# 3. Encouraging writing

## Case Study 3: Using role play to support understanding

Mr Molu asked his class to use the particle model to explain why liquids flow, why solids are hard and why gases can be compressed. He realised when he read what they had written, that there was a lot of confusion, particularly about the liquids and his students did not get very high marks. The students complained that everything in physics is abstract and difficult. He decided to try to motivate the class and make everything as concrete as possible. The previous day he had downloaded a simulation of how particles of solids, liquids and gases are arranged. In a double lesson he started by showing the class the simulation. Then he divided the class into three groups and asked them to role-play the simulations. Each student represented a particle: some students worked together to act being a solid. Others acted being a liquid and or being a gas. They were to report to the entire class how it felt to be solid, liquid and gas. Mr Molu posed the following questions:

• How close are particles in each case?
• How did the particles move in each case?

After this each group discussed and drew the arrangements, which they later redrew on the chalk board. The class was very lively and the students said that for once they experienced joy from being in a physics class.

## Activity 3: Effective demonstrations

In this activity you will do some demonstrations that illustrate some of the properties of materials and get the students to explain the demonstrations in their own words. You should write some of the key words on the board. The demonstrations will depend on the equipment that you have, but could include the expansion of a solid when it is heated (ball and ring), the expansion of a liquid when it is heated (coloured liquid in a glass bottle), a needle floating on water, potassium permanganate dissolving in water.

The important thing is to give the students the chance to explain the ideas themselves. Resource 6 gives you some ideas. Use the demonstration to practise your questioning. Start by asking simple closed questions designed to make your students observe carefully and then get them to try and explain their ideas. By giving them the chance to explain the demonstrations in their own words, you will really be able to see if they understand.

2. Using discussion to develop understanding

Resource 1: Questioning