This blog has been fairly quiet recently; I have spent every spare minute updating the student notes on the website and feel very proud of my work. I don’t know if anyone else is going to notice mind, but then I guess that’s not the point.
For each chapter I have included all past exam questions, which can be cross-referenced with the relavant marking-scheme which is also included. Also included is a copy of the associated extracts from the syllabus – this gives the students the responsibility of checking up on me to ensure I have everything covered before moving on to the next chapter.
There is also plenty of “extra-credit” material tucked in at the end to help address many of the conceptual difficulties which students (and teachers!) have; these also help to set the historical and social context of many of the discoveries. Science is after all a very human activity, dispite what you might think from the text-books and syllabus.
I would hope that students outside of my own school would find these useful, particulary those who don’t have a specialised Physics teacher should find it to be a useful resourse to help them help themselves.
Some would see the decision to allow the students to see their test in advance to be somehow ‘cheating’, but for me it helps overcome one of the biggest obstacles facing many students who may not be in the top bracket; they simply don’t know what to learn. I have found with this new approach that hard-working students who are of average ability have gone from 50% to 75% since I introduced the option. It doesn’t change those at the top; the A-students still get their A’s, while at the other end those determined to do as little as possible still continue to achieve results which reflect this.
But I’m delighted with this practice. We spend at least one class and maybe two going over these questions at the end of each chapter and before I give them the test. Then I simply pick ten questions from the list, while altering the numbers in the maths questions. After seven years of leaving-cert questions (2002 – 2009) there is a pretty comprehensive bank of questions there, so I don’t believe it is giving students an inflated sense of their own worth.
But as an incentive to prepare for class tests and greater student participation it is working like a dream. I’m not too proud to say that I’m thrilled with my work!