Posts Tagged ‘Draft curriculum’

Exploring Plants

We’ve mentioned plants a lot lately. With the topic coming up in Y1, 2 and 3, it’s important to make sure that lessons don’t get too formulaic, or similar, so that children’s progression and interest are maintained. I thought I’d share some of the work produced by children in a recent Y3 lesson. This could be a starting point for a lesson tackling the new focus on classifying and identifying plants. Giving the children chance to explore and use their prior knowledge about plants gave a good insight into how they needed to progress, rather than simply covering the same ground again. While sorting plants could sound like a fairly dry topic, simple things like having real plants and giving children freedom to explore them can really make a difference.

CHILD-LED INVESTIGATIONS.

We were blessed with a nice day and access to school grounds with a good variety of plants – shrubs, trees, grass and flowers of several different species.

I started the session with the children sat in the circle on the grass, and quickly explained that I wanted them to collect any examples of plants that they could find. It’s a good idea to check beforehand to see if there are any thorny/stinging plants around so that you can warn the kids and set boundaries of areas to avoid.

After they had collected an array of leaves, shoots, seeds and flowers, we went inside. I then gave them free time in groups to sort what they had collected. I left this as an open-ended task – the parameters for grouping were entirely up to the children themselves, giving plenty of opportunities for science talk. The groups they came up with were interesting, often based around tactile adjectives.

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Higher ability groups thought to sort them into groups based on different parts of the plant – flowers, seeds, leaves etc. Interestingly though, even the less scientific groupings tended to be grouped this way by proxy. In the pictures above, for instance, ‘ones that fly’ and ‘rough’ ones, equate to seeds, while leaves are smooth. Seeds and flowers were small, but the leaves collected tended to be bigger. With some thinking time and a few leading questions from me, all the children were able to realise this. This got some good questions flying around: why are seeds rough? Why are they dry? Why are the leaves bigger than the flowers?

MODELLED SORTING

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The above nicely led us into the fact that there are many different ways of grouping the plant parts, and that they fit into more than one group. I modelled this on the whiteboard, using my plant samples and some double sided sticky tape. The different colour pens show that different samples can belong to different groups, or more than one group. From there, we led into producing dichotomous keys, which start from a simple point and gradually group more specifically.

The children had a go at producing their own keys for their groups. I gave them ID guides for some of the leaves to enable them to write example names in – the example below includes holly and sallow leaves.

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Even the lowest-achieving children were able to grasp the concept and have a go…

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Giving the children a chance to explore and find their own examples made them feel like experts. There was plenty of room for scientific talk, ‘working scientifically’ and the opportunity to raise questions for our future learning. They were able to revisit previous knowledge of plant parts, and take this further by classifying and identifying some of the plants. By the end, even the boys who had initially groaned “but plants are boring” were asking what we would be learning about next lesson.

As we continue with our plants lessons in the next couple of weeks, I’ll upload some useful resources such as tree ID guides.

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The Draft Curriculum- What it means for Year 2

Following on from the last post, here is a summary of what the draft curriculum proposes for Y2. This is one of the years to see the most change. Two of the most well-established units, ‘Forces and Motion’ and ‘Using Electricity’ have seen major changes and abandonment, respectively.

What you can see, across the whole curriculum, but especially here, is an attempt to simplify the titles of units. This is seen at all levels, from the division of all strands into ‘Biology’, ‘Chemistry’ and ‘Physics’, down to individual unit titles. Instead of QCA unit titles like ‘Plants and Animals in their Local Environments’, we now have ‘Plants’, ‘Animals, including humans’ and ‘Habitats’.

Speaking of those strands, in Y2, you will notice a big focus on Biology. The elevation of habitats to an autonomous unit will give lots of opportunities for engaging learning and out-of-classroom opportunities. This is always one of the most interesting topics for the children, so the increased focus will be welcomed. (We’ll be providing plenty of resources to go with this and help you get the most out of habitats).

As Biology dominates, the clear loser in Y2 is Physics. The ‘Using Electricity’ module is now gone entirely, with nothing to replace it. The simplification of topic titles has had a large impact on the former ‘Forces and Motion’ unit, now rechristened a plaintive ‘Movement’. Incredibly enough, all mention of the word ‘forces’, or even reference to pushes and pulls are airbrushed from the content. Of course, teachers can still mention these in context, but it does seem one of the more curious omissions in the entire curriculum.

But I digress. This post isn’t here to debate the perceived rights and wrongs, just to make clearer what has actually changed. As yesterday, here is a grid showing the Year 2 curriculum changes.

In the coming week, we’ll deal with what the new curriculum has in store for KS2. Watch this space!

THE DRAFT CURRICULUM: WHAT’S IN & WHAT’S OUT?

It can take a while to get your ahead around what the changes to the science curriculum actually involve. There are undeniably some seismic shifts to the ways we have become accustomed to teaching and learning Primary Science. Whole topics, traditional favourites such as sound, forces and changing materials, have either been shifted several year groups, or been removed entirely. Other units, such as ‘Evolution and Inheritance’, and the study of Scientists’ biographies, are totally new.

In other ways, there is much that remains familiar. One might postulate that certain key objectives have been rewritten, or units renamed, purely to distance the new curriculum from the old, as their content remains virtually unchanged. Other units offer slight shifts in focus or small adjustments to content. What there is consistently across the units, however, is greater emphasis on subject knowledge. ‘Name and identify…’ is a phrase that crops up many times throughout the key stages.

The main changes you need to know about across the whole curriculum are about the rebranding of strands. The former Sci1, based on science skills, is now rebranded as the concept of “Working Scientifically”. as before, this is meant to underpin the entire science curriculum, but there is perhaps a special focus on the use of science talk, as well as experiments and investigations. Sci 2, 3 and 4 modules are now incorporated under the simpler Biology, Chemistry and Physics headings.

At a more specific level, changes are numerous. To help make things a bit more digestible, we are preparing some grids to show comparisons between the 2000 curriculum QCA schemes of work and the draft curriculum objectives. These will provide a year-by-year summary of what’s in, what’s out and what has changed slightly.

How to use this resource…

Each grid is for one year group, and has 4 columns. The first column shows the outgoing QCA units for that year, and the key learning points. The next column, in bold, is the objectives for the draft curriculum. These are linked, as closely as possible, to the QCA units they match best. Columns 3 and 4 offer annotations for what has been added and removed, respectively.

I hope that’s clear enough; we’re open to suggestions on how to present this information, so if you think it could be made clearer, please do leave a comment. The grids will be posted one at a time over the next few days, followed by some summaries for each key stage. To kick things off, here is a summary of the Y1 Science changes. Y2 and KS1 summary to follow tomorrow!

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