iGCSE Physics Co-construction #1

Imagine my delight when, just before term started, Arjun sent me this: a 20 page Revision Guide for the Waves unit we completed last year. Along with Kishen and Karam, Arjun was part of my co-construction team at the end of Year 10. The background to this process is described here.  (Arjun is also the student who took my lesson instead of me setting cover last term.)

The guide covers all the key learning points and gives some worked examples for the main equations.

As the course only has terminal exams, this is going to be very useful. The standard is very high – far exceeding what I had expected. The sense of responsibility that the co-construction process gives to students is very strong and Arjun was setting his own standards in seeking to round off his unit in style.

My first lesson with Y11 is next week. In order to sustain our momentum (excuse the Physics pun!) I arranged to meet the next co-construction crew at lunchtime on Friday. George, Sean and Henry were allocated our next topic Electricity way back at the start of the course when the class mapped out the path through the syllabus. This is how the discussion went:

We looked at the syllabus to get a sense of what is in it. We then discussed whether any of it might have been covered at KS3. Clearly they had some background but were not confident that they could remember much. It was agreed that a fair bit of recapping would be needed and that circuit theory was a good place to start. Then we had a discussion about the kinds of co-constructed lessons that were the most effective last year.

Henry thought that we should get on with making some circuits.. start with a practical so students could see things for themselves. He suggested that we could change resistors and voltages to see the effect on a light bulb as take measurements. George seemed more worried about the equations. He suggested that we should remind people of the formula and run through some worked examples. Sean could clearly see merit in both; his suggestion was to get students to build a range of circuits and then explain or reflect on the link to the theory using equations as we go along.

This general pattern was agreed. Ok, so the next step is to decide who does what.
“Do you want me to lead the lesson or do you want to?”
“We’ll do it ” they said.
“Ok, that means that you take full ownership. You need to see the technicians and order all the equipment”

This caused a collective “Yikes” but we have learned that this is the way to secure their commitment. They will not expect me to have things organised for them. I left them to plan out the detail of the lesson including deciding on a suitable homework task. As it stands now, on Sunday, I don’t really know what is going to happen on Tuesday. This is the great joy. I will turn up to the lesson and see what happens. If it starts going wrong – ie students are not learning, if the tasks are not clear or move too slowly, or if misconceptions are being reinforced instead of challenged, I will step in. I may need to do this a lot or not at all. I can’t wait to find out!


  1. Morning, read this with great interest. I wanted to ask if you still continue using co-construction units. I trialled an idea of this sort with some top set students a year ago. I found myself stepping in regularly to re-direct the lesson which felt appropriate but not the spirit of the concept. I like the idea of the co-construction unit but maybe I didn’t give the students enough responsibility. I teach Science across GCSE and thought it would help them learn. Question is do you still do it?


    • Yes. I’ve used the idea with my iGCSE class just finishing now. We sustained it through to the end although it was losing focus a little. Definitely will apply to my classes next year as will some other colleagues. Stepping in is ok.. it’s necessary at times, provided they have the overall sense of running the lesson.


      • OK that’s promising because there was some genuine engagement at the planning stage. I chunked up a topic (Adaptation) and assigned different chapters to small groups of three which after a period of planning they taught in sequence. I think the overview of the topic was lost because of this. I will look at this again for the next academic year. Thanks for your time. Most grateful.


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