13 minute read
Using ClassFlow to build a better science classroom
What can be done to win the hearts and minds of pupils in the science classroom? Bring STEM lessons to life using ClassFlow.
Initiatives are underway to inspire more interest in STEM subjects, and promote the benefits of working in scientific fields; with the government, educators, and employers all playing their part. Helping to support teachers as they seek to encourage greater uptake and engagement of scientific subjects, ClassFlow is the free, one-stop-shop for all your educational technology needs.
A lack of expertise in science and technology is one of the biggest threats facing UK business today. What’s more, in 2015, only 14.4% of the UK’s STEM workforce was female, with girls, in particular, still failing to take up STEM subjects at school.
Technology is often put forward as the answer to this crisis. But, while technology is being used as a lesson based tool in science classes, its potential as a means to support the delivery of a modern learning experience has yet to be fully realised (The State of Technology in Education, 2016). So just what can you do to help to win hearts and minds in the science classroom?
Supporting educational improvement, without any financial commitment, ClassFlow’s simple learning platform can help science teachers to better engage pupils; while helping to avert a looming skills gap.
With ClassFlow you can:
- Deliver interactive, collaborative lessons with the dynamic flow of information between teacher and student devices (e.g. ActivPanel, tablets, notebooks, laptops, Chromebooks, etc.)
- Boost student engagement with increased levels of interaction
- Construct virtual experiments which can’t be physically completed in class
- Create graphs and plot data with ClassFlow’s Desmos Calculator
- Access quality teacher-authored resources; saving you time while providing up-to-date scientific lesson plans and other content
- Facilitate inquiry-based learning in the science classroom
- Integrate digital content such as videos into lessons, quickly and easily
- Customise content, tasks, and lessons depending on the ability of each pupil/groups of pupils
- Create interactive polls, quizzes, and team-based activities
- Facilitate collaborative learning and create jigsaw groups
- Share learning in real-time with the whole classroom, increasing class discussion and participation
- Introduced flipped learning.
How it Works
1) Use ClassFlow cards to boost student engagement
As well as being able to build and share standard lesson content, with ClassFlow you can add a full range of supporting resources, such as videos, websites, etc. to your lessons.
For example, biology teachers can embed interactive HTML websites such as The Biodigital Human; accessing a 3D map of the human body and making it easy to visualise and understand anatomy.
Once added to a lesson card, such resources can be sent to student devices for increased levels of interaction, with the ability to annotate over a website to highlight a discussion point, then ‘wipe’ when ready to move on.
ClassFlow could also be used to construct virtual experiments which can’t be physically completed in class for whatever reason. With the growth in astrophysics and general space-based science you could add real excitement to your lessons!
Find out more about how to use lesson content to increase engagement with ClassFlow
2) Create graphs and plot data with ClassFlow’s Desmos Calculator
With ClassFlow’s Desmos Calculator science teachers and students can also add graph functions, plot tables of data, evaluate equations, explore transformations, and more.
To add the calculator to a card in lesson builder:
- Select a card in Lesson Builder or Lesson Presenter
- Select the Toolbox icon to open the toolbox
- Select Calculator to add to the card. The calculator uses the entire card so multiple calculators cannot be placed on a card
- Type your expression in the expression list bar. As you are typing your expression, the calculator will immediately draw your graph on the graph paper
- Select the next row to add another expression to the list or select the + to see additional options
- Select the cog to edit your list
- Select Save to save the calculator settings
- Select << to hide your list and >> to unhide
- Select the Trashcan icon to delete the calculator from the card entirely.
TIP: If you try to add a calculator to a card that already has an object on it, a new card will be added with the calculator. No other objects can be added to a card with the calculator. The calculator can be sent when polling students during the delivery of a lesson.
3) Access teacher-authored content in ClassFlow Marketplace
In fast-paced subjects such as science, out-of-date content can be a huge problem for teachers; particularly when trying to keep pupils engaged. ClassFlow’s collaborative cloud-based platform has responded to this deficit with Marketplace, opening up a whole new way for you to access resources and share ideas.
Finding content in ClassFlow Marketplace is easy; simply search for ‘STEM’ to bring up a good variety of resources and/or filter by subject and resource type.
With a range of pre-existing resources – including whole lesson plans – you can save time by copying and editing someone else’s trusted content, and using it in your classroom. Content is reviewed by fellow teachers, with these scores linking back to the teacher’s profile, so it’s easy to see who is creating quality resources.
4) Use instant polling to help keep lessons interesting
By asking questions and developing lines of enquiry that combine prior knowledge and real-world scientific observations, teachers can add a new level of interaction to lessons. Facilitating active participation by pupils and instant assessment by teachers, ClassFlow also allows you to collate whole class responses to such questions, at the moment of learning, in real time.
Aged 10-11, 72% of girls, and 75% of boys state that they are learning interesting things in science. By age 15-16, this has reduced to 37% and 48% respectively.
Immediately identifying and addressing any gaps in knowledge – both at an individual and class level – you can then tailor lessons to the real needs of each pupil, providing the stimulus needed to help keep students engaged.
You can choose from a range of poll types in ClassFlow:
This type of poll allows pupils to interact with teacher created cards. Alternatively, students can use the camera on their devices to take pictures. For example, photographs outlining the steps of an experiment being completed in real-time.
Students can label their images and send these cards to the teacher by selecting Submit. This allows pupils to reflect and respond to practical lab experiments.
The teacher then has the ability to view all student contributions in results viewer. They can also select a pupil’s card once submitted, and click to add this to the lesson. By sharing pupil cards with the whole class; teachers can build on a student’s contribution and further stimulate ideas and opinions.
With creative polls, pupils can also draw, move and manipulate objects, e.g. sequencing scientific methods, labelling diagrams, interacting with pictures, building atomic models, ordering planets, etc.
Word Seed Poll
This type of poll allows pupils to respond to questions with words or phrases to create idea clusters, associations, knowledge maps, thought-showers etc. In science-based classrooms, word seed polls are often used to gather student understanding of concepts such as elements, organs, calculations, types, contents, theories, vocabulary, diseases, organisms, etc.
To complete a poll, students enter a word or phrase and select Submit. Pupils can send as many responses as they like. Repeated responses are automatically grouped together; others can be grouped by dragging and dropping.
Providing a quick way of gathering an overview of student knowledge, word seed polls can help you to identify any misunderstandings, and any necessary adjustments based on new scientific evidence. Teachers can use the information gained via word seed polls to identify further questions to be raised for discussion.
Students can use text polls to reflect on processes, results, etc., to evaluate the reliability of scientific methods, and to suggest possible improvements. Students simply enter text and select Submit. Teachers can share these results with the whole class; further stimulating ideas and opinions.
Multiple Choice Polls
You choose how many options to present in a multiple choice question. Once students select an option, their response is sent automatically. You can then share these results with the whole class; further stimulating ideas and opinions.
You can use this tool to gauge student opinions on a topic . You start a scale poll by selecting Agreement, Confidence or Generic 1-5. You then verbally ask a question or present an issue to your class, and explain the answer options. To respond, students simply select an option and submit their answer to you via ClassFlow.
Every teacher knows that emotion has a huge impact on the overall learning experience, but understanding the varying emotional needs of pupils can prove difficult. Traditionally, many teachers use ‘Thumbs up, Thumbs down’ (up = understand, side =mostly understand but could use a review, down = need help). But, by using the confidence option in a scale poll, teachers can quickly gauge how their class is feeling at any point during a lesson and address any issues.
Other types of ClassFlow polls include:
- True/False. Students select True or False. Their response is sent automatically
- Yes/No/Don’t know. Students select an option. Their response is sent automatically
- Number. Students enter a number and select Submit.
By immediately identifying and addressing any gaps in knowledge – both at an individual and class level – ClassFlow polls allow you to tailor your lessons to the real needs of each pupil.
5) Use inquiry-based learning in the science classroom
In inquiry-based classrooms, pupils don’t wait for the teacher to provide answers. Instead, they are encouraged to seek solutions, think, and problem solve. So it’s no wonder that inquiry-based learning is proving popular in science education, with teachers posing questions, challenges and scenarios, rather than just presenting established facts.
Having kids engage in inquiry-based science lessons really provides them with a way to explore on their own. It removes the teacher as somebody who is providing them with information that they need to memorize. And instead, what the kids are really doing is they’re experiencing, they’re discovering as they go. And that’s what real scientists do. Ian Schwartz, science teacher
ClassFlow helps to facilitate inquiry-based classrooms – delivering a deeper understanding of what each student knows and understands, and what they don’t.
For example, with ClassFlow, students don’t have to listen passively to instruction. Instead, they can create things like their own lab experiments – share these with their classmates- and explain their reasoning. Pupils become active producers of content instead of just consumers.
TIP: Consider creating fun interactive activities to consolidate learning and check levels of pupil understanding. These could include:
- Timelines (e.g. scientific exploration)
- Matching (e.g. cell parts to function)
- Sequencing (e.g. steps in a process)
- Crosswords (e.g. to check the understanding of something).
6) Use ClassFlow to facilitate collaborative learning
One way that ClassFlow can help you to create a more collaborative learning environment in the science classroom is through the creation of jigsaw groups.
Used in real-life lab investigations and the discussion of scientific papers, jigsaw groups allow students to share expertise and gather information from classmates who have completed a different task. For example, if you want students to learn about the carbon cycle you might get one person in each group to look at:
- Where does this process occur in the biosphere and geosphere?
- What is the correct chemical equation to describe the process?
- What is the rate of the process, with correct units?
- What is the residence time of carbon in the reservoir that leads to this process?
- How does this process affect or control atmospheric CO2?
Once each student is finished researching their particular topic, the group is brought together to present their findings and ask each other questions.
Jigsaw groups are a tried and tested approach in the scientific community and can help pupils get to grips with research, peer support, and the complexities of working as part of a team.
Tip: Form expert sub-groups with one student from each jigsaw group joining other pupils who have been assigned the same segment. These temporary groups can share and discuss their findings, before reporting back to their jigsaw group.
Find out more about how to create groups and foster collaboration with ClassFlow
7) Use videos to increase engagement
Students routinely use video and image sharing applications such as Instagram and YouTube. Therefore, when seeking to boost engagement in science classes, it makes sense for you to use visual mediums within your lessons.
Videos of concepts can be sent to groups for discussion then fed back to whole class via a creative card. For example a chemical reaction video with pupils asked to identify the process, variables etc. to its success or failure. As well as asking students to make predictions using scientific knowledge and understanding, you can also prompt them to offer suggestions to success for a failed experiment. You can even record class experiments etc. and embed these on cards to share and discuss.
Find out more about how to add video to lessons in ClassFlow
8) Use ClassFlow Desktop to bring science lessons to life
ClassFlow Desktop makes it easy to add interactivity to your lessons; with the ability to annotate over the top of any program. To download ClassFlow Desktop you can use one of these two methods:
Before logging into your account:
- Select More
- Select ClassFlow Desktop
- Choose the download link for Windows or Mac
- Wait for your download to complete and install.
While logged in to your account:
- Select Classes
- Select Learn More
- Find the ClassFlow Desktop Information box and select Learn More
- Choose the download link for Windows or Mac
- Wait for your download to complete and install.
Once the application is downloaded, to use the Desktop tool:
- Select Desktop if you are not already in this mode
- Select Pen
- Start annotating or select Pen again to change the colour or width, or to select the Highlighter tool
- Select Clear All Annotations to clear the display or select the Eraser to selectively remove annotations.
Once you have added your annotations, you can send a snapshot of the screen to students, In addition, before removing annotations, you can select Capture Screen to take an image of your desktop to use later. The image is automatically saved to your ClassFlow Desktop folder in My Resources. The folder will be named according to the class the session was delivered to and the date of the session.
TIP: Using the computer’s camera as a visualiser can help to ensure that everyone in your class has an equal opportunity to view and understand practical lessons. With ClassFlow Desktop, annotations can be made on top of the recording/image at any point. ClassFlow Instant Whiteboard can also be used to record notes etc. that can be shared and viewed; either by particular individuals, or the whole class.
9) Use ClassFlow Whiteboard to create collaborative science classrooms
Rather than being a one-user device, Instant Whiteboards foster student collaboration. For example, teachers can create flashcards using images and text, with pupils challenged to match images of planets or chemical element formulas to their name. Instant Whiteboards also offers pupils the ability to send work directly to their teacher for instant inclusion in lessons. Giving you a blank canvas to write on, you can turn ClassFlow’s Instant Whiteboard into an interactive digital canvas, promoting deeper learning and engagement.
Find out more about running an Instant Whiteboard session with ClassFlow
10) Introduce flipped learning methods
ClassFlow allows learning to take place beyond the classroom, delivering content that students can access anytime, anywhere.
By logging into ClassFlow pupils can:
- Access lessons and assignments outside the classroom
- Complete assignments or assessments at their own pace
- Save assignments or tasks to be resumed where they left off
- Add comments to assignments and communicate with their teacher and fellow pupils.
Find out more about why Flipped Learning is so popular in schools.
Easy to use for both teachers and pupils alike, ClassFlow is the comprehensive go-to platform to build a better science classroom. Increasing the depth of student engagement, making teaching more interactive, and learning more fun, ClassFlow is a modern day enablement tool that enriches current learning methods. But more than this, when it comes to science and other STEM subjects, ClassFlow is also helping pupils to understand complex topics and theories.
A modern day enablement tool – designed with teachers in mind – ClassFlow is providing genuine answers to common teaching challenges; while helping to meet the needs of learners and employers alike.
Sign-up to try out ClassFlow today and uncover the benefits for yourself – it’s free!