We arrived at Omiya Kita High School in Saitama City and were greeted by an enthusiastic principal, Mrs Hosoda Mayumi. Omiya Kita High School, located 40 minutes away from central Tokyo, is one of four municipal high schools in Saitama City and sets itself apart from the others by being a Science School. This means that there is an additional science class that students can opt into, giving them the opportunity to further both their understanding and skills in science. Two students from the science class presented investigations that they had undertaken, and it was fabulous to see evidence of investigative skills emerging in these young people.
This school is the equivalent of a senior high school in Australia and teaches students from Year's 10 – 12. The major difference that I noticed regarding their curriculum structure was that during Year 10 they only studied biology, as it was felt that they did not have the mathematical skills needed for
chemistry and physics until Year 11. There was considerable ICT in use within the classroom,
however, there is limited professional development provided for teachers to train up on how to
maximise ICT. ICT is mainly used as a replacement for a whiteboard or blackboard, rather than to add new aspects to learning and help develop deeper thinking skills.
The classes at Omika Kita High School usually have a class size of 20. This is unique, as we found that most other schools in Japan have a maximum class size of 40. I wondered how such large class sizes would impact students getting individual feedforward and support. If you consider that a standard lesson is approximately 50 minutes in length, by the time you have given instructions, started an activity, and taken into account pack-up and clean-up time you would be left with less than one minute to talk individually with each student.
|Sharra interacting with Japanese students at Omika Kita High School|
activities such as concept stars to help me gain an understanding of their prior knowledge, as well as
giving context to the activity that they completed. My lesson, using boomerangs to explore the principles of lift, angular momentum and torque, was a success. By the end of the lesson there was a variety of different models and some very successful throws.