- Use knowledge and skills to identify learner’s strengths and weaknesses in order to choose appropriate teaching and learning strategies
Tests provide an easy way to identify academically strong and academically weak individuals
- Tasks like projects provide a wonderful way to identify learners with both creative and research skills that may not be very strong academically
- Practicals provide another way to identify learners with hand skills in dissections (like Hambridge and his dissecting of the heart)
- Practicals also provide a way to identify learners with problem solving and critical thinking skills
- Oral presentations give opportunities for learners with public speaking skills and acting skills to excel
- Q and A sessions help me to identify learners that don’t have the ability to understand and interpret questions
I use the knowledge I gain in the first topic of the year to implement the correct teaching and learning strategy in the following sessions
- Use learner-centered techniques that provide for acquisition of basic skills and displaying excellent content knowledge of relevant learning areas to promote critical thinking and problem solving
Since Life Science lends itself to practical experiments I emphasize inquiry and discovery as a skills.
- I facilitate inquiry as a skill by doing dissections such as heart, kidney and lungs where the learners are divided into groups, given a worksheet with photos, an organ for dissection and instructions. The learners then use their textbooks to help them find the correct labels and functions for the various structures. Other skills they acquire in the process is dissection skills, drawing skills, research skills, group work skills and communication skills. Critical thinking is necessary
- I also facilitate discovery skills by implementing basic hypothesis skills. In this case learners are given a scenario and sometimes scientific information in the form of tables. They have to identify the problem , use or obtain the relevant information, formulate possible solutions to the problem, design and execute the investigation, then interpret data and make conclusions. Here critical thinking and problem solving skills as important. Pupils must be able to make careful and accurate observations, make deductions and draw valid conclusions. This is why I let all my Grade 11’s participate in the Eskom Expo for young scientists. They often only realize the benefits after getting to district competitions. It is amazing to see the enthusiasm afterwards
Repetition gives learners a chance to practice their skills
- Creatively and innovatively adhere to curriculum planning that incorporates the use of teaching and learning resources relevant to the learner’s developmental levels.
As learners choose their subject it is within their level of interest and they have to pass certain criteria to be promoted to the next level
- I use the subject framework and examination guidelines to develop a workbook of the content the learners need to understand over the grade 10 – 12 Life science subject
- I usually receive a work schedule as a guideline for the time frame in which topics should be covered.
- I then develop my lesson plans that will fully cover the necessary skills, knowledge and values learners need to develop these include:
- Practical skills – dissection and hypothesis
- Knowledge of content
- Values – Society and technology, moral and ethical issues
- I then develop a list of LTSM necessary for the practical applications these include:
- Power point presentations on the smart board
- You tube videos (4 – 10 minutes) to deal with difficult content/processes
- Colour photographs and black and white diagrams for comparisons
- Posters for my walls
- DVD’s on various topics
- Models of organs or structure
- Materials to build models like clay, paint, waste materials, and sweets
- Worksheets based on exam questions
- Practical worksheets and materials needed for practicals
- Tests on various levels
Sometimes I go back to basics by letting Grade 11’s and 12’s play with clay to build models (like meiosis), or using sweets to build models (like REEBOP), or cutting and pasting tasks that any learner can accomplish with fun being part of the aim.
4.Balance curricular needs and the context of the learner within the suggested time frame
As I understand the context of the learner is the background or circumstances the learner is from. To me regardless of background I have a set curriculum that must be covered in my classroom in a specified period of time. Unfortunately the allotted time is not always enough as learners often lack necessary skills and I therefore have extra classes on Monday afternoons and in the third term one Saturday per month from 8 to 1 to complete content for the Grade 12’s before the prelim exam. This is done on a voluntary bases but I try my utmost best to instill in my learners the importance of completing the syllabus on time and to have enough time for revision.
There are different ways of learning and teaching the same material. By repeating content but in different ways all learners can successfully complete the curriculum for example
- Initially I explain terminology and give a framework summary of the content (Learners see the work , hear the work and copy the work)
- I follow this up with worksheets as homework applying the same work but in question format that must be interpreted
- Lastly I do a practical task to illustrate the same content
I cater for haptic learners in practical sessions, visual learners in Power point presentations and auditory learners using DVD’s , Youtube vids and explanations