This book contains 50 lies taught in the VCE Chemistry course.
These lies include well-meaning simplifications of the truth, mistakes in the textbook, and, in a few extreme cases, blatant falsehoods.
This book isn’t a criticism of the VCE Chemistry course at all. In fact, I just want to highlight the sheer complexity of Chemistry and the need to make sweeping generalisations at every level so it can be comprehensible to our students. This is a legitimate practice called constructivism in pedagogical circles. (Look that up.)
Many of these ‘lies’ taught at VCE level will be debunked by your first-year chemistry lecturers at university.
Here’s a preview of some of the lies mentioned in the book. Check out all 50 by clicking the download link at the bottom of the page.
The content you’re learning now is probably not as true as it seems. Chemistry is a set of models that explain the macro level sometimes at the expense of detail. The more you study Chemistry, the more precise these models become, and they’ll gradually enlighten you with a newfound clarity about the inner workings of our universe. It’s profound.
Rules taught as ‘true’ usually work 90% of the time in this subject. Chemistry has rules, exceptions, exceptions to exceptions, and exceptions to those – you’ll need to peel pack these layers of rules and exceptions like an onion until you reach the core, where you’ll find Physics and Specialist Maths.
Enjoy this book. I hope it emboldens you to question everything you’re told, and encourages you to read beyond the courses you’re taught in school.
“EDF4004 Curriculum and Assessment” is a custom book that contains all the major readings for the Monash University EDF4004 Curriculum and Assessment course as of 2011 (the reading list has since changed, but the general ideas here are still relevant). The publishers have overhauled the formatting to make it consistent, added new page numbers and even a new index for this “custom book”. It’s probably only found in Monash University.
Q: What does “top-heavy” mean?
Good question. In places, this book leaves the classroom and focusses—again—too much on theory. I want practical classroom advice, not classroom theory. I’m a training to be a teacher, but this book seems more tailored either to a philosopher or a Minister of Education. I say “top-heavy” because this book is aimed at those at the top of their profession, not at graduate teachers. I didn’t need to read most of this book.
In this book, you’ll find the following information:
Curriculum Design: This book tells you how to design a curriculum from the top down. Unfortunately, the description is wordy and hard to follow, and our tutorials were much more useful in explaining the curriculum design process than this book. I used this book to make this diagram, but the notes I took in our tutorials were much clearer and more useful.
Gardner’s (8) Multiple Intelligences—be sure to cater to all of these skills when designing assessments and assignments:
(7) Aspects of Quality Learning—check that your assignments and assessments contain all these classroom aspects:
Bloom’s (6-tier) Taxonomy—make sure your assignments and assessments satisfy the following modes of thinking:
While browsing the web, I found a previous Monash University student’s blog (coincidentally, also from 2011), who put some useful study notes online. Check out her site here. Her diagram (titled Appendix 1) combines Bloom’s Taxonomy and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences nicely.
(5) Orientations of a curriculum—Cultural, Personal (see William Kilpatrick), Vocational, Social (see Harold Rugg) and Economic (see David Snedden).
The literature cited in EDF4004 are in overwhelming agreement that there’s been a recent call for “new basics” that take into account the “multi-literacies” that “transcend social boundaries”. Basically, play to every student’s individual strengths, no matter what those strengths are.
(8) Student Masks (by Keefe & Carrington, 2006) — students disguise problems with strange behaviour. Here’s a translation (left = what you see; right = what’s really going on).
Mask of super-competence → student may have reading difficulties
Mask of the clown → has ADHD
Mask of boredom → struggling with focus and studies
Mask of activity (busy doing futile tasks) → struggling to complete the work (stuck)
Mask of helplessness → being ostracised
Mask of invisibility → low self-esteem
Mask of the victim (and bully, too) → talk to student then refer to psychologist
Mask of contempt (“school sucks”) → feels rejected by studies, socially or at home
Remember that these ‘masks’ were devised by Keefe & Carrington, 2006.
Curriculum Process—varied for each student (use a mixture of PEEL techniques)
Page 130 tells us that Aboriginals are doing terribly in Australian secondary schools.
Page 164-5 tell us how peer-assessment and self-assessment are great learning tools but teachers are seldom well-trained enough to implement them properly. In peer-assessment and self-assessment, remember to:
Promote the value of self-reflection
Set targets (or get the students to set themselves targets)
Develop explicit criteria (so students can’t cheat when marking)
Provide practice (students’ self-assessment ability gets better with time)
Page 179 tells us that parents want honest, individualistic, constructive school reports, and longer, better-organised meetings with teachers at parents evenings.
Mirroring Oosterhof somewhat, page 192 reminds us that there are four types of portfolio assessments:
Showcase portfolio (my best work)
Evaluation portfolio (all my work, graded)
Document portfolio (teacher’s secret record)
Process portfolio (student’s own progress reports)
There were only two more surprises in the rest of the book:
(1) Celebrating student achievement can be carried out in the form of brochures, newsletters, in-school displays… and out-of-school displays at (for example) supermarkets and universities. Students displaying their best work in a supermarket (supervised, of course) is a great idea.
(2) ICT can assist student learning. iPads are so ubiquitous now that students would probably rebel if you banned them from schools. Compared to the dazzling, high-resolution graphics on an iPad, a conversation with even the most informative teacher can seem like a bore in comparison. How are we supposed to compete with iPads for a student’s attention? (iPads are marvellous things, but teaching students how to use them specifically for study seems like an arduous task.)
The most useful part of this book was at the end: “how to make a grading rubric”. Thankfully, we’d already done this in yesterday’s tutorial. First column: criteria. Next columns contain high, medium and low ability descriptors for each criterion. Final column is “not shown”. Give each square points (typically high = 3; med = 2; low = 1; none = 0) and total each student’s score. This is great information, but I’d heard it already.
I see a pattern here. Is there anything about teaching that I haven’t already read? Or are all other teaching books just re-hashes of PEEL, Oosterhof and Marsh?
I’m preferring useful, practical advice to pure theory. The most useful part of this table is the right-most column (the white one), which tells you how to design a curriculum. Enlarge it and take a look.