Teaching & Learning in Science ISSUE 2 - DECEMBER 2018


This month’s newsletter will look at how we can further develop retrieval practice and spaced practice along with more #edtech tools to reduce workload and increase engagement.

Spaced Practice

What is Spaced Practice? A Video by The Learning Scientists

Within our CSI we are looking into further developing Retrieval Practice across the department, however we are also looking at how to back this up by using Spaced Practice.

Their new book ‘Understanding How We Learn’ identifies a few key strategies that we can adopt and explicitly teach our students to aid them with their own independent learning.

Their book is excellent and should be in every department in every school!

Rather than immediate study or homework during a topic, why not leave that homework for a week or two and space it out over time. This way students are revisiting past work and retrieving that knowledge which is proven to be more effective for long-term deeper learning. Typically, the benefits of spacing out practice are seen after a few days, so why not set homework tasks that are delayed by a week, two weeks or even more? If it is proven to improve “storage strength,” aka deep learning, perhaps in 2019 we should make this our plan. Food for thought!

December’s Recommended Websites

retreivalpracice.org is a great website that delves into teaching strategies and the science of learning to help transform your classroom, there are plenty of resources available on the site written by cognitive scientists. Visit the site by pressing the button above and continue the learning journey!

A special double mention to Seneca Learning in this issue of the newsletter, this site is a great help to teachers across the globe and for good reason. If you haven’t done so already then visit their site (hit the button above), set your account up and get your classes studying, retrieving and competing against one another.

Mark. Plan. Teach

Recently I read Ross’s book Mark. Plan. Teach. and what struck me was that we could be more time efficient, the scourge of many a teacher! Many of the strategies in the book are backed by research and while they aid the learner they also better enable the teacher. One strategy that is of key importance, in all subjects, is modelling our thought processes to demonstrate and explain learning. In order to do this some sort of visualiser is needed, while we don’t all have one of these we do have a set of department iPads which all have Office Lens installed on them. You can read about how Office Lens can be used as a visualiser here. Looking ahead to 2019 and reflecting on how we can save ourselves some time, we will start the year off by developing a deparment marking code and looking at how we can develop focused marking (marking against one or two key criteria) to reduce our workload and zero in on student progress.

On the right is an info graphic that covers many of the themes in the book, if you wish to borrow my copy then please don’t hesitate to ask! You can visit Teacher Toolkit’s site by clicking the button below.


Quizizz is an excellent #edtech product that enables teachers to perform low stakes retrieval in the classroom (or for homework). In your lessons, rather than a quiz on the current topic, why not give them a quiz on a previous topic or even a quiz that covers both topics.

The platform produces reams of data too which is über useful for teachers when identifying knowledge gaps, planning ahead and spotting common themes for a class and/or individual. It’s easy to spot trends, misconceptions and more as it gives you data on accuracy and time spent per question.

Example data from my year 11 class

Creating a quiz in Quizizz is easy too, watch the tutorial video below.

Once you’ve created your quiz you can share it with Edmodo, within Google Classroom, MS Teams or even just post a link for it into your VLE. Alternatively, if your school has a BYOD policy, you can just put the join code onto the screen so the students can join in and play a live game rather than completing it for their homework. This gives us the chance to get on with marking some of their books, planning, preparing resources or simply marvelling in the quiz itself.

Question by question feedback is super useful in spotting trends

Biology Resource of the Month

Check out Miss Booth’s Edexcel IGCSE Biology Practicals videos here.

Chemistry Resource of the Month

Check out Adam Boxer’s 8 required practicals SLOP (shed loads of practice) here.

Physics Resource of the Month

Ben Rogers gave a great talk a few months back about using the Bar Model to teach tricky concepts, it still resonates and proves highly useful, check out his resource(s) here.

December’s Blog Recommendations

Doc Kristy wrote an excellent piece for the RSC on how students can use past papers to more effect, read the post here.

What do we mean by "evidence-informed practice"? Key terms used in education research explained in this free poster by The Chartered College of Teaching. Read about it here.

Many of us across the department have been using Seneca Learning as a tool for homework and to promote independent study in the build up to mock exams. Students have all given positive feedback on the platform and now that teachers can set assignments it proves another excellent #edtech resource to have at our finger tips to aid retrieval and spaced practice! Speak to OLE/DSE for more information on using the platform, we are going to roll this out across Key Stages 3 and 4 in 2019.

Flavia, from Seneca, also wrote an interesting blog on how leaderboards increase student engagement. You can read her post here.

With the themes in this newsletter in mind it is important to note that desirable difficulties, the challenge of the task, is important for the bigger picture of long-term learning of students but comes at a cost in the short-term. You can read an interesting article on the matter by clicking the button below.

This newsletter was written by Olly Lewis, Head of Science at The British International School of Abu Dhabi

Created By
Olly Lewis


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