Monday, 21 August 2017

Substances Have Been Explored

Throughout Term 2 in Year 10 Health, I taught an exploring substances unit for the first time. I enjoyed the unit, especially trying to include more technology into the learning activities. At the beginning of the unit, students completed a short Google Form with some key questions for me to gauge student understanding. The answers (which were collated in a Google Sheet) highlighted the topics students had gaps in their knowledge, so this is what I based my planning around. Please see my unit outline here. I also asked students to complete this Form at the end of the unit, to see student growth in understanding from the beginning of the unit (i.e. summative assessment).

I feel overall, that the unit was reasonably successful, however there are still many parts to adapt for next year to be even more successful. I feel proud of the unit I created, and the learning opportunities the students had, especially when there hasn't really been anything like this before! As I am more confident with the content and key ideas I would like students to take away, next year I will be able to differentiate between the classes, as this is my greatest weakness. Because I teach 6 classes, and the teaching is all new to me, there is very little differentiation between classes. As a result, some classes had in depth discussions, and completed more activities than other classes, and some classes felt rushed. With more thought into extension activities or how to cater for the lower literacy class for example, this may enable greater understanding and application of knowledge for students. I would also like to possibly focus on less, but more in depth, rather than scraping the surface.

Throughout the unit, there were lots of different activities, to try engage all learners. There were posit-it note activities, mix and matches, think, pair shares, student presentations, human continuums, online games, and research tasks. I tried to include a huge range of activities, so the students were learning in a different way each lesson. As a learner myself, even though I like to have routine and know what to expect when learning new things, I know I am most engaged when I am involved in different and new learning tasks. I found majority of students to be most engaged when they were in small groups, and able to discuss their ideas, and when they were off of their netbooks. I think that technology has an important place in education, especially in my classes, but there are times where the students like to step away from their screens, as their tasks are regularly on their computers in their other subjects. This is something I am actively thinking about for their current Sexuality and Relationships unit.

The most memorable activity from the unit was when we completed a Google Expedition inside the lungs. I first learnt about Google Expeditions (a free app) at the Google Conference earlier this year. Our lesson focus was about the effects of smoking tobacco on the body, one being the effect on the lungs. The Expedition begins with inhalation and travels from the trachea, through the bronchi to the alveoli in the lungs. As the guide of the expedition, the app gave lots of suggested questions to ask the students, which started some great discussions and encouraged students to think. I was surprised how interested the students were looking around; they were so engaged! After these lessons I had a look through the other various expeditions available and have found some which could be used in PE for anatomy, which I will definitely utilise next year! There are lots of expeditions available for all learning areas, so highly recommend others to look into it.

I am really enjoying teaching and leading Junior Health this year, even though it has been incredibly challenging trying to create engaging lessons. Next year will be great, as there will be foundation lessons to make better for future students. I am currently enjoying teaching a sexuality education unit, and am impressed by the response from the students so far. Bring on the next challenge, whatever that may be!

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