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never before seen quadruple science with the flexi group- science teachers I am going to need your help

(31 Posts)
Cathpot Sat 19-Jun-10 10:04:36

HOD apologetically called me into his office with 'some news' about my timetable for september. I have flexi group next year- ie a group of about 15 of the most disaffected year 10s who are on a reduced timetable and herded into one group so they dont ruin everyone else's lessons. They can be..tricky.

This is not the end of the world as have had similar groups before, so I have some strategies.

Then he says 'and they have timetabled it so every second week you have them for 4 lessons in a row'.

Cue nervous hysteria.

So have taken deep breath and am now thinking of ways to make this work without me (or them) hating it.To add to it all the first 2 lessons are not in a science lab which really limits activities. I am looking for any ideas really, but particularly things to break up very long sessions. Also ideas for games would be great, or webites to go to for games.

If I survive I will be legend.

MmeRedWhiteandBlueberry Sat 19-Jun-10 10:14:14

That is really unacceptable timetabling. How long are your lessons? What scheme are you using?

I think you need lots of video resources, eg five minute clips from YouTube as well as longer programmes.

gillybean2 Sat 19-Jun-10 10:30:05

I'm not a teacher, but it seems to me you should probably treat it as two double lessons, given that you will be moving location in between. So treat it as two separate lessons and if possible teach two separate subjects/areas of science during each double sessions.

If the room allocated for the first part isn't suitable for practical/experimemts etc then make sure you do those in the second session. It will also give them something to look forward to if they know the next bit will be more hands on and 'exciting'

I would also suggest where possible getting them out of the classroom too in the first section, finding experiments and ways of learning that can perhaps be done outside, or using alternative resources (computer work, electric circuit boards etc) if possible.

You could for example get a respresentation of the distances involved in the solar system by measuring and chalking out a diagram on the plaground. Or try experiments like launching rockets out on the field, or discuss gravity by droping items from an upstairs window (eg will an egg crack when dropped out of the window, which will fall faster out of two objects and filming it to see it better in slow motion when you go back to the class room).

I think you're going to have to keep it to short burst within each lesson, so start by discuss the idea briefly, activity to demonstrate, with follow up writing/computer work, discussion about results obtained/what they've discivered/learnt. If they get distracted or aren't interest you'll be moving on to the next section fairly quickly so they won't be sitting still listening/writing for long periods.

Are you going to have any assistance? Ie someone to help set up or deal with issues that arise if children aren't participating or start messing about?

Loshad Sat 19-Jun-10 16:26:26

omg - your poor thing!!
are they going to be doing BTEC or something and they think will help with completing the coursework?
tbh i'd ask for a rework of the timetable so you and them don't stir crazy with each others company.

Loshad Sat 19-Jun-10 16:27:38

and yes if you do have to do it, and survive we will offically crown you legend at the end of next year.

amicissima Sat 19-Jun-10 17:51:49

Isn't there a risk if you survive that you will be considered able to do similar, and more, every year?

TheFallenMadonna Sat 19-Jun-10 17:54:58

Nope. No way.

Our timetabler has had to change from triple lessons (3hours). Quadruple? Hell no!

Or are your lessons shorter?

roisin Sat 19-Jun-10 19:24:35

How long are your lessons?! This sounds complete insanity to me. Presumably this is not the only group/set this is happening to.

I think the HT should go back to the timetabler and tell him/her that he's crap and should try again to get a better balance.

frakkit Sat 19-Jun-10 19:51:11

Jeez! Is there really no way you can rework the timetabling?

Lots of physics type stuff doesn't need a lab. Active demonstrations of theory (make them into atoms and demonstrate chemical reactions)

Can you get outdoors and do experiments there?

I'm still reeling and I don't have to do it!

MmeRedWhiteandBlueberry Sat 19-Jun-10 19:56:30

Up until a few years ago, we had quite a lot of triple lessons in our school due to a large number of part-time staff. These would be two hours.

There would be iro 15 students per class - all very nice and compliant.

But even then, 2 hours was not pleasant. It was very difficult to keep them going for the last half hour, no matter how many stimulating activities I planned. A 10-minute break midway through the lesson was essential.

teachermum2 Sat 19-Jun-10 20:50:10

Are you following a curriculum or could you do long term project work? I think a video a week followed by project work - how about showing them the story of science shown on bbc was really good. Or Steven Hawking's universe...or cosmic collisions (Disc Channel). If you do have do follow GCSE curriculum, how about getting them to teach each other. One lesson to find out about a (very small part of) a topic, the next lesson to present it. They could even plan practicals. I suspect with this sort of class, for lessons all clumped together, traditional methods won't work anyway, so you could try something new! I'm not sure the more recent methods (lots of short activities,with lots of assessment) will work. If they have no interest in science anyway, they may not be interested in aload of activities based on science. Maybe focus on presenting skills or ICT skills instead, in the context of science?

Cathpot Sun 20-Jun-10 14:15:55

Hello. Thanks for all the replies, sorry not to reply- have been off camping with a friend who is also a science teacher in fact with a very similar sort of group, albeit for a normal length of time. Its nice to know that other people would find this a challenge as well.

The lessons are 50 mins each- and there is no flex at all in the timetable, I am only working 2 days and there are 29 part time staff or something ridiculous, so basically you get what you are given this year.

i think I just have to get my head round a different way of approaching the morning- I am very much a starter, bit of demo, bit of practical, and sum up in bouncy enthusiastic styly kind of teacher and clearly this will need a calmer less pacey approach. Its also going to be about things like being flexible about listening to their music on head phones of they are working on something individual, more projecty type stuff I think. Getting outside is a good idea, but not until I have got to know them well enough. I expect I will have an LSA usually there would be someone in there with this type of kids.

To be honest I dont even know what I am teaching them- the brief heads up meeting was as I left last week. I have been out 5 years and am just getting back into it all, so I dont know what fleci group do nowadays. Last time I had a group like this I had to get them through single science and I get the feeling what ever this lot are doing it is less demanding than that, which is all good. I am in tuesday so I will get the syllabus then.

I think I need to go and find out what I am teaching them and come back with specific questions on the topics I'll have and then harvest the wisdom of mumsnet. Thanks for taking the time- I may need you again!

Cathpot Sun 20-Jun-10 14:23:21

MRWB- I take your point about building in breaks and these are what will be difficult to manage really as these arent the type of kids who just sit and chat nicely for ten minutes. Or at least might not be the type, will really depend on the group dynamic.

I was thinking I might need some sort of competitive silliness for ten minutes like who can stand on one leg for longest or starring contest or something, so it is a complete break but doesnt involve me trying to stop them rough housing each other or starting 'your mum's a slag' competitions. I will be running a raffle ticket system within the group anyway so I could work something out that would be rewarded.

OK must go parent, can't even manage my own backgarden at the moment...

MmeRedWhiteandBlueberry Sun 20-Jun-10 14:23:27

I think I would be looking for a new job.

Cathpot Sun 20-Jun-10 14:45:38

MRWB- made me smile. Actually I really love it there- HOD is great (and had tried very hard to argue my case, and has asked for me to have top set year 9 who are very very lovely, as some sort of compensation) He is also very good about back up with behaviour so once I settle in with them it should all be fine. Its my old department from pre children, so I know everyone and its just easy really, has been a very low stress way to get back in the classroom- at the moment I am on 3 lessons a week! Hopefully only doing 2 days should help.

Ask me again at xmas...

Cathpot Sun 20-Jun-10 14:47:46

teachermum, thanks, just reread thread more carefully- lots of good thoughts there

Bonsoir Sun 20-Jun-10 14:54:47

I've never taught secondary, but I have taught adults, and I think that, when you have a very long session on a repeat basis, that it is vital not to retain the same rhythm to each session. So, in your case, the first week you could do a double lesson, followed by one lesson of group work, followed by a presention; the second week you could do an introductory lesson followed by group work followed by a demo experiment and a short summing up. Etc.

IMVHO, people quickly get lulled into a rhythm of knowing what to expect in a long session, hence it is crucial to break the time up in different ways each week.

TheFallenMadonna Sun 20-Jun-10 14:59:09

What course are you doing with them? GCSE or BTEC?

Cathpot Sun 20-Jun-10 15:11:57

Bonsoir, thats very interesting as my first instinct would be to find a routine and stick to it. Will think about that.

TheFallenMadonna- dont know, will find out on tues- I posted prematurely really in mild shock.

Bonsoir Sun 20-Jun-10 15:44:56

You need to keep surprising them smile. Especially if they are at either end of the IQ/hard work spectrum, where attention spans are shortest (though for different reasons).

If you find five or six different organisational structures for the session, you'll be fine - you can vary them at will and your pupils won't know what to expect.

Cathpot Sun 20-Jun-10 15:58:23

I like that idea, having a set of formats will help me with planning as well. I will think about how I can work that. I can book ICT rooms so that will give me options- in some respects I am limited in that practical work will have to be in the second half, but I can be very flexible with what is in the first half.

LadySharrow Sun 20-Jun-10 16:01:39

- You could have four different topics on the go at once. Only study each one for one lesson - lots of bite sized chunks. Mix up the order each week. What Bonsoir said.

- Show them bits of David Attenborough videos, there's a classic one with parasites burrowing out of the body of a caterpillar, and another one of whales tossing seals in the air - silenced the most brutal of bottom set boys when I was teaching science in the late 90's

- If you can get hold of digital cameras and computers, get them making documentaries - record video clips and then edit them. Not at all hard with Windows Movie Maker.

- Lots of quizzes (TES website good for things like this) - blockbusters, family fortunes etc. Divide them into teams and run a league over the course of a term?

- Grow things perhaps? In flowerpots? That can be eaten?

- Look at 'Bang goes the Theory' and 'Brainiac' for ideas. Get them to think of stupid theories they could devise ways of testing - use it to teach fair testing etc. Getting an egg from the first floor to the ground outside without it breaking, and cooking an egg with the least amount of candle burned (weigh before and after) - always a fun one if stinky.

It's going to be quite a challenge but I think you are definitely up to it! I just hope that you will be supported and also that there are realistic targets for what they are supposed to achieve.

Bonsoir Sun 20-Jun-10 16:04:41

I would have thought that having the practical work in the second half might work to your advantage in the group of children you describe. You can use the first half to look at whatever you are trying to teach them from several different angles before letting them experiment themselves - super-preparation, if you like.

I also thought that the poster who suggested having a second objective eg presentation skills was onto something. With a small group like this, and with lots of time, how about working on group skills - letting each person talk in turn without interrupting, and then one leader summing up what was said. Those skills are really valuable in the working world.

Cathpot Sun 20-Jun-10 16:14:49

Thanks both- as I will have them to myself I may well be able to run two topics- hadnt thought of that, it depends on what if any exams we need to prepare for. There is an extensive garden plot at school and the chap who runs it is in the dept so thats also good. I am actually starting to feel ok about all this. I found last time I had a group of similar kids (only ever for one lesson at a time) quite a few problems were kicked off during the walk to the classroom- so having them for a longer period might make it more settled. I doubt I will have alot of curriculum to get through so I should be able to go off on a tangent.
LadySharrow loads of really good ideas there and Bonsoir you hit it on the head with the social skills aspect.

OK, have to sign off now but hopefully can pick your brains again when I have more details? Thank you very much for all your help.

howlowl Wed 30-Jun-10 00:11:23

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