Learning and Teaching at Gilson College

Learning for living, Character for life, Hope for the Future


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Science: Teachers from Finland, South Korea, NZ and Canada on science education. – Slate Magazine

Teachers from Finland, South Korea, and Canada on science education. – Slate Magazine.

The URL above links to an interesting article that interviews teachers from several countries which ranked high in the OECD’s PISA science testing in 2009.

Some quotes of points I found interesting, and the emphasis is mine. You may find different points interesting!

What do the leading countries do differently? To find out, Slate asked science teachers from five countries that are among the world’s best in science education—Finland, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand, and Canada—how they approach their subject and the classroom. Their recommendations: Keep students engaged and make the science seem relevant.

FINLAND: Ari Myllyviita teaches chemistry and works with future science educators at theViikki Teacher Training School of Helsinki UniversityMy aim is to support knowledge-building, socioculturally: to create socially supported activity in student’s zone of proximal development (the area where student need some support to achieve next level of understanding or skill). The student’s previous knowledge is the starting point, and then the learning is bound to the activity during lessons—experiments, simulations, and observing phenomena… Read more

SINGAPOREDr. Charles Chew is a principal master teacher (physics) with the Academy of Singapore Teachers. Since joining the education service in 1986, he has been a junior college lecturer, head of science and vice principal of a secondary school, and a teaching fellow at the National Institute of Education…a systematic and systemic approach to curriculum planning and development to ensure that our focus is future-relevant, a strong and connected community of curriculum planners, education experts, and school teachers toward enabling the curriculum in context, and a commitment to developing a strong teaching force…the interface between the curriculum and the students is the teacher who breathes life into the educational process… Read more

SOUTH KOREA: Soojin Lim teaches biology at Hansung Science High School in Seoul…The goals of my classes are to assist students in motivating themselves, to relate biology topics to the real world, and to nurture the ability to inquire by challenging students…Personally, I believe that even though hands-on experiments like those emphasized at my school take longer to show student achievement, they will pay off in the long run… Read more

NEW ZEALAND:  Steve Martin is head of junior science at Howick College. In 2010, he received the prime minister’s award for science teaching…The New Zealand Science Curriculum…has the “Nature of Science” as its foundation, which supports students learning the skills essential to a scientist, such as problem-solving and effective communication...I provide students with various levels of success criteria, which are statements that students and teachers use to evaluate performance. In every lesson I provide the students with three different levels of success criteria, each providing an increase in cognitive demand. The following is an example based on the topic of the carbon cycle: I can identify the different parts of the carbon cycle. I can explain how all the parts interact with each other to form the carbon cycle. I can predict the effect that removing one part of the carbon cycle has on the environment… Read more

CANADA: Rick Pardo is a learning coordinator for 7-12 science for the Thames Valley District School Board in Ontario…In my classes, students don’t just design and conduct experiments. They also support and refute opinions, build prototypes, and solve messy problems. I recently took advantage of a national election to combine biology, chemistry, and environment concepts. Students were assigned one of the main four political parties and asked to prepare for a debate around a series of questions, like, “If your party were to form the government, what can the rest of the world expect regarding the future release of CO2 by Canadians?” and, “What does politics have to do with the science of ecology?” The students poured over party platforms, investigated the background science, and interviewed local candidates. Some even made their way to national party headquarters… Read more



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Developing Academic Rigour with All Students

A quote from an email I received today from secondaryliteracy@lists.tki.org.nz (Emphasis mine)

Keir Whipp, Head of English, Aorere College, Auckland, NZ writes:

‘…academic rigour is there with all students, and this is certainly true of [indigenous] students…

What works well for me [Keir Whipp] is (to list a few things):

  • Establishing sound [teacher/student] relationships(Why should I trust you? How do I know you care about my learning?),
  • Having high expectations(age-appropriate texts, inclusive texts),
  • Gaining student voicein what students learn and how they’re going to learn.
  • [Providing] Good exemplars[is] very important. Show students what Excellence looks like, and break down the parts to show students how they can achieve this
  • [Giving] Academic specific feed-back and feed-forward(whole class and individual) is vital, as this shows students what they need to do next to get to where they’re going (and they need to know where they’re going).
  • Also, Sound differentiation. Offer a chance for a group-conference for those who want more learning, whilst the remainder of the class work[s] on the next stage independently.’

All worth applying in our practice with our students for their increased achievement