2. Rotating group work

Electricity provides more than light. Think of the modern electrical appliances we use. We get heat from electricity (stoves, irons, etc.). We get movement (mower, fan etc.). Radios and TVs give us sound. Some pupils may even know that magnetism is also involved in some way with electricity.

You need to think about how you can show these electrical effects to pupils. One way would be to get pupils to be investigators in their local community; they draw up lists of all the effects and uses of electricity that they see around them. Or they could cut out pictures of appliances from adverts in old magazines and newspapers to make a display. Can you think of other ways to make pupils aware of different uses for electricity?

In Activity 2, your pupils move round a number of workstations in your classroom to find out about the effects of electricity; this is an example of rotating group work. You will need to think about how you ask the pupils to record what they have learned in this activity –will they create a poster in each group? Will you ask each group to present their ideas about one workstation? Read Case Study 2 to see how one teacher carried out this activity.

After the activity, ask yourself if your pupils enjoyed this way of working. How could you improve it next time?

Case Study 2: Reflecting on rotating group work

Mrs Yargawa, an experienced primary science teacher, decided to try rotating group work using a double period and ten groups of five pupils. She planned ten workstations to show the effects of electricity: two for the ‘heat’ activity, two for ‘movement’, two for ‘sound’, two for ‘magnetism’ and two for ‘light’.

The day before the lesson, she made ten workcards (see Resource 4: Workcards) and packed the apparatus for each workstation in a shoebox. She appointed a group leader for each group and arranged a meeting with the leaders before the lesson so they were well prepared.

Reflecting on the lesson, Mrs Yargawa was very pleased with the way it went. The groups moved from station to station every ten minutes, and the leaders ensured that everyone took part. She had asked the pupils to write their own notes on what they had learned from the lesson and to comment on their experience of rotating group work. She was impressed with how much the pupils gained, but she was even more impressed with the mature way they talked about the approach she had used.

Activity 2: Rotating group work

Read the workcards ( Resource 4), which give details of workstations, each to demonstrate one effect of electricity. Look at the equipment needed, and decide how many workstations you will have for each card. Prepare the equipment and label it clearly.

  • Divide your class into groups to match the total number of workstations. (If you have a large class and only one workstation for each effect, you may need to do the activity with half your class and then repeat it with the other half).
  • Explain to your class how to set up each workstation and read through the workcard for each workstation with the pupils.
  • In each group choose a leader. Gather the leaders round you and tell them they are responsible for making sure that their group works in an orderly way at each workstation and that everyone in the group joins in. When you call ‘stop’ the leaders will move their group to the next workstation until they have completed all five.
  • Tell the leaders to return to their groups and to start working.
  • After ten minutes call ‘stop’. Each group puts the equipment back neatly and moves to another workstation. Do this again after another ten minutes, and so on, until everyone has looked at all five workstations.
  • Make sure that each group records their observations at each workstation.
  • At the end, ask each group to present their observations and ideas from one of the workstations.

1. Working in groups

3. Planning investigations