Students creating science learning resources
Designed into these learning stories:
Science teachers find that some topics in the curriculum are hard for students to grasp and it can be a struggle to keep students interested in the subject. Each year, a teacher is introduced to a new group of children and must deal with the challenge of understanding if the new students have already grasped the pre-requisites for the most challenging topics or how each student best learns. The challenge therefore is to devise learning experiences that support this understanding and also stimulate students’ curiosity and interest in science.
As a science teacher in a transition year, I try to get students interested in topics by asking them to teach each other and the younger year groups.
First, I administer a formative assessment that covers both the pre-requisite curriculum and this year’s curriculum. Then, I form small groups of students mixing those who show they know certain concepts well with others who do not. Each group is tasked with creating a multimedia interactive science museum “exhibit” to teach a concept from the curriculum.
I point the students to textbook and online resources (eg resources from the Learning Resource Exchange – lre.eun.org) that are related to the concept. They learn as a group, and those who already showed proficiency can help their peers. I give them sample problems and worksheets that they can use to check that everyone in the group understands the concept sufficiently.
The group picks one or two of the methods they have used to learn and that have worked well for them and creates their own “virtual science museum exhibit”. The students have quite a bit of freedom over how to construct their exhibit: it might be a poster, a physical or virtual simulation, a video recording of a lecture, a rap song, or a puppet play. There are few limits to their creativity! Each group creates a few sample problems to accompany their exhibit.
At a timely and appropriate point in the school year, all the students in my class present their exhibits to children from an earlier grade (possibly at a feeder primary school). Beforehand, I assess their work for accuracy and completeness and offer suggestions for improvements. I also usually encourage groups to involve an external expert (eg a curator from the science museum or a professor from the university). Later in the year I use the problem sets each group created in year-end subject reviews before final exams. Finally, the exhibits are uploaded to the iTEC learning resource exchange. Next year I will use them to help enliven and enrich my lessons, making science accessible in ways that were proven effective by students the year before.
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