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CPD taster - Effective GCSE practical work in physics

This is a CPD taster created to give teachers a better understanding of what to expect when joining one of our secondary science courses. Below you will find a video and a task for you to do in your own time. Once you have done the activity, book on to Effective GCSE practical work: physics (NY318).

Practical work is often seen as being at the heart of learning science in schools. If it is done well it can be an engaging and essential way to learn key skills and understand new concepts. Planning and delivering high value practical activities that test your students and further their understanding of the subject is a core competency for chemistry teachers.

This CPD taster starts you thinking about your approach to practical lessons, which you can build on through our Effective GCSE practical work: Physics course. In this video professional development lead for physics, Adam Little, introduces the importance of practical work in physics teaching. We then encourage you to complete the CPD activity below.

Task: What makes practical work more effective?

Before beginning this task, watch this video on YouTube where Robin Millar explains what he thinks is the key to more effective practical work.

The steps below will help you develop your thinking about how practical activities can be embedded into your lesson, to maximise the learning benefits and gains for your students.

  1. Choose a practical you are planning to do soon.
  2. Think about the purpose of the practical work or the question that the practical activity will enable students to address.
  3. Identify the activities and / or explanations you could include in the lesson to make this purpose really explicit to students.
  4. Consider how these activities or explanations can be can be built into some or all of the following elements of your lesson:
    • The lesson starter and introduction
    • The instructions you give to students
    • What write-up or questions you expect them to do.
    • Any consolidation work you plan to do after the lesson (for homework or in future lessons)
  5. Make a note of the approaches you will use, the activities and explanations.

Next steps

The task above highlights effective planning and integration of your practical activities into your overall lesson plan can be essential to maximise the learning benefits, by making clear the purpose of the practical work to your students. This is just one of the aspects of practical work we look at in this CPD course.

Book your place on Effective GCSE practical work: physics (NY318)

In this summary video, Adam discusses how we could use the technique we have just tried with a well known practical lesson and required practical as an example (finding the speed of a wave in a tray of water).

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