chapter  12
14 Pages

Choice for the gifted: Lessons from teaching about scientific explanations


This chapter explores the potential value of ‘choice’ as a feature of science teaching planned for the most able in science classes. Student choice is one feature of learner-centred approaches to teaching (see Chapter 5). The context of the chapter is a sequence of activities focused on the notion of ‘scientific explanation’. The approach taken is considered to offer a number of features that link to the needs of the most able science learners. In particular, there were a number of ways that the lesson activities offered ‘choice’, and positive student responses to the sessions seemed linked to this notion. It is suggested here that choice, as a principle to inform lesson planning, relates to a number of the issues that are considered important in teaching the gifted:

• creativity: by providing open-ended activities (Stepanek 1999); • differentiation: by allowing students to respond at different levels (NDE

1997); • engagement: by offering opportunities to link to personal interests

(Renzulli 2004); • metacognition: by requiring pupils to make judgements e.g. about which

examples to tackle, and when to move on to another example (Shore and Dover 2004);

• task demand: by offering opportunities for higher level cognition

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 1011 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30111 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40111 1 2

The activities discussed here were developed for use as curriculum enrichment for 13-to14-year-olds, so the particular teaching sequence did not have to fit within a fixed scheme of work. Nonetheless, the general principle exemplified here can certainly be a consideration in planning more regular teaching.