This article is an example of teaching procedures

Using The Post Box Strategy - Yr 10 Science

Peel Seeds Issue 26, page 10
October 1994
Ellen Fahey, Bellarine Secondary College

I was debating whether to use the video "Genetic Engineering: Exploring the issues (CSIRO)" with a year 10 science class during a Genetics Unit. At a meeting with Ian Mitchell he mentioned the Post Box Strategy which he had recently used with a Year 8 science class. Late that night, after the drive back from Monash, I thought it may be worthwhile to combine the video and this strategy

I prepared a sheet for the students that listed the five issues discussed on the video with space for their comments. The five issues were as follows:

  1. Is it right to interfere with nature?
  2. Is the risk to the environment too great?
  3. Should we use it on humans?
  4. Should companies be allowed to exploit it?
  5. Who should control it?
Before watching the first session of the video "What is Genetic Engineering?" we listed their ideas of genetic engineering on the board. After this first section of the video we discussed whether we should delete or add anything to the list.

Each student then wrote their thoughts on each issue on the prepared sheet and we then watched the second section of the video where the issues were discussed. They then had some time to add any additional thoughts to their sheet.

The following lesson each student cut up their sheet into five sections and place their responses in the appropriate issue box (1-5).

The students were randomly sorted into five groups and each group was responsible for one issue. Their task was to provide a summary of the student responses on the issue and report this to the class.

Their activity generated a great deal of discussion amongst the group members. For example, how to sort out the responses comparing their response on the issue to others and general discussion about the issue. It was an effective way to generate student discussion in a class that easily falls into a pattern during group work where a few students do all the talking and the others listen.