Being a Stimulating Physics Network partner school

Last summer term, we signed up to become a SPN partner school and today we had our first session with our SPN contact.

In our department, I am the only Physics specialist although struggle with the practical ‘tricks’ to hook students. We needed some good ideas. 

We were shown how to model electricity for KS3 and none of them were ways I’d seen used before, all new to us. 

  • The penguin race game (that I’ve found for sale on Amazon) to teach about potential difference was great. Very hypnotic to watch and made perfect sense. Cheap too, we’ll get one of these!
  • Electric energy balls (also here on Amazon) opens up all sorts of questions about circuits, what’s needed for them to work, showing series and parallel circuits. They work when hold hands and forming a bigger loop so good for including the whole class.
  • A loop of rope to demo current and again showing series and parallel circuits. 

All of these we’d take away and could use straight away.

Then there’s everything else included. SPN wil come and run revision classes, AS taster classes – great for us as no sixth form, working on gender imbalance in education, more CPD sessions for us (we have five more booked), free Summer CPD residential courses, tours of talks, Yr9 exoplanets club, whole day activities and more. Best of all, it’s all FREE.

A resource definitely worth having.

Image from Flickr.


Exam marking

This year, in a bid to raise funds for our wedding next year, I applied to mark exams. I was offered a Physics paper (perfect) and, after preparing myself for endless hours of time lost to marking, here is what I’ve found out throughout the process:

  1. How to mark properly: When I learned that the training was going to take two hours online, I groaned inwardly. However, I learned LOTS throughout this session. The many different types of question, what good and poor question answers looked like, what it means to ‘ignore’ an answer, what it means to be underlined, in bold or in brackets. I’m not new to teaching, or marking papers in school but just this training alone was immensely helpful and will improve my practice in future.
  2. It makes you a better teacher. As I marked each question, it was clear to see which responses were common amongst students and, most importantly, commonly incorrect. Certain areas of the specification were not answered well and this will help me teach those areas better in the future.
  3. Marking online is brilliant. When I mark exam papers in school, I always mark a question at a time and this is exactly how marking for summer exams was completed. I find it helps me to get in the flow and I get better marking the question. 
  4. It’s quick. Especially the short answer questions of course but even the dreaded six mark questions I managed to get through in a reasonable amount of time whilst remaining accurate. I find when marking hard copies of papers so much time is lost to adding up markings, writing question totals, adding these up etc. and this is removed when marking online.
  5. You’re not left to it. My lead examiner was very supportive and always available to go through any tricky questions I struggled with.
  6. It’s fairly flexible. You have your quota and a deadline but I managed to get through these in plenty of time. I certainly didn’t have to shut myself away for two weeks to get it done. Once the deadline had passed, there was an opportunity to complete extra and, seeing pound signs, I completed as many more as I liked. There was no obligation to keep going though.
  7. It is monotonous. Whilst I valued the experience hugely, and the extra funds will be gratefully received, marking exams is mind numbing at times. I needed regular breaks and had to set myself mini goals to keep me motivated. This, for me was the only negative.

If anyone was considering marking exams, it is something I would recommend as I learned a lot and will hopefully be offered more marking next year.

Image courtesy of Flickr.