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A model for a generic planning process

There are many ways of designing an effective learning programme. The model here describes a generic process that can be used to develop a new science programme/course/unit or to refine an existing one.

Learning in senior secondary science tends to be planned as one-year courses for year 11, year 12, and year 13.

Secondary schools could plan their science programme to cover five years (or seven in schools that cater for year 7-13) with multiple exit points for students from year 11 onwards to reflect the breadth of science learning available at years 11, 12, and 13.

Planning needs to focus on curriculum progression and pathways. 

Developing a vision for the science graduate learner from year 13 can guide the programme design. Reflection on the capabilities of the graduate learner and back-mapping this to year 7 or 9 can help define key aspects of nature of science and possible contexts to develop at each year level.

A planning checklist

The big picture

What is the learning focus?

For example one or more of the components of the nature of science strand, may provide the focus – so the learning programme, course or unit will connect to chosen achievement objectives that describe what students will be able to do.

Who are your learners?

Students in Kaitaia live in the most northerly town in New Zealand, about 110 km south of Cape Reinga. The town supports arable, sheep, beef and dairy farming, vineyards and fruit growing - especially avocados - as well as logging, milling, quarrying and service industries. A strong organics and permaculture movement is also developing in and around the town.

Students here will be considering further learning, training and employment opportunities either close to home or far away from their sub-tropical Far North homes.

How will the learning focus connect with the lives of these students and their future pathways? What’s its relevance?

Invercargill, the southernmost city in New Zealand, is situated on the banks of the Waihopai River not far from the junction with the New River estuary, close to rich farmland and fisheries.

How will the learning focus connect with the lives of students who are learning in this location? What pathways are open to them?

If your students are living and learning in Rotorua or Fairlie, Takapuna, Tuatapere or Tauranga how will the learning focus zoom in on local contexts that will spark the interest of students and provide opportunities to explore further learning opportunities and career pathways connected to science.


1.  Learning needs and interests

  • What are the students’ learning needs and interests?
  • How were their learning needs established?
  • How were their interests established?
  • What knowledge and skills are identified as 'key' to student learning.

2.  Key concepts/big ideas

  • What are the key concepts/big ideas?
  • How are these ideas relevant to these students?
  • How do these ideas relate to the Science AOs?

3.  Context

  • What is the context for learning?
  • How is this context relevant to all these students?
  • What resources are needed to engage students?
    • Teacher knowledge and skills
    • Physical and consumable resources
    • Community/whānau resources
    • Local industries and producer resources

4.  What nature of science focus will be developed?

  • How will this focus be developed in a way that is relevant to these students?
  • What teaching and learning processes will be needed for this?

5.  What key competency focus will be developed?

  • How will the key competency focus be developed with the learners?

6.  What principle(s) underpin this, and will be developed?

  • How will students be supported to develop an understanding of this principle?

7.  What value(s) will be modelled, demonstrated, and explored?

  • What opportunities will be provided for students to gain an understanding of the value(s) selected? 

8.  What literacy and numeracy strategies will be developed?

  • How will these strategies be appropriate for these students?

9.  What strategies will be used to address the needs of:

  • Māori students
  • Pasifika students
  • Students with special education needs
  • ESOL students
  • Gifted and Talented students

10. What assessment activities will be used to benefit and involve students?

  • How were students involved in making decisions about the assessment activities and focus?

11. What aspects of effective pedagogy form the focus of the teaching for this unit? Why?

12. What aspects of career education will be involved?

  • What vocational pathways are these students interested in following?
  • How can these interests be supported?

13. What aspects from the school’s community consultation need to be considered?

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Last updated December 14, 2012