School and Class Context
The sequence of four science lessons were designed for prep students who study at an independent coeducational school. This school provides education from kindergarten to year 12 across four campuses and it is founded on the principles of the Christian faith as taught by the Lutheran church of Australia. The school’s ICSEA (Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage) is 1083 (ACARA, 2012), which is higher than the Australian average of 1000. There are currently 801 students with 2% and 3% being classed as indigenous and ESL students respectively.
I taught one of the two prep classes, which comprised of 22 students in total with 9 girls and 13 boys. Each class was well supported with teaching resources including a full time teaching aid, cutting-edge ICT resources and a variety of learning toys, puzzles and books. The majority of children were generally well-behaved and motivated but sometimes had mild disruptive behaviours such as calling out without hands up, whispering and getting easily distracted. The above conditions were taken into consideration when designing my lessons.
Lesson Sequence Context and Design Explanation
Currently the school is experiencing the curriculum transition. The Australian Curriculum was introduced into schools state-wide in January 2012 and will gradually replace the Queensland curriculum by 2014. At prep level, where the Australian Curriculum does not cover learning areas, teachers will continue to use the EYCG (Early Years Curriculum Guidelines). In terms of the prep science course, students are required to develop a basic science understanding and science inquiry skills (P-2 Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Advice and Guidelines, 2012).
The sequence of lessons were designed as the first four lessons of a science course for the unit called “Movers and Shakers”, which required students to understand and investigate the human and non-human movements. Taking students’ age and cognitive development into consideration, tasks, questions and assessments were designed to focus mainly on the knowledge and comprehension level, which are at the lower levels of cognitive complexity in Bloom’s taxonomy (Churchill et al. 2011, 261-262). Most tasks required students to observe and identify the information they had experience with. Based on their current understanding of the information, students had to demonstrate their skills of prediction and description.
Supported by the notion that early learning areas of the EYCG should be correlated and learning is integrated across all early learning areas (P-2 Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Advice and Guidelines, 2012), the interdisciplinary integration approach was used to organize the curriculum around the common leanings across disciplines. The aim was for the children to learn things in relation to movements while improving their literacy and drawing skills as well as learning science concepts and skills while dancing, drawing and writing sentences and numbers (dates). Basic productive pedagogies such as connectedness and supportive classroom environment ensured the quality of the lessons. For example, connectedness was created by children bringing their own toys, observing and sharing ideas with peers about how to play with them and why they move as well as observing, experiencing and talking about things related to the movements in their daily life such as swings, monkey bars etc. A supportive classroom environment was created by me explaining and modelling explicitly on quality performance criteria for each lesson.
The Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) approach was employed to suit the students’ learning styles, needs and cognitive development while still matching subject content. As Shulman (1986) noted, PCK illustrates how the subject matter of a particular discipline is transformed for communication with learners. During the lesson planning I attempted to...