you get one who won't answer, ask if you should put them down as "CBA - Can't be ........bothered??"? "Is that how you want to see yourself". Some will say Yes. Whatever, repeat their name poker faced, write it down and move to the next.

    When you get a liar, tell them you don't think you believe them, you've put a question mark and you'll see how they go in future.
    Some you've lost already, no amount of cajoling will help them. Horses to water...
    You're doing extra classes - you're doing more than your bit.

    I've done this a few times. A every productive 10 minutes.
    In my experience you'll win most over, and some will want to review their negative answer later.
    glenister_kj likes this.
  10. oscillator

    oscillator Occasional commenter

    I also found the more 'extra' I did, the less they felt they needed to do. Sure, fair enough them having gone away and revising and now they have questions to ask! Of course - I would bend over backwards to help!!! Stop doing things that they should be doing regularly. Maybe model what they should be doing once or twice, but STOP working harder than they should be working.

    If you put on revision sessions, they sit there passively feeling they've done their revision, so they revise less. Instead, model revision activities in lessons so that they know what they need to do to succeed.
    glenister_kj and sparkleghirl like this.
  11. averagedan

    averagedan Occasional commenter

    With sixth formers this is always a difficult situation, treating them like small children and using "naughty lists" and detentions doesn't really work with lower school let alone upper school.

    The first thing to establish is if your point of view is correct/reasonable - my most irritating class love science, chat non-stop and give me the impression they're doing no work. Yet their grades are always rock-solid and their books are of an excellent standard. I've come to realise that the problem is me.... I like to work quietly with little noise, they enjoy working and are loud about it with no ill effect. There's no real harm being done.

    It could also be that they're not the brightest or their GCSE grades hide large gaps in their knowledge and students who feel uncomfortable tend to be poorly behaved and motivated. You also have no idea what's going on in their personal life. Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking "I want to do badly at school" so avoid labelling kids as good, bad, etc. reinforces that image in your mind and is counter-productive in my experience. So the first steps I would take would aim to eliminate these issues:

    1. Find out their career aims and the grades they need. Use this as a motivator.
    2. Regular tests every 8 lessons. Grade using AQA boundaries. Compare to target.
    3. Issue PLCs (with example questions otherwise they may not understand what they're ticking) for the GCSE level knowledge required for each unit before teaching.
    4. For every assessment/PLC give students a clear way to improve/address issues with a statement saying whether they are above or below target. Feedback can be either via peer assessment or teacher feedback.
    5. E-mail test results to parents with a short paragraph about effort and whether or not they have attended revision sessions (this helped me no end!)

    Once you've eliminated potential issues with lesson structure, students' prior knowledge and self-perception of students learning and you're seen by the students to be working hard.... Make it clear to those who are improving that you're happy with them and get them onside. Then the only issue left is them.

    1. Keep a log of incidents of two-three students who are under-target, poorly behaved, motivated, etc. Make it short, concise and impersonal, don't label kids with phrases such as "liar". Stick to things such as "unacceptable work-rate, four questions were completed in 30 minutes".
    2. Ask their parents to come in for a meeting and go through the students' work, behaviour and attitude. Warn the student beforehand - make it clear to the student that if you didn't care the easiest thing to do is to do nothing and that you're there to help.

    You'll tend to find that this process will get your class back on track. Where it doesn't you need to refer the issue back up the chain of command - it may be that the students are not suited for sixth form.
  12. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    A-Level students, try as hard as they may be to act as "adults" are still the same children that came from GCSE. The same methods used with younger years apply, namely talking to their parents.

    If students are clearly unmotivated find the reason why and who knows - you could open pandora's box! Is this subject really their "passion" or did they have to do it? For AS biology, a good chunk drop the subject because they think Biology is an easy science (which it is, but the exams are not) and so are only doing it "just because" and waiting to drop it.

    In that case, there is no point putting any effort into people who are clearly unwillingly to make a change and try and learn, but remind them that you can't protect them failure and when they eventually realise the world is pretty tough perhaps then they'll give a ****.
    BW12345 likes this.
  13. salaif

    salaif New commenter

    I am teaching edexcel IAL Biology for the first time. I am looking for some guidance on how to go ahead with the scientific article. Can someone please help me with this.
  14. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Depends on the group, I agree with having a discussion about motivation, but would remember that encouragement and openness are more likely to result in a positive outcome.
    I would say something along the lines of "I'm not sure things are quite on track. To get an A level you need to do all this stuff. When I've taught this before, students behaving the way you're behaving don't get good results. What's going wrong?"
    I am also open to the notion that following such discussions, I may need to think about modifying my teaching style. What worked with one class may not work with another. I'm paid to be the intelligent flexible one. They've got to work hard - my hard work is in finding the right stimulus to get them to do that.

    This can be a powerful tool.

  15. BW12345

    BW12345 Star commenter

    "Nobody wakes up in the morning thinking "I want to do badly at school" so avoid labelling kids as good, bad, etc."

    If they are sufficiently unmotivated that they don't turn up, and misbehave when they do, they're labelling themselves. They're performing badly and it's going to show in their results. They need to acknowledge where they are and that the outcome is in their control.
    Of course you use parents, test results etc to encourage them to change, but there comes a point where you're better off putting your efforts in to more deserving students who will benefit.
    They might well be better off doing say 2 A Lelvels which they'll pass at decent grades, than a third where they'll just waste everyone's time.
  16. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    Start with some very careful reading. Get them to check they know all the vocabulary in the article to begin with. Get them to read it and then tell you what it says - details and summary.
    Then get them to sit down with the article and the specification. They need to mark up every point in the article where it links to the specification. This can usefully become pair work once they've all had a go.
    Then they can start to write questions for each other, based on the article and the demands of the specification.
    They do need to know the article reasonably well but it's the spec content that they really need. I'm pretty convinced that if you do this for them, they'll learn far less - make them do the work! But equally you need to have a go yourself, pick out the links that they might miss, check all the vocab (particularly for EFL candidates).
  17. salaif

    salaif New commenter

    Many Thanks for the reply skeoch. But I still have a query:
    a) Is the article given during the exam or released before the exams.
  18. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    The Spec makes this clear .... it's issued some weeks in advance, so via your exams officer. Well worth getting the candidates to write all over it. They can't take that copy into the exam, nor can they take notes in; instead they get a fresh copy with the exam paper.
    I'm not sure that I would be keen on practising with a past scientific article as the preparation time is quite long and will therefore swallow up other revision time. However it is (at least reasonably) synoptic so is a powerful revision tool in itself.

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