One website - many uses
Greta Dromgool of Berkley Normal Middle School uses the interactive Label the heart as an alternative to dissecting a sheep heart. The interactive appeals to students’ natural play tendencies, provides feedback and encourages students to keep trying until they get the correct answers.
Greta Dromgool, a specialist science teacher at Berkley Normal Middle School, uses the Science Learning Hub on a number of different levels.
At the very simplest level, Greta provides links to the Hub on the school’s ultranet. “I have students who want to keep up to date with the latest research or take their topic learning a little bit further,” Greta says. “The links direct students to the NZ Research articles and help them learn something beyond the classroom.”
On a more hands-on level, Greta chooses materials from across the Hub to fit into various programmes of work. With over 330 activities on the site, there is plenty to choose from. She says, “The site has great activities that are related [to my topics] and interesting for the students. Science Learning Hub resources definitely increase engagement by students. It’s good to be able to access visuals and instructions. These enable me to facilitate the students’ learning. It’s good to be able to go on the site and find the practical activities that are written in a way that I can access them easily. This means that my students get to do more practical learning.”
Greta appreciates that the activities are downloadable as Word files so she can adapt them to suit her students’ needs. One of her favourite activities is Introduction to DNA. Greta used text and photos from the activity to make up a set of instructions. These are laminated and used for group work. The activity suggests students extract DNA from tomatoes, but Greta adapts the activity to use whatever fruit is in season.
Interactives are also another type of SLH resource she finds useful. “Interactives are valuable for a number of reasons. When we were dissecting sheep hearts, I used the Label the heart interactive as an alternative to dissection.” Students also use the interactive for revision.
It’s good to be able to go on the site and find the practical activities that are written in a way that I can access them easily. This means that my students get to do more practical learning.
Greta says that her students really like the technology side of the interactives and animations. “They have a natural play tendency with animations.” An additional benefit is that, by using the interactives, her students are encouraged to keep trying until they get things right. “If they get something wrong, it’s no big deal because they are not committed in the same way as when they write things down. It doesn’t matter how many attempts it takes the students to complete them. The interactives provide feedback and encourage them to try again.”
On a deeper level, Greta uses the interactives to teach her students about diagrams. She says, “They need to understand that diagrams are different from the real thing. I like to use a real artefact, like the sheep heart, along with a model, photos and the interactive.” Greta endeavours to help students make connections between an artefact and diagrams. She also uses these situations to deal with potential misconceptions students may have.
A final level of use is a personal one. Greta enjoys simply browsing through the Hub. “Going onto the Science Learning Hub is like getting a nice new glossy magazine. Everything is so beautifully presented.”