Prior to commencing my course I have started to put together some resources to help me teach. This one is for homework tasks. The idea is that the students select the homework that they want to do, giving them ownership for their own learning. I have created it as a PowerPoint slide. The homework tasks can be added using text boxes. I am planning to have up to three choices per challenge level.
Click here to download: chili – homework tasks
It’s also available via TES resources Chili Challenge Homework Task Sheet
In 2008, whilst on maternity leave with my second son, I heard about a programme called ‘Insight into Teaching’ run through the Careers Development Centre at Stirling University. Attendee’s are placed in schools for 6 weeks, for half a day a week. Places were awarded on the programme following competitive application.
I was successful and my placement school was a non-denominational school in Stirling with about ~700 children on the roll. At the time of my visit, the attendance of students was below the national average. Something I noticed for myself, when I noticed that there were only 15 seats available in a class with a potential roll of 20. When I asked about it, I was informed that it didn’t matter because in that particular lesson, they could guarantee about 25% truancy.
During the placement I observed, physics, chemistry and biology lessons. I was advised that there would be greater chance of employment if I went down the route of pupil support. I had a really interesting time and learnt a great deal, it gave me a lot to think about, but the time wasn’t right to follow the teaching route just yet.
To record my experience I was given a worksheet to record evidence of my placement.
When I discovered the requirement to have a minimum of 10 days teaching experience in a secondary school in order to access a SCITT programme, I recalled the worksheet. I adapted it, and used it to record details of my School Experience. It was very well received at my interview and I have made it available for others to use click here (I have been granted permission to share it from the Careers Development Centre at Stirling University). It is best to print using the ‘Borderless’ option, in your printing options menu (or equivalent).
One of my conditions to access the SCITT course I have been accepted at, is to complete an evidence document of the school experience that I have done. The log is going to prove invaluable!
It was 20 years ago that I sat my A-Levels (biology, chemistry, geography and general studies) and 22 years ago that I did my GCSE’s. So the prospect of teaching these subjects was rather daunting. I was particularly worried about the requirement to teach chemistry and physics at key stage 3, which is often a requirement of biology teachers (plus the SCITT programme I am joining is for biology with science).
So prior to applying for the SCITT I started looking for courses which would bring me more up to date in these subjects. Initially I considered doing the chemistry A-level again but the prospect of joining a class of 16/17 year old’s was not appealing. I looked at some of the Open University courses, but they were incredibly expensive and completely beyond my means.
However, I had a stroke of luck with one of my Google searches and discovered the Higher Education Diploma (Science) Diploma course. It is designed for those who left school without the qualifications they need and whilst this isn’t strictly true for me I had no doubt that it would fit the bill to make me more confident about teaching science. The Access Diploma is a full level 3 course.
I did a search of local colleges and discovered that it was being taught nearby. But it was rather expensive and would mean full days in college which is tricky as working mum. Then I discovered the Distance Learning College and not only was the course more affordable, but it could be paid in installments (huge relief). The course is divided into biology, chemistry and physics. Each module is taught by a specialist tutor. Each unit comes with a work book, detailing all of the things you need to know. Throughout this are Self Assessment Qualifications and once submitted an assessment needs to be completed and there are two exams to sit as well. Each module beings with an ungraded unit so you know what to expect. I will not lie, this is an intensive course. As soon as you submit one piece of work, the next one is set immediately. There is a lot of work and organisation is key but I am getting through it….slowly but surely.
I have had one exam so far and it was a bizarre experience. You do it over skype and the tutor can not only see what programmes you have open on your monitor but can see you and you them. It is a bit nerve wracking!
Tonight I have been working on the self assessment questions for the core principles of chemistry unit – but have been rather hindered!
The course is a year long and I started it in September – my only concern is that I won’t finish it before I start my SCITT. Keep your fingers crossed for me please!
For my interview to got onto the SCITT I had to prepare 10 minutes of teaching, revising the topic of ‘Semi-Conservative DNA replication’ to a class of year 12 students. For tips to help with your teaching practice please click here
I decided to create a game of catchphrase. I am lucky in that I have my own business, creating interactive teaching resources, so was fairly confident that I would be able to use the software to create a game board…I just had to figure out how.
I have designed the board so that it isn’t topic specific, and can be used for any biology related revision quiz. You just need to provide the questions!
The idea is that you ask the class a question, the person who answers it correctly gets to choose a square to remove. As each square is removed, more of the hidden picture is revealed. The picture represents a biology related catchphrase. The student who guesses the catchphrase first is the winner…prizes are optional!
Catchphrase Gameboard (online access)
Please feel free to use it for your own teaching practice. It can also be downloaded here.
N.B.: The solution is: Survival of the fittest
In 2000, I moved to Stirling to commence a Ph.D in Aquatic Veterinary Science at the Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling. The focus of my research was investigating the effect of season on rainbow trout. I loved working in the lab, making new discoveries and sharing the results of my work at international conferences.
I completed my Ph.D in January 2005 and began the first of two post doctoral research grants. This time my work focused on the development of control strategies against a bacterial disease which affects fish. In 2008, the Institute of Aquaculture received a phone call from a primary school in Stirling who were doing a class project on the sea, and wondered if anyone would come and give a talk to the children. I was on maternity leave so I volunteered, and took with me my old dive kit, a couple of experiments, shark eggs and a shark jaw as well as a game which the children could play to learn more about the creatures in the sea. I had a great time and was inspired by the creative questions the children asked. One memorable one was “If all the sea drained away, could you drive a mini across the seabed?”. I was invited back the following year.
Whilst on maternity leave after the birth of my second son, I noticed an advertisement at the university’s Career Development Centre for a scheme called ‘Insight into Teaching’. Following competitive application, this programme places students in schools for six weeks for one half day a week. The school that I was placed with was Bannockburn High School. Over the period I was with them I observed biology, chemistry and physics lessons. It was quite an eye opening experience but it cemented a new ambition – to become a teacher.
My next foray into education came in 2009 when I happened to sit beside the Head of Biology for a secondary school in Stirling at a wedding. I was invited to visit her advanced level biologists and I began to visit once a week to teach genetics. It was a great experience, but I had a bit of a shaky start. More used to delivering lectures, where students took notes as I spoke, it did not occur to me that pupils would not do the same thing! The second lesson was much more successful! We built a DNA helix out of marshmallows and liquorice and investigated the progeny of dragons!
In 2009, I decided to take voluntary redundancy so that I could focus on my then young children. I also entered the education industry, but at almost the other end of the spectrum…I became a volunteer at my son’s playgroup.
I have thought about being a teacher before. In fact, a few years ago I got a place on a primary school teaching course at Dundee university. At the time I lived in Stirling so figured that it would be entirely feasible to commute for 1.5 h there and back every day. However, the day of the interview changed all that. It took me so long to get there and so long to get back, that I had no choice really than to scrap my plans. If I had only had myself to consider, it wouldn’t have been an issue, however I am a mum of three children, at the time two were at primary school and one at nursery. Mainly because of the childcare issue, I turned down the offer of a place, and waited for ‘the right time’.
Last year my whole family moved. My mum, my sister and her family and us, all moved to Skipton in North Yorkshire. This change in circumstance, along with the fact that now all of my children have started primary school means that I could look again at the option of teaching. Fortunately, I appear to have fallen on my feet because based in Skipton is the Northern Lights Teaching School Alliance and it is through them that I will access my SCITT course starting in September this year.
I made my first career choice at a very young age. I have a very clear memory of being home from primary school. I don’t recall exactly why, but it was due to some childhood lurgy. To keep me occupied I was watching (if my memory serves me correctly) BBC2’s ‘The Natural World’. The episode introduced me to a creature that I had never heard of, and immediately was inspired to find out more about them. That animal was the living fossil which is ‘the nautilus’ https://youtu.be/QMFqV4SJLWg
After watching the TV programme about the nautilus I sat down and wrote about it. I suspect I probably just copied the blurb from the TV magazine but it was the start of my foray into aquatic biology. But it was so important to me, I kept it.
I was already fascinated by biology and kept a ‘nature folder’ detailing the natural world around me. Most of it copied from the ‘A Handguide to the Wild Animals of Britain and Europe by Arnold, N., Ovenden, D. and Corbet, G. (1986).
I drove my poor mother mad with collections of creepy crawlies and ‘rescued’ half dead mice from the farm cats. All kept in my bedroom (obviously). At one point I even had a daddy long legs hospital, where I rescued the insects which had half drowned in the garden pond. The hospital closed the day I released one of my patients back into the wild and it was immediately caught and eaten by a bird on the wing.
At that time when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer had always been an ‘entomologist’ (I think my parents had taught me the ‘big word’ – it certainly perplexed the adults I told my career aim to). However, after the introduction to the nautilus my career ambition changed and I decided that marine biology was the way to go.
I have recently accepted a place on a SCITT course to become a secondary biology with science teacher. I have only been on this particular journey for a few months, but I have already learned a great deal. However, there have been a few experiences that I wish I had been forewarned about e.g. having to write a critical essay inspired by Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk “Do school’s kill creativity?” as part of an interview.
So, to help my fellow ITT applicants I have started a Blog, Facebook page, Twitter account and YouTube channel to share any tips and experiences that I come across as I take my first steps on my journey to become a teacher.