I have been trialling Oxford Smart Curriculum Service: Activate with a Year 7 class since September. At Toot Hill School we do not use Activate or AQA Activate and therefore Oxford Smart Activate is completely new for me and the students I am teaching. I wanted to highlight some of the key differences I have noticed in delivering this curriculum compared to our current school curriculum. I also wanted to go over a few of the many benefits I have seen already, so let’s start there.
Trialling Oxford Smart Activate: Benefits
The biggest appeal of this curriculum for me is the strong focus on the practical side of science. I believe that key stage three science should be focused on two things. The first is to train students to ‘think like a scientist’ and introduce them to the scientific process. The second is to foster a love of science and a curiosity to know more about the world around them. Practicals really are at the heart of this curriculum and already my class have come to expect a practical in every lesson. I have been a science teacher for 6 years now and I have found it really refreshing to be introduced to some new practicals which I know I shall be using in the future.
Therefore it’s probably not a surprise that if you ask my students what they love about science, most of them will mention the practicals. However, more importantly, if you ask them about those practicals, they are able to give great answers about why they are doing them and are able to link them to their learning.
The second really big benefit for me as I’ve been delivering this curriculum has been how well resourced it is. The student worksheets, support sheets and teacher sheets have been a really great resource when planning the lessons. Equally the student online textbook and quizzes have been a real support for students.
I’ve noticed that students have become more independent in their problem-solving. For example, if they are unsure of the answer, then they know that they have the resources available to find it for themselves before asking me. The skill to be independent with their learning is something as a teacher I am always desperate to instil in my students. It is really reassuring that even in year 7, my students are becoming independent learners, and that is largely thanks to the great resources that they have available to them. I have even had some enthusiastic students start to read ahead as they get too excited about the next topic to wait for me to deliver it!
Trialling Oxford Smart Activate: Key differences
They are a couple of key differences I have noticed between Oxford Smart Activate and previous key stage three scheme of works I have used. The first is that the lessons are quite long. In my school, we have 55 minute lessons. The lessons I plan based on the teacher handbook I have found need to be delivered over a two lesson time period. This ensures that the pace is appropriate and that students can fully grasp the concepts of each lesson. This is absolutely fine but worth noting as I have not covered as many topics as I thought I would have prior to starting the curriculum.
The second difference I have noticed is that time really needs to be allocated to allowing students to access the online materials. Initially I tried to set Kerboodle tasks as homework but found that quite a few issues arose with this. I now have a computer room booked for one lesson once every two weeks in which students can work online then. This allows all students to be able to complete the quizzes and any spare time is spent reading through the online textbook and answering the summary questions. Students really enjoy these sessions and it has made much more of an impact compared to when I was setting Kerboodle tasks as homework.
Overall I have really enjoyed being a part of the trial for this new curriculum. I adore my job as a Science teacher and one of the reasons why is that I love to foster a love of science in my students. I like my lessons to be engaging, interactive and give students the time to be curious. Oxford Smart Activate suits my teaching style very well and is everything that I believe a curriculum should be about. It allows students to be curious and to really think in lessons. It is incredibly refreshing to deliver a curriculum which has this kind of focus and isn’t just about telling students the answers.
For the first time, curriculum, resources, assessments, next steps and CPD work seamlessly together. Click to find out more about Oxford Smart Activate and sign up to access the digital taster.
You may also be interested in:
- Developing metacognition through the science curriculum by Dr Andrew Chandler-Grevatt
- 5 tips for empowering Key Stage 3 science students to succeed by Dr Andrew Chandler-Grevatt
- Using research-based evidence to inspire our new curriculum by Amie Hewish
- A positive outlook for the new Oxford Smart Curriculum