Two more assignments left and I'm through the first trimester! So, by this time next Friday I'll have hopefully handed in that pesky last one! However, in the meantime, I handed in one yesterday for the Science Unit and I have until Wednesday to hand in the last Planning major assessment.
Thankfully, I'm clear for all the actual coursework and so I can get my head down on just focusing on the last assignments.
The Science assignment that I just handed in was based around designing a complete 10-lesson Unit on a Stage 4 (Year 8-9) Science topic of our choice from the New South Wales or Australian curriculum. Seeing as I have little experience in the Biology field, that was a definite avoid for me! That left me with Chemistry or Physics... and seeing as I have a tertiary study background in Physics, I opted for a Physics based topic.
However, it became quite apparent that my idea of Physics wasn't really the sorts of things that children are really exposed to... I prefer the abstract and the really cool areas... whereas much of the school curriculum, especially at that stage of schooling, is more to do with the mundane (in my eyes...) areas of Physics where you physically bang stuff together.
That said, there was a Knowledge/Content outcome group that was based on the Solar System, which also included the ideas of how Science is continually evolving and discarding models based upon predictions and new knowledge. So, I figured that this would be a good topic for me to try and shoehorn in my love of the unknown and space exploration...
As part of developing a Unit Plan, you need to explore the different sorts of common misunderstanding and misconceptions that students and the community will have. Often a quick Google search will bring up quite a lot of things, but there are also often academic papers that investigate these as well... needless to say, the Science and Mathematical fields are rife with misconceptions in the general population... which are easily passed down to the younger generation! In fact, I was quite horrified by some of the misconceptions that many ADULTS have!
One misconception that did end up being a detailed lesson was the difficulty that students would have with the different scales that encompassed the Solar System... namely, that most of the place is EMPTY! I constructed an outdoor activity that mimicked this YouTube video (below) to try and give students a concrete appreciation for the vast scales involved that would be completely out of their everyday experience!
I also needed to come up with a hook for the introductory lesson... now, normally these sorts of things are relatively easy to do with more Earth-bound topics... but it can be a bit difficult to tie space exploration and the Solar System back to society and to have an engaging impact on students. Seeing as I can't really drag planets here to WOW at... I had to make do with a selection of video suggestions instead.
I don't know how students would react to these videos... but they are the sort of thing that just brings a tear to my eye and an aching in the heart!
So, back to the Planning assignment... this is a less involved one with four questions that try to tie together the various teaching strategies, concepts and philosophies that we have learnt and quiz us about how we would like to try and implement them in our ideal classroom. So, lots of writing with lots of referencing...
What was really interesting about this one was the fact that we had to write a little diagnosis assignment about teaching and our views on it at the start of the Unit (about 3 months ago!) when we had just started the course. Reading that, it is interesting to see how much I have learnt over the course of the Unit. It is heartening to see that my past self seem to be onto some good teaching ideas... even if I wasn't able to formalise them, and over the course of the Unit, they have evolved and grown sharper with the things that I have learnt!
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