My contribution to the #chemedcarnival is a relatively recent lesson I taught.
Knowledge organisers are a new buzz word in school level education. On the simplest level they are essentially a very stripped back revision guide of basic facts that pupils need to learn in order to access questions that operate on a higher domain e.g., application or evaluation. Evangelists of knowledge organisers say that without the rote learned facts, pupils are not able to properly synthesise and link information.
In this lesson with Year 8 (boys aged 12 and 13) I used a single slide knowledge organiser on salt forming reaction word equations and naming salts.
The lesson was structured in 3 parts.
1. Introduction, quick recap of the basic facts
2. Work with the knowledge organiser to practice the construction and deconstruction of word equations (25 mins)
3. Put everything away, short test.
The lesson was very successful, the boys made good progress with their practice work and boys who found the work difficult were well supported. In the test that followed 22 boys got 6/10 or more (out of a class of 23).
So why was it memorable?
This lesson was a memorable learning/teaching experience for me as it was trying something completely new. I had previously got very frustrated when boys wouldn’t just look back in their books for previous notes to help them and would give up too easily. I also realised that the act of looking back in their books has a higher cognitive load and flicking between pages can lead to transcription errors. I felt much more relaxed in the lesson knowing that those boys who lack confidence and may seek reassurance (sometimes unnecessarily) were able to get along with a lot less teacher input, enabling me to spend time with those who really needed help understanding. The lesson was calmer than usual when we are tackling difficult content, the responsibility was on the boys to get on. The success the boys achieved in the test at the end of the lesson gave them a great confidence boost, they could see that the revision strategy using the knowledge organiser had worked and they left the lesson puffed up with pride.
The knowledge organiser sheets have been laminated and used by other teachers in the department intake same way. We’ll keep them for use next year with Year 8 but also bring them out for revision lessons with Year 11s.