How to structure your lessons in Science with ease?

Teaching Strategies

By Michael Hilkememeijer

 

Integrating technology is never straight forward. In fact, it becomes more complex when planning and as we know planning lessons for teachers is essential to ensure that all students benefit from the curriculum. For those of you who teach STEM, lesson plan structure needs to be in such a way that you effectively integrate technology in the classroom.

 

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Structuring your Lesson

In this article, therefore, I will highlight how to make a lesson plan for primary science when ICT is being planned to enhance to learning and to develop student ICT capability.

When it comes to planning for primary science with ICT it is about identifying the sorts of activities where ICT can enhance and support the learning of science. Some activities can develop scientific knowledge, skills and understanding of young children but do not support the development of ICT capability.

To understand what ICT capability in primary education is to understand what true technology integration. The one factor that both ICT capability and technology integration have in common is that they require the use of technology to be ‘transparent’ in its integration in learning areas.

So they are both the same and achieve the same goals.

It is advised (NSW Education), that a lesson plan is important as it enables decisions to be made about:

  1. What the students will learn?
  2. How will you know that learning has taken place?
  3. How you intend students to learn it?

 

The following lesson plan structure we recommend for when integrating ICT in primary science aligns with what is advised by NSW Education:

  • Clarify the lesson purpose and identify the learning goal/ intention for the lesson:
    • What do you want the students to learn?
    • Why does this learning matter?
  • Consider assessment:
    • How will you know the learning goal has been achieved?
    • What will the students do/ produce?
  • Structure the lesson as a series of episodes:
    • How will the lesson flow to ensure the learning goal/ intention is achieved?
  • Decide what will occur within each episode:
    • Which learning experiences and resources best support achievement of the learning goal/ intention?

 

 

Lesson Overview

Include the Science element and the ICT element. For example, “To study the behaviour of woodlice in their habitat and in classroom using CD-ROM and images from the Internet”.

Learning Objectives

In this section, the key objectives for your lesson or sequence of lessons will be derived from any medium or long term plans in which you have prepared subject to requirements of the national curriculum. This determines what should actually be taught and at times will come from a scheme of work. It will also indicate what needs to be taught and the way it could be taught.

For example:

To understand what kind of animal it is;

To understand something about its natural environment.

Prior Learning

This ensures continuity and progression in learning.

Development of lesson and Teaching Points

This should always be taught together as the former directly informs the latter. Some examples of ICT teaching points in science lessons include:

Computers at home –

Awareness of the role of ICT in society.

Parts of a plant –

Use of basic art package tools;

Incorporating text;

Simple introduction to desktop publishing.

Insulation –

Setting up and using sensing software;

Interpretation of graphical representation of data.

Differentiation

It is important to think about differentiation at the planning stage. You need to consider not only the science but also the ICT content. It may be entirely possible to have students who are high achievers in science but low achievers in ICT. It is best to differentiate on the science rather than the ICT – if the science is the key focus of the lesson. On the hand, if the child is strongest in ICT rather than in science then the power of the computer can be harnessed to develop the scientific knowledge, skills and understanding.

Assessment opportunities

If you are to differentiate effectively, you will need to ensure that you have an ongoing strategy as it enables you to prepare for individual students that is appropriate to their ability. This is vital as it assessment needs to be linked to your planning stage and lesson objectives. This will determine how successful the lesson has been.

When assessing children’s work when integrating technology in primary science lessons it can take several forms – formative, summative or testing. As ICT capability is largely practical, formative assessment is encouraged here in order to accurately plot a path for ICT learning. This is linked directly to planning and will involve observation, open-ended questioning and perhaps self-assessment.

Resources

Science and ICT combined brings a far-reached and detailed. Your lesson needs to be resourced and this should be made explicit in the lesson plan. For the science component, resources could involve the use of scientific apparatus, investigative equipment, and research and references sources. And for the ICT component it might include digital cameras, data logging sensors or computer microscopes.

Cross-Curricular links

Here you will need to identify cross-curricular links at your planning stage.  

 

Other areas might include the following (Allen, Potter, Sharpe, & Turvey, 2012, pp. 35-37):

Key questions -

What are the key questions which you will ask the children during the lesson which draw out the teaching and learning objectives? How will you maintain the dialogue with children who are experiencing difficulties? Record a few possible prompts which you could use.

 

Lesson format

Depending on your resource setting (whether you are in a classroom with one computer, in a computer suite or a hub in a corridor), how long will the different phases of your lesson last? The three-part lesson may not always be the best model but it is certainly a common one. If your time with the children is going to be organised in this way, give timings for:

  • An introduction outlining the learning objectives;
  • Development of the lesson through focused activities and integrated tasks;
  • A plenary, where all the strands are drawn together and children have an opportunity to share successes and problems.

 

Evaluating the Lesson (Operational issues & learning outcomes)

Good planning includes a space in which to reflect on how the lesson actually proceeded. It only needs to be a few lines, written at the time or soon after, which can give you a perspective on things you needed to change to make the lesson work (and which could, in turn, inform your planning later). Did you need, for example, to alter the timings of the introduction to ensure understanding of what was required for all the children? Did you find that you talked too much and the children needed more time and more independence in their working?

 

How far did the lesson achieve the intended learning objectives? Make a judgement based on your identified assessment opportunities. If it is part of a sequence of activities, how much is there still left to do? Comment on how the lesson went for the children experiencing difficulty and for those children of high ability. How well were you able to meet the needs of those with English as an additional language? Did children with special educational needs have full access to the activity and were they able to succeed?

 

National Curriculum context

What aspects of the programmes of study are you teaching? Consider the ICT and any links to other subjects.  List the main cross-curricular focus. If you are working in an Early Years setting, what elements of the curriculum are you hoping to work with during the activity?

 

To learn more about effective planning for integrating ICT in Primary science, visit this link.

 

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