Form 5a and 6:
Write notes, with drawings, of a special study you have made.
Briefly explain how electrons, electrical forces, minimizing energy, whole number ratios, and modeling can each be thought of as central to understanding what chemistry is all about.
Similar types of questions about both content, computations, and lab work as in Form 5b
Once exams are completed, the teacher must decide how they inform future decisions about the student’s education. Some questions for the teacher’s reflective practice might be:
- Does the response convey with accuracy the content knowledge?
- Does the response demonstrate confidence and ease (i.e. mastery) with the content knowledge?
- Does the response convey familiarity with the subject?
- Does the response convey personal interest with the subject?
- Does the response demonstrate an understanding of how the content knowledge fits into the “big picture” of the process of science and/or the story of humanity, as appropriate?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then teachers have to decide if and how to respond. For example, if the issue seems to be isolated to the mastery of a single topic or term, then we may need do nothing more than continue to observe the student’s interaction with the subject next term. Only if the topic contained concepts upon which future material will be built, will we need to be sure to remediate in some way. This is more often the case with high school students than with students in the lower forms. Students in the lower forms are not studying science as a discipline yet. They will continue to develop and necessary concepts will come around again. With high school students studying a scientific discipline, remediation may be necessary and you may want to more closely monitor their progress the following term. If the issue seems to be pervasive or chronic, then we will need to troubleshoot.
Some suggestions to assist teachers in problem-solving educational obstacles:
- Journal your own observations about the student’s behavior during a typical science lesson. Narrate from the student’s arrival to the lesson to its conclusion. Notice anything that stands out to you.
- Have a conversation with the student. Does the student enjoy their science books? Do they find their labs interesting? Are they interested in the subject? What has been their favorite topic to learn about in science? What did they like about it? What has been their least favorite? What didn’t they like about it? What would they like to learn about in science? Is there anything about their science lessons that figuratively knocks the steam out of them? What do they think would help this situation?
- What is the atmosphere like during the lesson time? Does it feel natural, comfortable, pleasant? If not, why not? Would a schedule change address any problems with atmosphere? Is greater affection needed to support a healthy atmosphere?
- Has the student had the time necessary to develop familiarity and affection with the Things? If not, consider coming alongside, modeling, and simply experiencing the Things together. If you are unable to do this yourself, you may be able to find a mentor for the student, such as a local naturalist or a more experienced friend.
- Has the student had the opportunity to find personal interest with the subject? If not, consider what the student already enjoys or is curious about. Find books, activities, or resources that connect the subject to the student’s existing interest. Also, consider whether the syllabus strikes the appropriate balance between providing enough information while leaving enough unanswered. Finally, consider whether they are getting an appropriate variety of topics in their syllabus. Some students need a little more than is typical while others need a little less for their given stage in development.
- Is the student capable of the component tasks being asked of him/her most of the time? If not, do these tasks need to be scaffolded or are they developmentally inappropriate for this child? Most curricula are going to assume that cognitive development is tracking as expected with chronological age, but in reality motor skills, working memory, and/or processing abilities may be atypically developing. Mason said that “No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly…” (Home Education p.160) When we see that a child is incapable of specific tasks (even if only in certain situations) or that a child’s behavior is unpredictable, then we need to seek the help of a licensed professional rather than continuing with expectations that are unreasonable for the child. A knowledgeable professional will help to illuminate the child’s strengths and challenges, so that you can scaffold their lessons and support their learning appropriately with respect to their personhood. One example is a student who is unable to grasp “big picture” ideas on their own. They may remember all of the details accurately and apply the concepts with mastery, but are unable to draw connections between the various bits of information to allow for greater meaning. Scaffolding for this cognitive skill can be achieved through our choice in authors, careful composition prompts, and the Grand Conversation without interfering with the work of the Spirit within that student.