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PGCE interview - any secondary science teachers willing to give me some help

(6 Posts)
backinschool Wed 27-Jan-16 12:40:07


I have 3 interviews for Secondary Science PGCE/Schools Direct places next week and I am panicking slightly. I need to prepare a 15 minute activity on any topic in science for a group of year 7 or year 8 children. I have an idea but I'm really not sure that a) that I am aiming it at the correct level or b) it isn't an activity they will have done previously. I am used to teaching adults at GCSE level rather than KS3 so I'm not sure whether this will be too simple. It is based on an activity I did ages ago at a science festival but I'm not sure whether schools do something similar already - does that even matter?

My idea is to show them a picture of someone shipwrecked on a desert island. She is thirsty but doesn't have any clean water and I will ask them to think about what could be in the water - shells, sand, salt, crabs...... Then I am going to ask them to look at the items that have washed up on the beach (things like a towel, bucket and spade, bottles, driftwood, plastic bag) and think about how they could use them to get clean water. I will give them 5 minutes to talk about it in groups and draw a diagram of what they would do. Then I will have some stickers with key terms like filter, evaporate, condense, collect that I will ask them to add to their diagram and we can talk about what the terms mean. If I had more time then, depending on ability, I would ask them to either
- write a simple protocol using the key words
- put cards with the steps of the protocol in the correct order (maybe fill in the key words)
- match up pictures of the steps of a protocol with the key words

and then I would do a demo or class experiment.

What do you think? I'm worried it might be too easy for 'good' year 8 students and they won't learn anything. Or maybe it's just a rubbish idea, I'm so nervous I can't think straight.

DitheringDiva Wed 27-Jan-16 17:05:56

It's not a rubbish idea, but you'd be surprised at how difficult some pupils might find this, so i wouldn't worry about the level, if they haven't told you the specific level of the pupils, then that's not your fault. Also, it's 15 minutes! - you'll only have time to do the first bit of what you're suggesting - don't even think about a class practical in 15 minutes (unless that's the only thing you do) - it takes them 5 mins at least to get everything out and then another 5 to put everything away again (and the rest sometimes...). To be honest, it's a PGCE interview, so they won't (or shouldn't!) be expecting anything particularly good, they just want to see that you've had a stab at planning, and then be able to talk about the plan critically. Will you be delivering the lesson as well?

GinandJag Wed 27-Jan-16 17:26:36

I think this is a fine idea.

I have sheets (laminated, they are so useful), where I give a problem of someone stranded on a desert island with a few bits of things washed up on the beach and they have to get clean drinking water. My sheets have pictures substituting some words to make it more of a puzzle to solve.

I have used this with Y6 and Y7, so perfectly in your target age group.

I think it might take your 15 minutes for them just to find a solution to the problem. Using the correct scientific words would be a bonus, but you are right to provide them. I would keep the items washed up to just what you'd need.

There wouldn't be any time for an experiment.

I would do the standard "rock salt" experiment in the follow up lesson.

Rock salt is a natural mixture of sand and salt. Add water to dissolve the salt, filter off the sand, evaporate and condense the water. This experiment usually has the objective of obtaining pure sand, salt and water from rock salt.

backinschool Wed 27-Jan-16 21:48:37

Thanks for the feedback. It's good to know it would work as a lesson GinandJag but I think I might be overcomplicating this and trying to be too ambitious in 10-15 minutes.

I do have to teach the activity DitheringDiva and it needs to be at least 10 minutes but no longer than 15. I wasn't going to attempt a demo/practical or writing a protocol (I was thinking about how I could continue the lesson if I was asked) but maybe the task is too long anyway. I hate planning sessions like this! I'd rather be asked to explain/teach a concept, at least that way you are focused on the learning outcome rather than just trying to come up with something interesting that gives you a chance to interact with the students.

I think having a little bit of teaching experience is working against me. I'm worrying about how to show progress, differentiate the task and wedge in some literacy and numeracy when they probably just want to see that you can talk to the kids and don't hide behind the desk blush. I just really want to make a good impression.

DitheringDiva Wed 27-Jan-16 22:07:04

you can talk to the kids and don't hide behind the desk This is exactly it - most PGCE interviewees won't have a clue about all the other stuff you rattled off. Make sure you come across as though you enjoy the experience of teaching when you deliver the lesson (hard, I know, when it's part of an interview!)

backinschool Wed 27-Jan-16 22:16:15

Thanks Diva. I have all 3 interviews within a week, plus my skills tests booked, right when I am trying to run and mark controlled assessments at college. I'm panicking because I don't feel I have enough time to really think it all through but I suppose this is what it will be like when I'm teaching so I'd better get on with it wink.

Thanks for the posts, just what I needed to get it in perspective.

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