I’ve been using Activate for six months now so I thought it was time for an update. I have seen much discussion on #ASEchat and I know schools out there are considering the switch.
I’ve used Activate as a structure on which to do my own thing. I’ve kept to the topics, the lesson content (roughly) but that’s where it stops. I use the teacher guide if I need help with levelled learning outcomes or ideas for a topic. The rest of the information given for each lesson is probably useful to new teachers but as an old-timer I find most of it superfluous.
Kerboodle. What can I say about Kerboodle? The first thing is that I won’t be subscribing next year. I know that will take away updates and interactive materials but as I haven’t used them this year, I won’t miss them next year. The resources on Kerboodle seem to be intended for schools that have an unlimited photocopying budget and a desire to use up the forests of the world. I’ve not used many of the resources for this reason – yes my students have SEN but quite honestly I can knock up better while blindfolded and using my nose to work the trackpad…
I’ve not used any of the interactive and assessment materials on Kerboodle and don’t think the subscription fee is worth it for these. (I didn’t set it up because I knew I wouldn’t be using it next year).
I’ve not taught the year 7 units so I can’t comment on these, but the year 8 modules are ok. The content flows and students have enjoyed the activities (although I’ve probably inserted in a few extra practical activities of my own). I’ve not used the text books with students at all, and I managed to cancel my order of class sets which has helped keep my costs down. Year 8 have certainly enjoyed their science – the only downside (which comes with covering the curriculum in two years) is the fast pace of the content.
This brings me to year 9. I’ve tried to think of something positive to say about this but I can’t. It is clearly written for more able and engaged learners but a lot of the content is dry. Very dry. I managed to plod through genetics but the new technologies section is what finally killed it for me. If I want to go to sleep just reading the overview, there is little hope of engaging my learners. I found it so dull that I’ve dropped it already and moved the group onto KS4 early.
So there you have it. I would suggest that schools should develop something that suits their learners and use Activate as a starting point rather than a definitive scheme. If you have good access to IT either at home or school (or preferably both) you might find the Kerboodle subscription useful but I didn’t (apart from not having to carry home the textbook to help me plan).
How did you find Activate? Have I been too harsh or do you agree with me? I’d be interested to hear your comments below.