Sunday, 11 September 2011

Microteaches #5: Back In The Jug Agane

I'm determined to bash something out for the blog before teaching starts tomorrow. I couldn't think of anything suitably moving. I felt envious of The Learning Spy's department - his colleagues seemed a lot keener to embrace new technologies and to genuinely improve learning. Whereas I'm the only one in mine who knows what a QR code is. That's going to be an uphill struggle. I want to use them to put links to websites, facts and trivia, exam tips and videos around the labs for students to seek out. As an incentive I might even put the answers to the first AS Biology test up there.

For all the newness and shininess of a brand new building and lab, there are still snags. The skylight in the forensics lab is amazing and it's so bright and clean-looking in there. However, it's impossible to see the IWB. So I'm crippled in there, forced to resort to regular whiteboard and pens until they figure out how to put a horizontal blind across.

But I'm still really looking forward to teaching again. I met the new AS groups last week, and can't wait to get to know them properly. Each year I have relied on the ease and joy of teaching the A2 class to cancel out any bad bits. I've not seen many of the incoming A2 class yet, and as it's a class fed in from the two AS classes last year, there are still some students I've never taught before. They've got some big shoes to fill, as the classes of 2010 and 2011 were brilliant. They'll probably manage it.

This year I am less prepared than I have ever been for classes in terms of formal paperwork. Of my five hours' teaching tomorrow, two hours are going to be nothing more than getting to know the groups and handing out the assignment sheets. I have a practical to do with one group of students after that, then there are still some induction activities going on. Broadband conked out today for a bit, so I haven't done as much work as I wanted to. The good news is, lesson plans are overrated, and I can demonstrate that I have planned my lessons (the lab technicians looked at my requests for this week like I'd just given them each £500).

So the Year 1 forensic science students will be learning about the scientific method and the nature of science. There are some awesome ideas about it, many of which focus on evolution, so we can talk about what a theory really is. The Year 2 applied science students will be hacking away at a kidney later in the week, but they will be nervous about having a unit on plant sciences to study later in the year. Maybe they'll take a bit of notice if I give them some of the important questions that plant science may be able to answer. They might also get put off animal sciences when we do the physiology of the nervous system and muscle contraction, which I intend to demonstrate thus:

The AS students will be asked to help with @teachingofsci's exit questionnaire, to which I have assigned a shorter URL of, as they'll never remember the full URL. We had a lot of students take physics this year - enough for two groups at long last - so we might not have so many non-physicists, but it's worth a go.

I'm looking for CPD. I'm going to see if I can extract some money to go to the ASE 2012 conference (hey, they'd have paid for me to go to Las Vegas for SVP, so they'd better pay for me to go to Liverpool!). I'm going to try to be more involved in the two blog carnivals I love most: Scientiae and the Accretionary Wedge. This is of course if the management lay off the Trial By Ordeal daily meeting regime of the past fortnight. I'll be taking Tom Bennett's School Bullshit Bingo card into the next meeting with me. The phrase "sharing best practice" is like fingernails down a blackboard. I have no problem with the action it signifies, but the phrase sucks.

See you in October, I guess...

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