5 tips for empowering Key Stage 3 science students to succeed

5 tips to Empower Key Stage 3 science students

Dr Andrew Chandler-Grevatt, assessment expert and Oxford Smart Activate series editor shares his five tips to empower students throughout their KS3 science journey and progress to GCSE.  

I have come to understand that a curriculum is so much more than a list of stuff to learn. Underpinning that list of knowledge are principles that set out the aims and pathways to success for students in science. Here are my five tips that aim to achieve this. 

  1. Capture their curiosity and leave them wanting to know more. 

Provide opportunities in your curriculum for things like surprise, making the ordinary extraordinary and provoking questions – and leave them wanting to know more. This will provide intrinsic motivation for students to want to learn more. 

  1. Help students to develop an identity in science that connects with their own experience. 

Start from where the student is, what they’ve experienced and what they know already. Ensure new learning connects with their own lived experiences and what they already know and make explicit links to how science is used in their everyday lives now and in the future. By providing diverse examples of people using science and doing science, you can show that science is for everyone. 

  1. Plan adaptive teaching strategies that builds student confidence. 

Plan a range of strategies so all students can succeed. Low-risk, high-challenge strategies along with plenty of opportunities for practice and self-testing give students the confidence to try and therefore succeed more often. Use models to explain complex ideas and scaffolding that is slowly faded away to give all learners the opportunity to succeed in science. 

  1. Provide opportunities for meaningful feedback 

Good quality feedback is an essential part of ensuring success in science. Planning your assessments and feedback will allow students to respond to meaningful feedback. Show you value time spent by students responding to feedback by giving time to it during your lessons. This will add value to that process and support students to improve.  

  1. Encourage independent learning through self-regulation and metacognition  

Provide scaffolds to develop skills in self-regulation and metacognition to allow for independent learning. Support not only what they need to learn but how they need to learn it, for example using the plan, monitor, evaluate technique. Use explicit examples in science lessons of how to use metacognition and self-regulation strategies, for example how to learn the names of the first twenty symbols of the Periodic Table or explicit processes and checks when balancing chemical equations. 

Oxford Smart Activate wants all students to succeed in science; to see themselves as future scientists and as life-long learners. For the first time, curriculum, assessment, resources, next steps and CPD work seamlessly together to deliver a carefully-sequenced, coherent curriculum. One that holds high-aspirations and reveals the awe and wonder of science to all students.  

Part of the Oxford Smart Curriculum Service and underpinned by Oxford Smart pillars, Oxford Smart Activate is an evidence-led science curriculum service, powered by Kerboodle, and is the next evolution of the UK’s number 1 Key Stage 3 Science course, Activate.  

Sign up to receive the Oxford Smart Activate digital taster which explores the curriculum, assessments, resources, next steps and CPD in more detail, including curriculum summary documents and teaching and assessment walk throughs.

Dr Andrew Chandler-Grevatt has a doctorate in classroom assessment and a passion for science teaching and learning. Having worked as a science teacher for ten years, five of which as an AST, Andy has a real understanding of the pressures and joys of teaching. Alongside his research in school assessment, Andy is a Senior Lecturer in Science Education at the University of Brighton, and is a successful published assessment author. He is the Assessment Editor for Oxford Smart Activate, Activate, AQA Activate, AQA GCSE Sciences Third Edition and OCR Gateway GCSE Science.

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