Teaching practices that matter in Key Stage 3

During Key Stage 3 many pupils lose interest in science. Christopher Harris and Ronald Marx describe techniques that can help teachers create engaging and meaningful science experiences for these pupils

KEY STAGE 3 is a critical time for engaging children in learning science. Yet, the way science is often taught during these years leaves many pupils bored and struggling to find relevance and meaning in their science classroom experiences. Educational research shows a steep decline in science interest and achievement among KS3 pupils. A challenge facing educators is to find new ways of teaching science that are engaging, relevant, and meaningful for pupils.

What we know
● Contextualising teaching helps pupils see the relevance of science.
● Activating prior knowledge is an effective starting point for building scientific understanding.
● Supporting explanation and reasoning engages pupils in thinking deeply about science.
● Focusing on learning goals helps pupils stay on the intended learning path.
● Attending to pupil thinking is necessary for pupils to benefit from enquiry.

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June 2010