Planning a unit of work

The importance of planning 

Systematic planning by the teacher will be crucial for the success of the science programme. Such planning should cover the acquisition of knowledge, the development of skills and attitudes and the use of appropriate assessment.

In planning units of work, the teacher should

  • Be aware of the children’s past learning experiences. Consulting the former class teacher and reviewing the pupil profile cards and class records will provide the teacher with information about the scientific work completed and the progress children have made in working scientifically and designing and making.  
  • Select from the strands and strand units outlined in the school plan for science and in the curriculum. The topics should take account of the needs and aptitudes of the pupils, reflect the local environment and ensure continuity and progression in children’s learning.
  • Clarify and identify the detailed content that is to be covered in the unit of work. This will specify the scientific knowledge and concepts that children will develop through their science work.  
  • Identify the learning outcomes to be achieved. This will provide the basis for the assessment of pupils’ learning and progress.
  • Specify the methods of assessment to be used
  • Outline the science activities that the children will undertake. The plan of work should also incorporate the many continuing activities that children may experience daily or weekly, such as recording the weather, taking care of animals and plants in the classroom or working with the sand or water tray. Teachers should plan some activities that small groups of children can undertake without adult supervision. Investigation tables may also be set up in the classroom with associated questions on cards. These experiences need to be planned carefully to ensure that all pupils have equal access to the activities.
  • Consider the teaching approaches that can be employed. Using a range of teaching approaches and methodologies will ensure the balanced development of knowledge and skills and the engagement of all pupils in active investigations.  
  • Provide for individual differences. Teachers should plan activities that all children should complete as well as providing support activities for the less able child or more able child. Consideration should also be given to organising the children in groups and the extra help and tuition that some children may require during the learning activities.
  • Identify the resources required for the topic and the equipment in the school. The sharing of resources among teachers in the same school or in a cluster of schools needs to be carefully managed so that the use of specialised equipment, such as thermometers, nature viewers, magnets, bulbs and batteries, can be maximised.  
  • Plan for the communication and recording of work and findings. The communication of children’s ideas is an essential part of working scientifically and designing and making. Consideration should be given to providing opportunities for children in other classes in the school, for parents and other interested members of the school community to view the results of the children’s work.