Hints and Tips - 5 minute read
Sylvia Grice, OCR Science Subject Advisor
I know that as a teacher it is often difficult to find the time to hunt through websites to find the best resources to fulfil the needs of your students. Here I have highlighted the resources that I used the most when teaching A Level Biology.
Under the teaching activities tab there are 16 Microsoft Word MCQ quizzes, each with 20 questions and answers, and they are excellent for retrieval practice, assessment for learning, homework, etc. This image shows an extract from the MCQ topic quiz on cells.
My favourite way to use the quizzes with my students was to separate the questions from the multiple-choice answers then ask them to match them back together – this really helped to encourage them to reflect on their understanding and highlighted their misconceptions too.
A brilliant further step I enjoyed was to challenge students to write alternative questions for the same set of answers.
Under the same teaching activities tab is an excellent document on the Language of measurement. This exemplifies the use of terms such as resolution and uncertainty in the specific context of a biology investigation.
Under the handbooks tab there are detailed documents on drawing, mathematical and practical skills. The Drawing skills handbook is brilliant for showing students good and poor examples of biological drawings.
This image shows Teacher Resource 1 – Common Errors Activity taken from this handbook. The left-hand side of the drawing shows some common errors that are avoided in the right-hand side. Students could be asked to try to spot the errors.
The Practical skills handbook has comprehensive detail on mapping the PAGs to the specification learning outcomes as well as guidelines on key skills such as presenting results and referencing. There is also a newly updated Mathematical skills handbook too.
In this section of the website there are past and sample sets of question papers, mark schemes and examiners reports, as well as access to old papers from the legacy A Level Biology.
Documents from the most recent exam series are held securely on Interchange however only teachers with a login are able to access these papers so they are brilliant to use as mock papers.
In addition, under the practice papers and mark schemes tab there are two further sets of securely held practice papers, as well as secure topic tests available for Modules 2, 3 and 4 for Biology A. And modules 2 and 3 for Biology B. The additional topic tests are currently being developed.
Under the question papers, mark schemes and reports tab, for the 2019 series there is a brilliant Summer highlights document. This outlines examiner feedback in an easily digestible document perfect for emphasising common mistakes to students, this image shows an excerpt from the document.
The equivalent documents for 2017 and 2018 are found under their respective tabs but are called examiner comment summary.
Further down the assessment page there is a candidate exemplar tab which has example answers and examiner commentary for the 2017 exam series for Biology B and all exam series since 2017 for Biology A. It also has a very useful document specifically on level of response questions and the marking of them.
These documents include examples across the range of marks achieved so they are brilliant aids to developing students’ exam technique.
This image shows an extract from the 2018 document. The examiner commentary explains why this answer received full marks. There are additional exemplar answers in the document alongside further commentary explaining why marks were not awarded for them.
Under the tab legacy coursework tasks there are old practical skills in biology resources, these are held securely on Interchange too.
The qualitative and quantitative tasks include a wide range of practical based activities for example, distribution of stomata on leaves, the effect of sodium chloride solution on yeast activity along with analysis questions.
The evaluative tasks are excellent stand-alone activities for encouraging students to develop their skills in extracting information from a text, experimental analysis and evaluation.
In the left-hand menu you can find a section called maths for biology. This has tutorials and quizzes including the answers, on all of the mathematical skills in the A Level Biology specification. For example the below image shows an excerpt from the statistical tests quiz. These can be useful for setting as transition work for new Year 12 students, teaching activities and homework, or for intervention with specific students or groups.
The resources shared in my blog are just a handful of the support available on our website to help support teachers.
Are there any resources that we offer that you’ve found particularly helpful that I haven’t mentioned? I’d love to hear about how you use our resources in remote teaching lessons.
If you have any queries or questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us on 01223 553998 or Tweet us @OCR_Science. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive information about resources and support.
Sylvia Grice – Subject Advisor, Science
Sylvia joined OCR in April 2020 with specific responsibility for A Level Biology. She has come straight from the classroom after 8 years teaching GCSE Science and A Level Biology in Wiltshire and Norfolk with a brief period teaching in America. She is passionate about providing the support needed for excellent teaching and learning. Sylvia holds a degree in Natural Sciences and a PGCE in Secondary Science from the University of Bath. In her spare time Sylvia enjoys travelling around the UK in her campervan with her family.