Welcome


My interest in the idea of sharing pedagogical purposes comes directly with the contact I have had with the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning at Monash University in Australia. Now each of these teachers were very active in establishing learning agendas with their classes. The impact they were having was inspiring. Each classroom tool can have a purpose beyond delivering content, and this needs to be shared.
I suppose the purpose of this website is collate, crystalise and open dialogues about how to increase this within classrooms. As the quote from Carl Bereiter illustrates this classroom methodology can empower our students.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Trawling for our PCK: A tool.


Planning lessons is so much more than just creating structures and frameworks. Good planning involves us employing our pedagogical content knowledge; it dances at the intersection of our knowledge of:

  • Our subjects.
  • How our subjects are learned: the common misconceptions, threshold concepts and difficult ideas.
  • How students learn.
  • How (or whether) specific teaching strategies work.
Consider the following PCK extraction device as a net to cast over the recesses of your mind to capture  the nuances of  how we need to be able to teach a concept/ idea well.  It is based upon the bloody marvelous tools developed by John Loughran in ‘Understanding and Developing Science Teachers’ Pedagogical Content Knowledge:  though it’s not just for science teachers, this tool has a finely tuned "Cod End" in which the tasty teaching morsels can be captured. A good net is always going to be a compromise between having holes  which are too large and everything can merely pass clean through, and one with too small holes that captures everything in the most cumbersome fashion possible. I believe this set of questions provides an useful balance for  thinking and planning. It’s not a checklist, and there’s no need to use each question: choose which prompts are most useful to you, your students and the content,  as although the example below gives many questions that appear helpful, it’s best targeted at areas where important, difficult concepts or misconceptions lie.

Aspect of PCK
What is the concept to be learned? (a single concept works best for clarity)
What should students know before learning this?
What might they already know?
What misconceptions might they have?
How will you find out about student ideas?
What will they find difficult? Why will it be difficult?
How can this be made easier to learn? Is this idea so important that you will deliberately manage the number exposures over coming lessons?
How will you represent this knowledge so that it is unambiguous to students?
Analogies/models?
Symbols?
Language?
Sequence?
Diagrams?
Why is this knowledge important? Is this one of the main concepts of your subject?
Where is this knowledge going? How might it be used in future learning?
How will teaching and tasks/activities help students engage with this idea?  Why have you chosen these activities?
What caution do you need to exercise? How might you teach a misconception?

What else might influence student thinking on this? How might they know what they know?

Although the example given below is a science one many of my colleagues across all areas of the curriculum have found it a useful prompt to thinking about their teaching and a way of pulling ideas together before they plan lesson sequences

Aspect of PCK
Science example
What is the concept to be learned? ( a single concept works best for clarity)
How dissolving takes place. Year 7 beginner science.
What should students know before learning this?
Particle model will help students understand how this process takes place.

Key terms: Solvent, solute and solution
What might they know?
Lots of examples of things that dissolve things and things that are dissolved.
What misconceptions might they have?
That the material being dissolved disappears when in solution.
Students find the change of state of the material being dissolved confusing, often think of it as melting.
This is exacerbated by
How will you find out about student ideas?
Ask them to predict the 100ml of water to 100 ml of ethanol. Do they know taht particles can be different sizes in different materials? How aware are they with the spaces between the particles?
What will they find difficult? Why will it be difficult?
Visualising what is happening to the particles do when in solution.
Distinguishing the key terms due the similarity.
When materials dissolve they, on the surface, look like they have disappeared.
How can this be made easier to learn? Is this idea so important to manage the number exposures over coming lessons?
Rice and Pea model will help visualisation.
Multiple exposures over several weeks to the terminology.
Work from concrete (examples) to the abstract (particle model)
Will have a venn diagram activity (on stand by for this lesson) for when we study changes of state to distinguish between dissolving and melting
How will you represent this knowledge so that the it is unambiguous to students?
Analogies/models?
Symbols?
Language?
Sequence?
Diagrams?
Rice and Pea model.
Concept map of key terms.
Discuss examples of solutes, solvents and solution before defining them.
Why is this knowledge important? Is this one of the main concepts of your subject?
2/3rds of the earths surface is a solution. Living things rely upon solutions for transport and function.
Lots of complex science is based upon this.
Where is this knowledge going? How might it be used in future learning.
Students will soon learn about the factors that affect the rate of dissolving.
Students will use this knowledge to separate the soluble and insoluble substances (i.e. is a property)
Later students will study ideas about concentration, osmosis, rates of reaction.
How will teaching and tasks activities help student engage with this idea?  Why have you chose these activities?
Rice and pea makes what is happening accessible and a reference point. As does the simple summary solute+solvent=solution.
A brief practical on dissolving ( and its subsequent write up) allows for plenty of application of new  language and ideas.
What caution do you need to exercise? How might you teach a misconception?
Care must be taken when talking about the rate of dissolving. Using terms such as “fastest” are misleading, but will be part of student every day language.
Important for the knowledge to be applied in different situations so it does not become “inert”. Practicals will help with this.
What else might influence student student thinking on this? How might they know what they know?
Lots of TV adverts proclaim fast action, when they mean in a short period of time.
Kitchen/cooking experiences maybe provide some useful start points.
Reminding of the taste of sea water will remind them that solutes do not disappear.
What signs might students show that they are “getting it”? What questions might they ask that anticipate next steps?
Students refer to “the solute” as opposed to sugar/ salt, and “solvent” instead of a water

Are all solvents liquids?

Are only solids dissolved?

So are some particles smaller than others?

Are the solute particles fitting in between the “gaps” between the solvent particles?








 Understanding and developing Science teachers Pedagogical Content Knowledge by John Loughran et al. 2006 Sense Publishers.