Andy Brunning and Bethan Foulkes – Science Subject Advisors
What extra resources or support do you need from us? This is a question we’re constantly asking you, whether it’s at one of our free teacher networks, events we attend, our CPD courses or just in response to queries you send to us. Your responses help us understand how we can help you – and where we need to do more. In this blog we look at some of the changes and new resources your feedback has inspired over the past months.
Our free database of exam questions from past and present series is a valuable tool for you to create tests for your students. However, you told us that you find it hard and time-consuming to manipulate the tests once exported into Word.
The team behind ExamBuilder have used your feedback to improve how the tests you create are exported. You can now select a third option: ‘Editable Word.’ In this version the invisible tables that questions were held in don’t exist, making it much easier for you to edit questions as needed.
This is only the first step in a series of improvements to ExamBuilder. Work has already begun on improving question mapping, tagging and filtering. For example, practical skills have been mapped to relevant questions for A Level Biology A and B and A Level Physics A, with A Level Physics B and A Level Chemistry due to follow. We’ll keep you updated on the progress of these and more improvements as they happen.
When the pandemic hit, you told us that you needed more ways to check your students’ knowledge and progress remotely. So, we immediately started working on turning our existing multiple choice topic quizzes into online Google Forms.
These short, multiple-choice quizzes are organised by topic and can be completed online by your students. They are self-marking to save you time, and provide automated feedback on right and wrong answers, helping your students understand any mistakes and develop their knowledge further. These have proven very popular with teachers, and your positive feedback for our A Level quizzes has helped us produce GCSE quizzes as well.
The quizzes are available for all our A Level Biology, Chemistry and Physics qualifications, and both of our GCSE Science suites, too. The links below will take you direct to their location on our qualification pages, where you can make copies of them and start using them straight away:
Many of you use our fixed or flexible trackers to track student progress in the practical endorsement at A Level. But we know that those of you with large numbers of students sometimes find them sluggish. And with schools increasingly moving to online cloud services like Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive, you’ve told us that the existing trackers were often not compatible with being turned into online shared versions.
Our new portable tracker aims to address these issues. It’s a more streamlined version of our fixed and flexible trackers and can be easily ported into cloud services without loss of function. While some changes from the original trackers were necessary to enable this flexibility, it still does everything needed to track your students’ achievement.
If the fixed or flexible trackers meet your centre’s needs, you can continue to use them. But, if not, we hope that the portable tracker will be an excellent alternative. We’ve produced a video explaining the features of all our trackers and how to use them, so you can decide which one is right for you.
We’re always eager to hear your suggestions for improvements to our resources, so please let us know any ideas you have in the comments below. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call on 01223 553998 or tweet @OCR_Science. You can also sign up to subject updates to receive information about resources and support.
Andy joined OCR in September 2017 and is subject advisor for A Level Chemistry and Geology. He has a Chemistry BSc and a Secondary Science PGCE from the University of Bath. Before joining OCR, he worked as a chemistry teacher in Bournemouth and Cambridge. He also sidelines as a science communicator and has produced infographic projects for the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Chemical Society.
Bethan joined OCR in April 2019 and is a subject advisor for GCSE Sciences and Applied Science. Before joining OCR, Bethan taught Biology to 11–18-year-olds for eight years and was responsible for planning her school’s biology schemes of learning. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Bethan mentored PGCE students and NQTs in science, and oversaw all the trainees and NQTs within the school as professional tutor. In her spare time, she enjoys dressmaking, quilting and many other different crafts.