Home' Teacher : October 2010 Contents 18 TEACHER OCTOBER 2010
'What are we doing in science today?'
'Are we doing work?'
'I don't want to do any work today. Can
we do prac?'
Every lesson as I greet my Year 8 students
at the classroom door I'm bombarded with
requests for 'no work' and 'lots of experi-
ments,' yet when they engage in practi-
cal work the conversation is rarely on the
experimental process, the observations
being made or even what these result might
mean, and mostly on activities with friends
Why, I kept asking myself, don't my stu-
dents see experiments as work? Why, when
assessing prac reports do they record poor
results and little analysis?
Every prac, after demonstrating the
method, I dutifully go through the safety
precautions, asking students in the class at
random to explain why each precaution is
required for this experiment. In each prac-
tical activity, however, I still see behaviour
that one day could result in an accident.
My biggest concerns were that many
didn't follow prac instructions, didn't
observe reactions and didn't record results.
In fact, in the previous science prac on
chemical change I'd simply told my students
to pack up in the middle of their experiment
because they weren't looking at the chemical
reactions taking place.
Perhaps the answer was that my students
don't see experiments as work because, for
them, it's a time to catch up with friends and
talk, and collecting results isn't important
because they can copy from someone else
Oh no, not demonstration!
I hate demonstration. Nothing used to frus-
trate me more when I was at school than
when the science teacher would demonstrate
the practical activity and we had to sit back
and watch. I would always be wondering
Looking into practice
USING INTERPRETIVE DISCUSSION TO CONDUCT A PRACTICAL ACTIVITY IS A GREAT
TOOL TO SLOW DOWN AN EXPERIMENT SO STUDENTS HAVE TIME TO OBSERVE AND
DISCUSS THE REACTION TAKING PLACE, AS AMY BEALE EXPLAINS.
How to get students to follow safety
precautions and observe reactions
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