Congratulations – you’re nearly at the end of your first term of your new career as a teacher. Here’s a special newsletter for you from the Science and Plants for Schools team, with top tips from an experienced NQT Mentor, our 5 top resources to help your teaching, ideas on how to keep your science knowledge fresh, and finally, information on how we can help you with any difficulties with your plant biology teaching.
5 Top tips from an experienced NQT Mentor
Vicki Cottrell, Head of Science and an experienced NQT Mentor, has put together her five top tips for science NQTs. Here they are:
- Be organised with paperwork etc. so that your mentoring time isn't dominated by admin. Use the time to pick your mentor's brains about ideas for the classroom
- Get the technicians on your side by being timely with prep requests. If they are proactive technicians, ask them for ideas (they often know what will and won't work) and help them by encouraging your students to tidy up your classroom after activities.
- Observe as many other teachers in your department and in other departments as you can.
- When you join a new school, find out where the schemes of work / resources / books etc. are kept as soon as possible.
- Keep students interested with 'science in the news' starters (there are lots of things flying around on Twitter and other news feeds that you can have coming into your phone without having to search for them).
5 top resources you need to make your NQT year smooth
We’ve picked out the 5 top resources that you need to make teaching plant biology in your NQT year a little smoother. We’ve focused on practicals which are lively and reliable – just what you need for your class.
1) Showing Oxygen Production with Cabomba
Demonstrating oxygen formation during photosynthesis can be a tricky process. One common way is to gather bubbles of gas given off by an aquatic plant. Our technical guide walks you through the process of using Cabomba for demonstrations, including photographs showing each step.
2) Photosynthesis with Algal balls
This is an enjoyable way to get hands-on with photosynthesis, with a practical technique that can be extended for use with investigations up to post-16.
3 & 4) Online Ecology Practical 1 and Ecology Practical 2
Two online ecology simulations on topics including fieldwork, sampling and interdependence. A useful way to introduce key techniques in the classroom before you go out into the field.
5) Cloning Cauliflowers
This might sound a little more esoteric – but cloning cauliflowers is now a core practical for some GCSE specifications, and it’s easy to get it wrong. Our updated resource aims to overcome some of these common problems and give you a windowsill full of healthy mini-caulis:
Keeping your science knowledge up to date with Twitter
Vicki Cottrell, our NQT Mentor, recommended using Twitter to keep up with a supply of ‘science in the news’ starters. It’s used by scientists, research labs, journals and science teachers, all to share information about what they’re up to. On Monday evenings, you can join other science teachers online for a weekly science discussion group, run by the ASE. Find out more
Here’s a great collection of science teachers on Twitter, and of course, you can follow us on Twitter too.
SAPS Ask the Experts service
Best wishes for the rest of your NQT year, and enjoy your upcoming holidays!
The Science and Plants for Schools team