Thoughts about the first lesson
A few weeks ago, we tested a resource for the first time at a lunch time science club. We used the neuroscience lesson, which we taught jointly to about 40 A-level students. It was nice to have each other there for moral support on the first go! It was really enjoyable to deliver the resource to a group of students for a number of reasons:
A student holding a vial with fruit flies
- Firstly, the students were really interested in what we were teaching, they asked a lot of questions at the end of the lesson and also enjoyed the practical elements. They were not only interested about what we had done with the flies in the lesson, but also asking questions about the flies and how they can be used as a powerful research tool in other areas of study, such as genetics.
- Secondly the students were very well behaved, they listened to what we were saying and although they required some prompting, they answered all the questions we asked them.
Before the lesson we were very nervous that we were going to overrun and about the fact that this was the first time delivering this lesson. However, the timing of the lesson worked really well and the responses from the students and the way it ran made us feel confident in the work which we had put into generating the resource.
The only part of the resource which did not go as smoothly as anticipated was the “sensory discrimination task” experiment which we used to introduce to wiring princples of the sensory nervous system. During this experiment, students use two tooth picks and ask the test person whether they sense them as two different entities or as one, when tested on the skin of your arm, hand or elsewhere. There was nothing wrong with the task itself, but we realised too late that we should have demonstrated or enacted the experiment before setting the students off to do it – rather than giving them written instructions which we wrongly assumed to be easy to follow. We therefore generated a little film (see above) which hopefully makes this task easier to explain in future lessons. But, in spite of these teething problems, the responses from students were encouraging – they were very intrigued by the differing thresholds of discrimination across the body and were keen to find out why that was. Our strategy to use this as an engaging starter had definitely worked!
Sophie teaching at the afternoon club.
At the start of the lesson, it was a slight struggle to get some answers from the students, even simple ones like naming the cells of the nervous system. But we feel this was only because of the time restraints we were under – since there was not enough time to let the students come up with answers in groups, and they seemed less keen to share their individual ideas. We would have liked to be able to spend more time on this, but then we would not have been able to get through all planned content. So, in future lessons, we will give more consideration to the balance between time and content. Luckily, as the lesson went on, the students became ever keener to share their thoughts, and towards the end many questions were asked indicating that the students clearly understood what we explained and. This was extremely rewarding to observe!
For the first time delivering a resource and a new practical element, we both feel that it went very well. We gained a lot of confidence through teaching this lesson. We are looking forward to teaching the resource to more classes in the not too distant future, and to eventually get it uploaded on the droso4schools figshare site as a resource for everybody to use and experience!
Sophie and Josh