Monthly Archives: Apr 2013

To catch a criminal…

At the moment, my science plus class are studying the csi unit. We’ve got crime scene clothing and procedure sorted and have much fun taking and looking at our fingerprints. Today, we were looking at dna.
Now, this is fairly challenging at the best of times, so we kept it simple – ‘it’s the thing that makes you how you are, and you share some with family, which is why you look the same, but no one has the same as you.’
I wanted to look at how we use dna to catch a criminal, so we made our own, very simplified version.


We had 4 colours and gave ourselves 12 lines. Once coloured, I cut them in half, keeping one and returning the other to the pupil. I then picked my criminal dna, which we had to match and find the owner. I am aware of the limitations of this model, but for a class mostly working below nc level 1 I think that they have grasped the ideas that we have our own patterns and that we can match the patterns to catch criminals.


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100 word challenge week #85

A photo op this time 100 word challenge



It wasn’t really expensive was?

What do you mean, the only one of it’s kind? My next door neighbour has one just like it, so you must be able to get another one!

An antique, you say? I’m sure you could get a similar one from the market? No?

Oh, well, put the pieces in a box and I’ll fix it up, bring it back next week

Hmm, well, if it’s that expensive it should be insured. How was I to know? You shouldn’t put these things so close together!

If it’s that precious, you should have locked up!

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100 word challenge week #86

This weeks 100 word challenge had the stimulus ‘…the queue was so long…’



The queue was so long I didn’t think I’d ever get to see him. What seemed like miles away, there he was at the front, signing copies of his latest books. They’d done that trick queue thing, when you thought you were getting nearer the front it doubled back on itself, so you kept passing the same people, also looking worried about not making it to the front before time ran out. We inched forwards, one at a time. It must have looked a bit like a caterpillar moving from above. And then, suddenly, that was it. ‘Sorry folks, it’s time to go.’ How disappointing.

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Two years apart

Matthew Stratford's Photoblog

These two photos are taken two years (and 4 days) apart.  Showing quite well the late arrival of spring this year.


Grand Union Canal from near the Blue Lias


Grand Union Canal from the bridge near the Blue Lias.

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OCR Science Plus in a Special School

I’ve been asked a couple of times now how I use Science Plus (Entry level) in my current school, which is designated SLD/PMLD.  I’ve blogged before about my use of Science Plus at my previous, mainstream school.

As Science Subject Leader, I use the course as a way of stretching our most able students, as they (and more importantly their parents) are delighted that their hard work is recognised at a national level. I’ve been on several courses about this, and found them really useful – go, even if you are in the ‘not sure it’s for us’ stage.

In Y10, the most able scientists (usually functioning at or above p8, with the highest being L2) join the KS4 group. We have two hours a week, and it’s a mixed Y10/11 class. At the moment, I have 10 pupils in it. Once they move on to KS5, they progress to the KS5 class (of course!) which is a mix of Y12/13/14 and currently has 12 students. This means that we do the course over five years, so some careful housekeeping is needed.

For those not familiar with the course, there are 39 units to cover with an equal spread of Bio/Chem/Phys. At the end of each unit there is a short test, worth a maximum of 2 points. There are ‘can do’ tasks, with pupils expected to do at least 10, ranging from one to three points (averaged to a maximum of 10 points) and there is some coursework. Pupils can gain up to 20 marks for this. To gain Bronze (Entry Level 1) pupils need 40 points, Silver (EL 2) 60 points and Gold (EL3) 80 points from a maximum 100. My pupils find coursework challenging and the tests quite hard, so a realistic aim over five years is Bronze. We have had some go on to get Silver, but these pupils tend to be the ones who also attend a Science lesson a week at our nearby mainstream school).

I cover one unit every half term, with revision and the test in the final lesson before the holidays. Pupils get the tests read to them, with staff supporting written answers where necessary. We fit the can-do tasks in as appropriate, aiming to get ten at the maximum of 3 points. To  keep things simple, as pupils move through the school, both groups do the same topic at the same time (this saves on planning and resources too). I try to do a mixture of topics through the year. Although it’s Entry Level, some are clearly more challenging than others, in that they can be slightly abstract, so I’ve opted to do the more practical ones. Pupils are consulted over which topic they would like to do next.

For the coursework, we took half a term. I was given some time with the TAs who support the class to teach them how to carry out the coursework and to ensure that the work was that of the pupils! We did a very similar, ok the same, experiment the week before, then completed a simple plan for the coursework, carried out the experiment and did the conclusion and evaluation over an eight week period. My pupils averaged 13/20 for this, which I felt was a fair reflection.

It’s a great course, and they enjoy it.

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