Biology Field Trip Evaluation

Using Waterwatch as a field trip framework is accessible to almost all schools (maybe not in arid areas) and could be modified and adapted for marine systems if needed. Having a real life system which is both local helps to drive relevance into the curriculum and can potentially enhance the learning experience. The hands on counting of insects removes the potential for a passive “come along for the ride” option for students and working with an established group also means that student collected data can be really used. It is important that field trips have strong and tangible rationale and do not simply be done for field trip sake. Ideally a field trip location or activities will be diverse to match the student experiences. For example having a “new” experience may trigger more learning for students than simply visiting the “zoo” again for the 100th time and vise versa. In VCE it is important that science is not limited to the school so developing field trip opportunities within the VCE framework essential to remind students of the diversity biology can be incorported into and also stimulate ideas about where biology is important and relevant in their lives.

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Creating a wiki for VCE Biology Reflection

I am not sure we managed to pull off what I imagine we could have. Perhaps the timeing and not seeing one another enough but the team big was not working. Personally I found the excercise overwhelming and I did not feel I really pulled together my own understanding of the Unit of study as well as I wanted. Because we had limited form I found myself trying to generate activites which were unique and current. I worry that the biology is too superficial and think they need refining. A wiki in terms of collaboration is a very exciting tool but as there is a limited “need to know” perhaps for the course. I will be interested to see what other groups have created and wonder if my interpretaption is a little different. There is so much on the internet. Exciting but difficult to filter for well developed lessons. Unfortunately my learning was limited during this activity.

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I am an avid listener of the Naked Scientist Podcasts which enables me to maintain my current science thinking
I am an avid listener of the Naked Scientist Podcasts which enables me to maintain my current science thinking


Engaging for students and

dynamic for me as a teacher.

Science is ever changing and a

science classroom should

reflect this. Using personal

research enabled me to give

students an understanding of

where and why a science

education is important. I am an

ECOGEEK and look forward to

collaboration with educators

around the world.

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Lesson plans provided a framework for

the classroom. Using feedback from my

supervising teacher and well as post

lesson reflection also consolidate a lesson.

When combining the lesson plan,

feedback and reflection I was able to

develop the next lesson with better clarity

and effective learning for students.

Picture 5

FeedbackYear 8 Science Lesson

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chemistry portfolio


  1. My Chemistry Teacher Philosophy
  2. Shulman’s Knowledge Domains
  3. Enhancing learning opportunities during experiments
  4. Chemistry field trips
  5. Acid Base Group Work and REDOX Poker


My Chemistry Teacher Philosophy

I find the simplicity and enormity of the task of teaching science and chemistry fascinating. Simple in the way two people can draw an idea with a stick in the sand and share knowledge. Simple in the way that kids can act out being atoms of water in different states and have that as an embedded reference point for the rest of their life. Simple in the way that most of what is in science and maths stems from unbreakable rules of nature as we know them. Enormous as the world itself, the variety of people and learning styles and the equality and hope that some basic learning can bring to everyone of us.

The classroom I hope to be apart of is

  • accessible to all
  • non judgemental
  • relevant
  • dynamic

From my blog reflecting on a personal learning experience:

I was never made to feel stupid about not understanding a step. I made a mistake at the final step but by giving me time to reflex I was able worked it out by myself.
I really felt that I did the teaching for myself and that my lecturer’s questions ordered and glued the process for me as the student. I am so glad I did this as it has given me some valuable insight to process of learning. Friday March 20th 2009


The dynamic nature of science developments and knowledge acquisition will be reflected in my chemistry education philosophy. It will continue to change and develop upon experience and ongoing professional development.

Shulman’s Knowledge Domains

My understanding of PCK in the beginning of chemistry eduction. This diagram is very simplistic and shows a lack of conceptual understanding, first diagram. Upon 2 months of chemistry focused education and placement experience my understanding of PCK is better refined. While I still do do feel I have PCK in chemistry, my understanding of the other 6 domains is now more refined and will contribute greatly to developing PCK when teaching in the future. By analysing each domain ( see table below) I have been able to focus where I need to develop and thus I will be able to create relevant teaching education objectives for myself next year.

July 2009

My initial concept shows limited linkage and development of understanding and is very PCK centric

October 2009


What Shulman’s Domains mean to me and how I plan to develop Chemistry PCK.



Enhancing learning opportunities during experiments

My reflection of VCE students during a prac:

I also noticed that some students with procedure in hand still wanted a verbal account of what to do next.” 14/9/09

(From blog)

After this lesson I felt frustrated that students did not read the procedure and there was also limited opportunity for me to ask questions to extend their learning. This particular group of students were particularly engaged and enthusiastic during experiments (kinestic) and this was a contrast to other activities undertaken in the classroom. During my first placement I developed a pictorial representation exercise for year 8 science students to provide structure and a requirement to read the practical activity before they were able to start the experiment. This simply yet effective process was met with positive feedback from my Monash mentor. I decided to employ a similar method for the VCE chemistry class.

Mentor’s Feedback:

“Great to use picture/colours for students to follow (& think through) procedure”


My Request of Students:

” Create a pictorial flow chart for the procedure you will undertake in tomorrows titration experiment.”


Those who did undertake the homework created pictorial step by step flow diagrams and asked numerous questions before the titration experiment began

An example of the outcome:

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Student reflection:

From anonymous online survey question:

Think about a particular activity Ms Alexander did with you in class (for example Venn Diagram, practical, writing notes or working through a problem). Describe what you liked or did not like about this activity and explain why.


“The flow chart before the titration pracs. It really helped me understand step by step what we were doing, and because we did them the night before, i was more prepared and things were easier, rather then not knowing what to do.”

VCE Student

Supervising Teacher Response:

“Visual flow chart- step by step visual representation of the prac -GREAT IDEA”

Post class Reflection:

Students who undertook this activity were able to engage in discussion beyond the procedure. The energy needed to follow the procedure potentially can detract from the higher order thinking could be developed as a teacher or fellow students ask questions of a student. Problem solving was also possible when students where familiar with the process thus the experiment became more dynamic. I also benefited from undertaking the same homework activity as it lamented my understanding and helped me to develop higher order questioning of students. I imagine that as students became better that this activity it could be used as a tool for students to “storyboard” a prac which they may design or used to develop problem solving skills. The activity of drawing is also beneficial to develop the “left brain” “right brain” balance.

Chemistry field trips

A wonderful opportunity to conduct a number of field trip with year 8 students during my placement was so rich for my understanding of classroom science principal in a practical application. A Waterwatch water quality testing activity for students enabled me to assess their higher order application of the theory.

A field trip enabled all intellects to be nourished during science education
A field trip enabled all intellects to be nourished during science education
Analysiis, synthesis and Evaluation are widely utilised during the field trip activities. Linkage to the classroom is crutical for Bloom's Taxanomy to be used effectiviely.
Analysis, synthesis and Evaluation are widely utilised during the field trip activities. Linkage to the classroom is critical for Bloom's Taxonomy to be used effectively.
Determining the turbidty of local creek water.

These activities really embody my idea that Teaching science and chemistry can both SIMPLE  and yet enormously complicated. I do see myself utilising field trips as a regular part of my teaching.

Year 8 Science Lesson

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“The classroom context prior to WaterWatch field trip”


5. Group Acid Base and REDOX Poker

Semester 1 Acid and Base Group Activity

Using a large scale group activity for year 10 students to “walk through” an ACID BASE reaction, see Diagram below. I was using the ideas based around Gardener’s

multiple intelligences and simply thought it might be another way for students to learn about acid base reactions. I did not read any literature or research other educator using this method.

Activity Summary:

This activity occurred after discussion about acid base reactions generally having predictabl

e outcomes, i.e Salt and water products.

Need a large space for student to be able to move around the classroom, each student is randomly assigned an ion sticker.


Student were then prompted to do the following:

  • Analyse your assigned ion and determine if you are a cation or anion. (I would ask individuals to respond)
  • Form an acid or base with another student
  • Acids to the left of the room and bases to the right lined up in pairs
  • A pair from each side of the room walk and meet in the middle and “react”
  • Water to one side and salt to another. The water and salt groups mixed at the end. If uneven group have an extra H+ ion and discuss acidity of the final solution

Post Activity reflection:

“I thought today’s class worked really well. It is wonderful to see how a large group activity can work. I don’t think these students do much large scale group work and I spent lots of my time trying to get them to listen. It was hard to see if they benefited from doing the activity. Do they now know acid and bases better. I am not sure?”

April 2009

Supervisor Feedback

“you need to get students to be more quiet in the group activity and ensure that they are take part”

April 2009

Semester 2 REDOX Poker

Using a large scale group activity for VCE chemistry students to reconstruct a REDOX reaction and develop an undertanding of the electrochemical series. This group were particularly responsive to activities that had a physical component, ie prac work. I researched chemical education REDOX activities and found the article:


Lomax, J. F. (1994). Kinetic Classroom: Acid-Base and Redox Demonstrations with Student Movement. Journal of Chemical Education, 71(5), 428-30.

This document helped me to formulate the activity and drew my attention to area of difficulty for student particularly the concept that oxidation is caused by the reductant. Lomax discussed the order in which one might introduced certain words.

Activity Summary:

Student were provided with an electrochemical series chart and a unique envelope labeled with a metal cation or anion symbol on one side and metal solid symbol on the flip side. There were poker chips to represent electrons also available.

A commercially formed electrochemical series used during this activity
A commercially formed electrochemical series used during this activity

Students were prompted to

  • form groups according to their position in the electrochemical series chart i.e. Eo Positive and Negative
  • Discuss in the group who has more “strength” to take an electron and thus are the better reductant
  • One group was then given poker chips to “fill their envelope” and then turn the envelope around to display the solid form.
  • The entire class as then asked to “mingle” and find another student who they could demonstrate a REDOX reaction with.
  • Students where asked to get into groups of 3 and determine which REDOX reaction was most likely to occur when using the electrochemical series

Post Activity Reflection:


I was surprised with the potential learning form this activity. Why did I use a commercially available electrochemical series? The day before we had performed a metal reactivity experiment : The electrochemical series of metals. [From Chemistry One, Practical manual]

I could have got student to use their own generated series. This would have provided more connections with their prac and the theory as well as ownership over the data for students. I perhaps should have incorporated a demonstration with the envelopes in the beginning so that students overcame confusion about what to do. I relied on my supervising teacher to help with the activity. I made particular note of her clear language and questioning. It is wonderful to see an experience practitioner who has seen confusion about particular aspect of a topic. I hope that in my first teaching experience I have some teachers who I can rely on for support and have experience I can draw upon. Norma was able to determine a students understanding by their response to particular questions. I find myself only being able to see when they have it “right or wrong” and struggle with the gradient in between. Post activity discussion and reflection with Norma enabled me to see that my content knowledge need to be more precise and I need to put more energy into my own learning, particularly the nitty gritty. So far my enthusiasm for chemistry and science has allowed me to mask my content knowledge somewhat. I have discovered how to provide myself a “need to know” situation so that I can be motivated to learn the content. This activity fell short of it’s potential because I was not emersed in the content understanding, so to avoid this for the future I need to put in the hard work to “know my chemistry”.

Supervising Teacher Response:

” I love the REDOX activity”

“How strong am I at holding on to my electrons? great key question

“The students enjoyed the exercise and the ability to converse with each other- I think though some were confused with what to do”

Where to from here?

I see a definite growth from semester 1 placement compared with semester 2. I certainly see large scale group activities as a part of the classroom. There is an element of needing to “train” students as how to be involved in group activity. I found having literature to support my ideas helps me to channel my objectives, however having a more concise overview of the content and pedagogy will enhance my ability to develop and tailor dynamic group activities with positive learning outcomes. There needs to be more fluidity between learning activities rather than having them as separate learning components. I need ask myself. How does this connect with what we have done and where we are headed to next?

Identifying student qualities and expectations in the chemistry classroom

Acid base group activity (year 10)

Utilising multiple intelligences in the chemistry classroom

content goes here …

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Computer technology is constantly changing and highly dynamic. Using technology creates a dynamic classroom environment as well as a unique tool for enhancing learning. Using sites such as wikispaces and friendfeed enables my students to collaborate and continue their learning beyond the classroom.

i learnt that wiki’s can be useful for many different things. you can use them for reports and can be used as educational resources.

Year 8 Student

I believe that computers should be used as one of many tools in the classroom and it is important that they are used to maximise learning. Emails enable follow up from a lesson to readdress and confirm expectations. Other resources such as YOU TUBE and Vodcasts provide science information which is dynamic and current.


A great email…the students will have no trouble following your instructions.

Norma Karantonis, Wesley College



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Ok I think I got something

A quick ramble …

It’s ok to be unable to capture science for myself as content driven. It is actualy the ideas that science is constantly moving and student only get a captured moment which is stationary. Why do kids love TV because it is constantly evolving. MOVE MOVE MOVE Ao that is what I want to do. Make the connection for students that this is exciting. That is what I get excited and motivated about.


Plus having this “moment” made me realised that the teachers I loved in science were like this. I got the yr 8 science prize in year 8 Why? I wasn’t getting the best marks, I was lazy and didn’t do homework. Why because my teacher was trying to tell me that being enthusiastic and asking lots of questions and thinking beyond the textbook was ok. I am no Einstein but I had and still continue to have a scientific mind and that in inself is something to treasure, be proud of and use in my life. He also told my class that getting A’s was not what science was all about it was the questioning and analysis that mattered most.

Thanks Mr Richardson, 17 years on and I have finally understood why I got that prize and I thank-you for seeing it in me, it allowed me to believe in myself and love science as a less than perfect student

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reflectStudent I believe that understanding the process by which we learn as teachers and students is critical for our educational progression. Throughout the Diploma of Education I have extended my understanding via reflections on my blog. I plan to continue this process to further enhance my PCK and professional growth in the future.

reflect studnet

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Student needing assistance during titration class with Sarah Alexander
Students need to feel a connection and trust with their teacher to learn effectively
Important relationship I want to foster as a teacher


Effective teaching is based on relationships. During my placements I was able to develop relationships with students and facilitate student community relationships. A strong connection with my supervising teachers enabled me to refine my learning and deliver quality learning experiences for students. Relationships take work and require active participation.

Membership with STAV provided an opportunity to attend a BEGINNERS SCIENCE TEACHERS conference in April 2009
Membership with STAV provided an opportunity to attend a BEGINNERS SCIENCE TEACHERS conference in April 2009
Waterwatch Volunteer with students at a local creek
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