Welcome! ~ Sonia Hankova ~ Education/Art/Science ~ E-Mail: sonia.hankova@gmail.com ~ Phone: +61 425 703 860

Edu Blog

Developing sequential learning programs and creative and engaging lessons

At Methodist Ladies' College (2014) I applied my skills in developing and delivering whole units of work: Astronomy, Health and Nutrition, Biological and Chemical sciences, including activities and assessment tasks that are in line with the AusVELS Science Curriculum, address multiple domains and cater to differentiated learning. These were based on careful considerations of how students learn, understanding their developmental characteristics as well as on my knowledge and understanding of the content, and how to best deliver it. 

Year 7 Science: Astronomy

In Year 7 Astronomy unit I developed an assessment activity that utilised Solar System Scope software coupled by custom worksheets (created in InDesign – with visual elements and follow up questions, see link to Plant Grid below) that served to guide students in finding information about the various bodies of the solar system and structure their responses – facilitating the development of research skills, organising and analysing information, synthesising new knowledge, as well as developing ICT skills. This activity was popular with the students, easily modified to suit individual learners and welcomed by resident science teachers.



Planet Grid Activity: students used Solar System Scope to complete the table and answer a series of related questions. They were asked to finish the task as homework. Advanced students were provided suggestions on how to extend this activity – by filling in specific information in the grid e.g. 5 curious facts about each planet. Lower students were to complete the grid in simplified form. As I was teaching two Year 7 classes on different days, I would typically evaluate the first lesson by seeking mentor feedback, reflecting on my practice and subsequently made improvement and modifications to the content/activities/teaching strategies during my delivery the second time around. I would correct and evaluate all student worksheets (related to this unit) on ongoing timely basis, in order to better understand and recognise their strengths and weaknesses, hence to be able to better cater for individuals and their needs in the future. The Planet Grid was a graded assessment tasks that counted towards students' final grade for this unit; I communicated all data to my mentor and additionally provided all students with written feedback on their work. The full PDF version of this worksheet, that contains questions related to the topic can be accessed here: Planet Grid

Solar System Scope software by INOVE  is an online 3D simulation of solar system and night sky. It allows students to utilise highly visual and engaging ICT resource whilst embarking on a journey of discovery. This exceptional free interactive 3D model of the solar system is an ideal accompaniment for the science classroom, specifically for the study of astronomy (it is of course essential that students have access to computers). There are three main modes – heliocentric, geocentric and panoramic. The heliocentric mode allows the user to double click on a planet and explore the solar system as viewed from that planet. The panoramic view of the solar system not only shows the perspective of an observer in a specified location but also includes the constellations in their astronomically correct position in the sky. There are several options and students can find detailed information related to orbit, planetary system or structure. Access here: Solar System Scope

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Links to theory: I am a highly creative and multimodal learner and have found this beneficial when structuring learning programs in order to keep teaching strategies varied and to better cater for individual learning styles of my students. I am very fond of Fleming's (2001) VAK Model for its simplicity – I strive to incorporate visual, auditory and kinaesthetic instruction and learning tasks in all my lessons. I believe that a combination of all three is necessary to engage all our senses and for deep and long lasting learning to occur. In my approach I highly gravitate towards constructivist ideas of Dewey, Bruner and Kolb while keeping in mind Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theories – each and every individual is different and the notion of intelligence based on I.Q. is far too limited. I think it is important to teach our students how to think, not what to think – structuring teaching and learning programs and setting goals that focus on the development of critical thinking – creating, evaluating, analysing i.e. Bloom's Taxonomy Model.

I feel that this unit of work is exemplary is demonstrating my content knowledge, planning sequential leaning programs based on understanding of students social and intellectual characteristics as well as how they learn, catering to students individualised needs (I developed several extension activities/tasks for high achieving students, these can be accessed in the resources section on the right) and utilising a range of visual, hands on, practical as well as linguistic approaches to learning and teaching (e.g. experiments, individual and collaborative research tasks/activities), and ICT that supports the content knowledge with sophisticated simulations and allows students to visualise concepts that are typically beyond our immediate levels of perception without the help of science and technology.

Astronomy– Links to Principles of Learning and Teaching:

PoLT 1. The learning environment is supportive and productive, by: building positive relationships with my students - getting to know them, who they are and how they learn through continued questioning, informal assessments and individual interactions; promoting a culture of respect through collaborative and cooperative work in a student centred learning environment – group/paired experiments, activities and tasks; utilising strategies that promote students' self confidence and willingness to take risks without the prospects of failure – informal assessments, classroom discussions, celebrating and sharing success;  providing structured support (verbal and non-verbal), valuing effort and providing opportunities for recognition of student work – sharing and providing feedback (individual and classroom wide) .

PoLT 2. The learning environment promotes independence, interdependence and self motivation, by: using strategies that build skills of productive collaboration; encouraging students to take responsibility for their learning – self directed research tasks and activities.

PoLT 3. Students needs, backgrounds, perspectives and interests are reflected in the learning program, by: building on students prior experiences, knowledge and skills – diagnostic assessment; using teaching strategies responsive to students needs, values and interests – self-directed research/learning, contemporary content knowledge; using a range of of strategies that support different ways if thinking and learning – ICT, experiments, research tasks, catering to diverse learning styles.

PoLT 4. Students are challenged and supported to develop deep levels of thinking and application, by: planning sequential learning programs that promote sustained leaning that builds over time and emphasises connections between ideas – lessons that tie to one another and build on concepts; promoting substantive classroom discussions; allowing students to work collaboratively; sharing ideas and opinions, providing feedback.

PoLT 5. Assessment practiced are an integral part of teaching and learning, by: providing frequent constructive feedback to support further learning; encouraging reflection, peer and self assessment – worksheet questions correction; using evidence from assessment to evaluate effectiveness of content and delivery and to inform future planning and lesson progress – particularly when teaching the same lesson multiple times.

PoLT 6. Learning connects strongly with communities and practice beyond the classroom, by: supporting students to engage with contemporary knowledge in Astronomy, utilising ICTs that reflect current advancements of science and technology.

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