Clarity on NC level descriptors

I received clarification today about the level descriptors we should be using for Science.  I’ve quoted from the email below since many people are arriving on my site after searching for KS3 level descriptors.   Thankfully it means that there isn’t much of a change – so little change that you wonder why the Government bothered to make any change at all!

From the QCDA:

  • schools are to use the LDs for levels 4 to 8 plus exceptional performance that were set out in the 2007 secondary curriculum handbook (not the 2009 revised versions which were consulted on last year and sent to al schools in February of this year). For levels 1-3, they are to use the current descriptions from the primary curriculum (1999). (This applies for all subjects except citizenship, MFL and RE where all levels were set out in the 2007 Handbook).
  • this applies from 2011 for Y9 pupils being statutorily assessed for the first time under the current secondary curriculum but from this year in schools which run a compressed 2-year key stage 3 and statutorily assess at the end of Y8.
  • we will be adjusting the secondary National Curriculum website and putting up consolidated lists of all the level descriptions to be used. This will create an issue in mathematics (where two of the four ATs changed their name in 2007) and in science (where all ATs changed their name). We propose to list the LDs under the 2007 AT heading with a footnote to explain that, L1 to L3, the AT has a different name in the primary curriculum.
  • the line on APP is that, since national standards have not changed, it remains completely relevant although we also remind that it’s voluntary

Hopefully this provides much needed clarity as we all rush to complete our end of year teacher assessments.

Wikid Science – thermite reaction in pyrotechnics

The pyrotechnics module contains both the thermite reaction, and the reaction of copper oxide and zinc.  I have done the thermite reaction this way (CLEAPSS method with fluted filter paper) many times before but never tried the copper oxide and zinc reaction.

I’m sure there are teachers out there who haven’t tried either – I’ve put videos of both below so you can see what to expect (and the students loved them!).

Wikid Science – how I make mine better

Practical work.  That’s the main method.  The more the better.  Science is a practical subject and you learn best by doing and making sense of what you have seen.  I like to shoehorn any practical work in that helps students grasp a topic – the more the better.

This lesson in the Pyrotechnics sequence had flame tests in.  Students love flame tests but they don’t really help reinforce the concept of elements and compounds.  The solution?  Keep the flame tests but stick in some extra practical work to reinforce the main learning objectives.  I slotted in a small-scale reaction of iron and sulphur (in CLEAPSS recommended quantities of 2g iron/sulphur mix per student), moving this from the following lesson which already contains plenty of meaningful practical work.

This reinforced the concept of elements and compounds within this lesson, and provided more meaningful practical work than flame tests alone.

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Practical (used to aid teaching) works best when it helps students to grasp the main objective of the lesson.  Don’t be afraid to stick more practical work in your schemes of work if it makes science more fun and aids understanding, or move it to more appropriate parts of your scheme of work.