For this week, I made use of videos and answer garden as my starter activity. This help to solicit students’ response to the videos and thus soliciting their prior knowledge. The idea of using the video and answer garden was “born” through informal conversions with my colleagues.
The purpose of this video is to make the students realize that greenhouse gas traps heat. This is a very important concept as I can use that to discuss about global warming. Without the audio, the kids are more alert. I need to give them some clues (like what does the red line mine) so as to get them started. They then post their short notes on Answer Garden. Building on their response, I started the topic on Global Warming and then make them watch the video (with audio)
Show them a video on Acid and get them to talk about what acid can do. My students are alert and told me in the video, it was not acid. Cool that my students are critical of the videos. I then showed them another video in which the acid corrodes the iPhone. Students gives their response as “melt”. I take this opportunity and introduce the term corrodes. I need to have this starter video on acid as the students had no idea what acid is
Overall, I think the videos coupled with Answer Garden served the purpose. Getting students interested and also allowing me to know their prior knowledge. Such prior knowledge would allow me to pitch my lessons at their levels. One downside about this activity that there might be the possibility of students posting non-meaningful stuff on answer garden. There is no way to track. So far, such incident was rare. Guess it was time for me to instill some digital citizenship in them.
My kids just finished their mid-year examinations. Looking at the science scripts, we always have the issue that “pupils are not explaining their answers correctly.” So, exactly , what is that they are not explaining? Is is that we are not articulating the criteria clearly for them? Or is the criteria too vague? This is something that we have to seriously interrogate ourselves.
Perhaps, it is time for us to really scrutinize the scripts and see if we can see any general pattern. I do a sample check on some scripts and these are my preliminary rise-above observations. For these scripts
I decide to term it as the “so-what” in explanation questions:
(1) There are two components to the “so-what”. The “so” and the “what”. Some students miss out the either so or what in their question.
(2) In writing about “what”, students are typically quite good at that. The “what” can be classified in the three categories:
What is being observed or described in the question
Students to use their own words to describe. In essence, there must be “value-add” to the answer”.
Weakness: Students use the phrase in the question stem
Property/Characteristic of what is being observed
(3) The “so” part is missing in the students scripts. They would need to use the relevant science concepts to explain. Looking at their scripts, they might lack some answer frames to frame their answers. Such answer frame are specific to the topics. Here are some of the “so-part” necessary for some of the topics:
Heat : Heat Transfer [e.g., Object X gained heat more quickly or slower than other]
Evaporation : Heat Transfer [e.g., My body loses heat to the mist]
Respiration and photosynthesis : Conditions needed and the end product
Adaptation : Function of the adaptation
Energy : Energy conversion at the other poin
This list is not exhaustive. I would continue to add on this. Guess we really need to unpack what is meant by “clear explanation”. No point always lamenting “My students does not know how to explain”. Perhaps, we need to reflect on our teaching practice and ask ourselves this hard question “Have we been giving them opportunities to explain or do I just “expect them to know it”?