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The Teaching, Learning and Creativity (TLC) model for science
ABSTRACT The Teaching, Learning and Creativity (TLC) model suggests a wide variety of activities in three different phases. In the Teaching Phase, the teacher will discuss, demonstrate key experiments and provide data for pupils to interpret. In the Learning Phase, pupils will analyse text, do a simple test and write an essay. In the Creativity Phase, pupils will plan their own experiments, carry them out and report. Pupils are also expected to write creatively. Interested readers are now invited to do action research to test this model.
I recently read about the success of Finland and Singapore in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests and wondered about their curriculum. A search on the internet revealed that the high scores were due to raising the attainment of all abilities and not just the most able. The reasons for PISA success in various countries are summarised in Figure 1.
Projects are an important factor in pupils success in Finland as they develop reading
and writing skills. In Singapore, the teaching is traditional and most parents supplement their childrens education by paying for after-school private revision classes. A pupil may spend 13 hours a day in study and also work at weekends. The Singapore government, although proud of its achievement, is now worried that its students lack creativity. I decided to design a model with activities that promote pupil learning and creativity and also implement the objectives of both the English National Curriculum and examination boards.
Figure 1 Essential requirements for pupil learning
Figure 1. (124x75mm)
Effective discipline in
High teacher expectations!
Good pupil motivation!
Skilled reading for
understanding! Working on projects and
Strong parental support!
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The TLC model
The Teaching, Learning and Creativity (TLC) model involves a Teaching Phase, a Learning Phase and a Creativity Phase. Summary details are shown in Figure 2.
The components of the model are all well-known and tested techniques, which Wellington and Ireson (2012) discuss fully. I imagine all teachers will have used these techniques at various times. There will also be a mixture of active and passive activities for the pupil, involving listening, reading and writing, and planning and performing experiments. The strategies involved are shown in Figure 3.
The Teaching PhaseThe model advocates basic observations, setting a question and the evolution of the design of a controlled experiment using a suitable means of measurement. The teacher could show one or more full experiments. Alternatively, only the start of the experiment could be shown, followed by a discussion on how measurements can be
made. The teacher appropriately introduces the worksheets with laboratory data, challenging pupils to reach their own conclusions. The teacher will discuss the evidence, suggest explanations, emphasise major concepts and summarise the topic with what, where, when, how and why questions. The pupil will now have knowledge and understanding and sufficient experience to allow the planning of one or more variations of an experiment in the Creativity Phase.
The next part of the Teaching Phase involves the distribution of Topic Notes on paper for each pupil to read. These should be written by the teacher with the reading age of the pupil in mind. The English Department should supply this information and it will also help the teacher to support the weakest readers. Providing written Topic Notes also means that copying from the whiteboard is now not necessary. The time saved here can be used in later phases.
The Learning PhaseThe pupil will now be expected to analyse the Topic Notes for key words, definitions and major ideas
The Teaching, Learning and Creativity (TLC) model for science Rotheram
Figure 2 The Teaching, Learning and Creativity Phases
l The teacher is to involve the pupils in observations, measurement techniques and the methodology of key experiments which provide evidence for the topic.
l Short practical demonstrations are used to illustrate methodology.l The teacher is to use evidence (appropriate experimental data on worksheets)
to challenge pupils to reach conclusions.l The teacher is to discuss and summarise the topic and provide Topic Notes for
use in the Learning Phase.
l Pupils are to analyse the Topic Notes and show the key words, definitions and major ideas using three coloured highlighting pens (a DART technique).
l Pupils are to match key words to definitions, under test conditions.l Pupils are to construct a mind map and then write a short essay under test
conditions.l Pupils are to answer a small number of structured questions on problem
l Teacher and pupils are to plan a new experiment using the equipment and measuring methods already introduced in the Teaching Phase.
l Pupils are to carry out the experiment and provide a written and oral report.l Pupils are to read and analyse the Creativity Notes provided by the teacher. A
short summary essay and presentation completes the activity.l Pupils are to complete one or more of the Creativity Tasks provided by the
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or concepts. This revision activity with coloured pens is an important active process, which led me to develop my ability to pick out the important information in text. It also gave me the confidence to read and understand complex scientific papers at university. The activity of underlining text is now called a DART (directed activity related to text) and is believed to help children to read for meaning.
PISA in Focus no. 30 (OECD, 2013) indicates that pupils in the best-performing countries often summarise information. PISA research indicates that the UK has average reading performance and below average use of effective strategies. PISA states that using strategies may raise performance by 20%. Revision strategies such as mind maps, summary essays and answering problem-solving questions in the TLC model may help too.
The next step involves the matching of key words and definitions under test conditions. This is followed by a writing exercise involving an essay, to detect how well learning has been achieved. I suggest a short essay rather than a multiple-choice test because an essay immediately shows the pupils knowledge and understanding. Writing frequent essays also improves scientific literacy.
Writing essays is a high-level skill and the pupils should be introduced to the idea of a mind map with questions such as What, Where, When, How and Why. This format will focus the essay
construction and then ensure the inclusion of the appropriate key words.
Essay marking need not be considered an onerous task and in fact the comments added to the essay should promote better learning, especially if the pupil is expected to improve it for homework. The average and less able pupil may struggle with this activity and high expectations and support will be needed in the classroom. If reading levels can be improved through such practice then pupils will be better prepared to read and understand examination questions. Examination papers should then be full of answers rather than being left mainly blank.
Another activity involves working through a small number of structured questions on problem solving. These could be written by the teacher or taken from suitable past examination questions. PISA sample questions are available online (see Websites) and they are of interest because they usually involve a considerable amount of reading and questions are often presented in novel situations. Another PISA emphasis is the fair test and the controlled experiment.
The Creativity PhaseThe pupil will look again at the apparatus and measuring instruments used in the Teaching Phase and then plan an experiment. The teacher will be there to guide and give support in the planning of a new experiment, and many will probably
Figure 3 Strategies within the TLC model
Rotheram The Teaching, Learning and Creativity (TLC) model for science
http://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisaproducts/pisainfocus/pisa in focus n30 (eng)--Final.pdfhttp://pisa-sq.acer.edu.au/
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ask a new question such as What is the effect of X on Y? Pupils will then be responsible for writing down the plan and considering safety aspects before seeking permission to proceed from the teacher. After carrying out the experiment, the pupil will be expected to write a report with Aim, Method, Results and Conclusions sections. Some pupils enjoy making an oral report and five minutes seems a sensible use of time per person for this activity. It may be that there is only sufficient time for a few to report for each topic.
The next part of the Creativity Phase involves a mini-project (creative writing). This could be on topics such as famous scientists, genetic diseases, global warming, nuclear power and genetically modified crops. Pupils are to read some Creativity Notes written by the teacher (these should have a very basic sentence structure, so that average and less able pupils can read them effectively). These are to include text with illustrations such as photos, data and graphs. This is preferable to pupils being expected to find books or search the internet and then read text that has been written for the reading
age of an adult. A video could also be provided. The pupils will be able to use coloured pens to analyse the information.
After the Creativity Notes have been edited, they could then be used to produce a mind map and a short summary essay in the classroom. If time permits, pupils may wish to continue and use IT (Word, Pages, iBooks Author, Keynote, PowerPoint, etc.) to produce an illustrated document or presentation. Oral presentations could also be included.
Creativity Tasks could also be provided to extend the range of creative activities, so that pupils can apply, produce, discover, compare and contrast, relate, invent, imagine and plan (see examples in Figure 4). After a reasonable amount of time, prompt sheets could be provided for pupils who struggle with the task.
Further commentsl The less able It may be said that writing
up practical work and writing essays disadvantages the least able in a mixed ability class and that some who are good at practical
Figure 4 Examples of Creativity Tasks
The Teaching, Learning and Creativity (TLC) model for science Rotheram
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work in science may struggle. A wide variety of DART techniques may be more suitable. These will help to improve reading skills. They will also improve general literacy and the ability to answer questions in examinations. The Learning Support Department in the school should be able to help with DARTS.
l Marking The essays will need to be annotated with helpful remarks and given a score. In many schools, multiple-choice questions are used at the end of each topic. Doing two types of assessment would be unnecessary and multiple-choice questions should probably only be used in end-of-year tests. In Finland, a pupil who fails is asked to repeat the end-of-year test to ensure a high standard. Teachers also tell the pupils that they could be kept down for a year, but this rarely happens.
l Technician involvement Technicians should not be inconvenienced if pupils are doing a variation to a set experiment, as the teacher will only have introduced an experiment that has multiple sets of measuring instruments, glassware, etc. The teacher may ask pupils to write down a list for the technician to supply in the next lesson.
l Whole-class experiments Teacher-directed whole-class experiments with instructions are absent from the TLC model. This is deliberate because a series of such experiments is very time-consuming and the actual interpretation of data usually only takes up a small proportion of time. Pupils following the TLC model will still have the opportunity to do practical work in science but it will be to their own design. Whole-class activity could be included in a special topic at the beginning of each year to introduce pupils to more complex aspects of the scientific method.
l Primary Young pupils will be introduced to a variety of observation and measuring instruments such as the microscope, stopwatch, thermometer, ruler, quadrat, scales and litmus paper, and these will all allow the TLC model to be used. The new National Curriculum has notes and guidance for teachers. At times, practical work is not suggested and the practical TLC model above could be changed to a theory TLC model. The Teaching Phase would then involve only a teacher discussion (perhaps supported by a completion DART worksheet)
and Topic Notes. The Learning Phase would not be altered. The Creativity Phase would only involve the Creativity Notes, a summary essay, presentations and Creativity Tasks.
l Lower secondary Pupils will be introduced to a wider variety of measuring instruments in different topics. This will again allow practical and theory TLC models to be used.
l Upper secondary Pupils will be introduced to more-complex measuring instruments and apparatus. This will again allow practical and theory TLC models to be used.
l A-level This again involves a significant amount of theory and practical work so both practical and theory TLC models can be used.
l Action research As a retired teacher I do not now have the opportunity to test the TLC model with children and would like to suggest that those who are interested might conduct some simple action research. This could include various science topics, various abilities, boy/girl, primary, early secondary, biology, chemistry, physics, homework mini-projects, the use of IT apps, etc. The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) website provides several downloadable guides to action research fill in the expression of interest form to get more advice. If you wish to report your findings, School Science Review publishes science education notes and major articles. The Science Learning Centres could also find your work interesting and worthy of further distribution.
l Online centre If action research shows TLC to be of value then the next practical step would be to have a central online coordinating centre with a resource database for different topics. The database, which would include a description of the Teaching Phase, Topic Notes, key words, exemplars of pupils essays, Learning Phase structured questions, Creativity Notes, a description of Creativity Phase pupil activities and exemplars of pupils reports, would be built up by contributing schools. Si...