🖐🏻 The Book in Five Sentences
This book is a complete guide to teaching and learning in secondary science. Adam Boxer gets into the nitty gritty of all things science-related ranging from curriculum design to pedagogy to assessment. Although nearly 400 pages long, the book is straightforward to read - even for non-specialists such as me - and is really well put together. The ideas in this book could be applied to many other areas and sectors of teaching, or at least provide food for thought for humanities or arts subjects.
I loved reading this book: it was like an insight into Adam's mind where he explains his thoughts and reasons behind lots of the detail of his practice. This is great for someone like me, who likes to understand both the theory and what it looks like in a specific context.
📖 Who Should Read It?
The book is (rather obviously) aimed at secondary science teachers. As a primary teacher in Year 6, I found a lot of the issues Adam brings up in his book to be relevant across the curriculum and especially in Key Stage 2, so I think primary colleagues would benefit from reading this book too.
🍕 Actionable Takeaways
Be highly specific when designing the curriculum in terms of new content and prerequisite knowledge.
Carefully sequence the curriculum to build on prior (prerequisite) knowledge and use retrieval practice strategically throughout the sequence.
Challenge can be understood in terms of task quantity and abstraction of the content related to pupils' domain knowledge and the level of support they have in the learning task.
Retrieval practice is critical to curriculum design, especially for content to be remembered. Teachers should consider the types of questions they ask during retrieval practice and the types of responses they expect: this affects the type of feedback necessary during review.
For explanations to be effective, they need to move from the familiar to the unfamiliar.
Examples should be sequenced throughout the curriculum so they help pupils gain an understanding of what a concept is and what it isn't.
Some concepts are inherently 'harder' to teach and learn due to their level of abstraction: this affects how the content should be taught.
Vocabulary which is unfamiliar needs to be taught explicitly throughout the sequence so that it does not add to pupils' cognitive load when being used in explanations.
Think about understanding as a spectrum - we all go through stages of understanding, from things 'making sense' to becoming more embedded and usable.
As pupils' understanding grows, adapt challenge by increasing the quantity of a task or decreasing the level of support: challenge should increase as the knowledge and understanding becomes more secure.
Practical work is demanding and needs careful consideration about how it will be implemented so that pupils' learning isn't hindered.
💬 Top Quotes that Resonated
This issue has been compounded by a national curriculum (NC) that has low specificity - it does not provide specific information but talks in more general terms.
We call that your 'pedagogical content knowledge' and I generally frame this as 'the content you know about your subject that a professional working in the discipline wouldn't know'.
Play to the content, not the bell
Check out the book on Amazon (Affiliate Link)