Category Archives: iGCSE

Mapping Retinas

You can’t really go wrong with eyes. Oh, unless a student starts feeling queasy with the eyeball dissection. But it’s one of those Slam Dunk Open Goal Shoo In topics that you would have to work really hard at to make dull. So the following is just throwing some random ideas out there which you might consider (if you don’t already do them).

I start by making the entire class stare at a huge red heart projected on to the board for two minutes.


Then immediately switch to a white screen. They love this – it’s weird, it’s unexpected, it’s slightly unsettling, and it stimulates the obvious question – what the…?

So then we map their retinas.


This is a resource I found in an age old file 15 years ago or more, so it’s not original, but I love it. Keeps them usefully occupied for 45 minutes or so and all you need is some A3 paper, sellotape, meter rules and two pen lids, one red, one green. I’ve adapted it a bit and added a homework exercise with interpretive questions to help them understand the wonderful maps that they produce…


Once they’ve figured that out, you can go back to the red heart trick and ask them to explain it.

And if you are dissecting eyeballs, do make sure you see how high the lenses will bounce…



Is there a difference between teaching and learning?

This question is brought into sharper focus by how imminent your next inspection is. Ours is guaranteed at some point this year, so everyone is being asked to ensure an Excellence of learning in all lessons.

But how do you assess your students’ learning within a lesson? Especially if you’re busy teaching them?

Answer, don’t teach them!


On the old AQA GCSE course, students were expected to understand that viruses and bacteria can both make you ill, but that viruses do so by infecting cells, and bacteria do so by releasing toxins.

One way of covering this is to tell them. Fill in a summary table. Draw it on the board and talk them through it. Tick. Done, filed, covered, move on to the next shovel-load of information. So efficient! So quick! Isn’t that how you do it?

Or try this.

Infectious Disease introduction

All your work goes into the planning. Book the ICT suite or the laptops or the Chromebook. Design/modify the exercise and photocopy it.


Then let them do all the work.

Look at the inspection criteria for lesson observation. Look at how many boxes you’ll tick with this approach. More important, look at your students learning

Learning by doing doesn’t have to be practical work.

Follow it up with little virus models…

virus model

designed for a particular, original, designer disease. My favourite from a few years ago remains the virus covered in little stalks with pictures of Justin Bieber at the end of each antigen. Of course. The virus that causes Bieber Fever….

Encourage use of glitter and tinsel and dangle them from the ceiling of your lab for a splendid pathogenic yuletide mobile.