Key Stage 3 science lessons

Discussion in 'Science Technicians - General Discussion' started by karen b, May 23, 2018.

  1. karen b

    karen b COMMITTEE

    We are thinking of completely changing our science teaching for years 7 and 8. Currently they do a number of topics that sort of rotate through Chemistry, Physics and Biology. Things like solubility, forces and motion, respiration, magnets, chemical reactions, variation and adaptation.

    The new head of junior science is planning to swap to a topic based system that will have a mix of skills from each subject area. For example Forensics will have flame testing, microscopes, ballistics, chromatography, etc.

    Does anyone else do something similar? Or know of textbooks that may be of use?
  2. I wish we would have a complete rewrite of our KS3, we're still using the spotlight science books, which I used when I was a school!!!

    I really like the idea your head of junior science has, the topic based system sounds interesting.
  3. We started a rolling programme of change to a new "thematic approach" for KS3 a couple of years ago, with more crossover between subjects. Instead of the traditional topics like reproduction, cells, atoms, compounds etc, our Y7 now do "Buzz's Journey to Space" (mainly physics topics), "The Human Body" (largely biology) and "Detective School" (mainly chemistry) and Y8 do "Physics of a Music Festival" for physics, "Jurassic Park" (biology) and "Chemistry of Life" (chemistry). Basically, all were brand-new lessons from scratch, with very few resources carried over from the old schemes. I dread to think what Y9 will be doing next year....!
    Some people (staff and students) enjoy the theme running through the schemes, but others struggle with it as many of the topics covered are hard to shoe-horn in and links can be tenuous at best....! For example, the Human Body scheme has looking a onion cells as one of the earlier lessons (last time I looked, I'm not made of onion...!), and Detective School only has a little forensics in it - the rest is stuff like distillation and other "usual" chemistry...... :rolleyes: As for Physics of a Music Festival, I don't see how speed, motion graphs, pressure in solids & liquids and other things relate, but they're in there...! :D
    Also a problem for revision - you get students and parents asking what revision guide you find Buzz Lightyear's journey in! - and as the guides are arranged along traditional lines there can be confusion about what topics they've done and need to revise..... :confused:
    As for textbooks, we still use some of or old ones (Collins Books 1, 2 & 3, Letts KS3 Classbooks) when needed, but they very rarely come off the shelf now as most lessons are fully resourced with powerpoints, loads of sheets, "information hunt" sheets/factsheets and the suchlike. A massive task all in all....;)
    tree hugger likes this.
  4. That was sounding quite good until you started getting in to detail a little. Though do they really need to revise out of a revision guide at that age? ours don't star GCSE while Y9 so the 7's and 8's just do class revision and have homework tasks set before the internal end of year exams.
  5. I'm probably being a little harsh - it's just that they missed the mark slightly. It could have been quite good, but it's a little disjointed as people produced individual lessons rather than runs of them, so there's a degree of duplication of ideas, and the schemes don't hang together as well as they could have. :(
    As for revision guides, we've always used them for KS3 as well as KS4 & 5 - we invest quite a lot in them, and sell them on to the kids at our cost price - which is significantly lower than the shop price as we get a hefty discount from the publishers (they're also pushed heavily at parent's evenings, etc). We do revision lessons before end of topic tests and internal end of year exams too, but historically the kids have often asked for extra revision materials so the guides do have a use...! :)
  6. The sign of a good school, where the kids want to revise :)
    Dave T likes this.
  7. At my last school they tried to change to a scheme of work that was topic based. It was something the head of KS3 found and thought it looked like a good idea. In practice it didn't work, too much time seemed to have been spent on the narrative for the topics (usually masses of powerpoint slides) and the Science had been shoe-horned in as an after thought. The practicals were difficult to carry out with classes of 30 kids, some would have been great with smaller numbers, and it always seemed that there was a lot of prep from the technicians for something that took the kids 2 minutes to complete. It just seemed that the Science got lost in the chaos.
    Livitech likes this.
  8. Not exactly the same but i fell this exact way about demos like the iodine clock.
    TechJo and Jade like this.
  9. We are also in the process of introducing a new KS3 scheme and have gone for AQA Activate on Kerboodle. It's bought on subscription (about £170 for the year) and everything we need is on the IT system - student sheets, teacher and technician sheets and countless resources. Student textbooks are also available. Teachers either print the sheet for me or I log on to Kerboodle and print whatever sheets I think will be useful to me. Personally I like to have the student sheet as well so that I can see what they are likely to do with the equipment - with the best will in the world, the technician lists don't always cover everything. I then make my own alterations where necessary and build up a file rather than printing out the same sheets every time. Activate leads directly onto GCSE so if you also use AQA for GCSE it should hopefully be a smoother transition.
    Tee, Murrs, easytech and 1 other person like this.
  10. Shannon

    Shannon Shannon COMMITTEE

    We have a fairly need scheme to work alongside the GCSE course so some of the items which come up don't and seem scary to the students.

    For exercise books, we us the Collins KS3 ones (two different books, book 1 for year 7 and book 2 for year 8) And sometimes the older one which we kept.

    Does seem to be working well and the last unit of the school year is like an extended projected which they can pick what they want to do in the lessons.
  11. Sometimes I feel they just have to make their mark and have something new when the basic principles trying to be taught are the same. We all know it will revert back to the old system eventually once we have rearranged and set up the new "Wow" experiments. Spotlight had great scope for diversity within its set up with extra help and more advanced learner sections
  12. Tee


    Not sure if this is still going or evolved into something else but a few years back the state school i was in bought into Wikid/ Upd8 Science from the Science Learning Centres/ ASE which topics like CSI, cook, earthquake et al for KS3
    karen b likes this.
  13. karen b

    karen b COMMITTEE

    We are still working on this. I will mention these to the teacher who is devising the lessons.

    We opted to issue the CGP workbooks and the relevant pages are cross-referenced in the scheme of work
  14. The problem we've found here is one of specificity

    The textbooks are, mostly, written by exam boards to support their specific schemes of work
    When the teaching staff decide to go off book and write their own - like you we have a totally bespoke internally written KS3 SoW - then no one textbook is likely to cover it all

    We have the old Exploring Science 7, 8 & 9, Catalyst 1, 2 & 3, Science Foundation New Edition Chem, Bio and Phys, the Old GCSE OCR Gateway books as well as GCSE Bio For You, Chem For You and Phys For You

    The way our KS3 SoW is written there are pages in all of them that are relevant across the two years when we have to supply cover....
  15. DJC


    Absolutely loathe Activate on Krapoodle. You often need to access both 'student' and 'teacher' sheets to work out what the hell the practical is meant to be, and many are really badly written / inappropriate / confusing / pointless when there are much better activities the students could be doing. Every time we change scheme of work we appear to throw the baby out with the bathwater and end up constantly reinventing the wheel. (Friday afternoon rant ends.)