Category Archives: 2 Prof. Knowledge & Understanding

Key Features of a Good Science Lesson

Through learning in the sciences, children and young people develop their interest in, and understanding of, the living, material and physical world. They engage in a wide range of collaborative investigative tasks, which allows them to develop important skills to become creative, inventive and enterprising adults in a world where the skills and knowledge of the sciences are needed across all sectors of the economy.

A good science lesson requires you to prepare thoroughly around the Experiences and Outcomes and look at effective ways in which the children can develop the skills they need to become successful learners in science.

Some of the key features in a science lesson discussed include the following:

  • Clear learning intention and success criteria so the children know exactly what they should be able to do by the end of the lesson
  • Take into consideration the natural curiosity of the children and their desire to create work in a practical creative way
  • Teacher should have a strong expertise and enthusiasm for the subject in order to motivate children into learning more about the subject
  • Lessons should be practical, engaging and enjoyable for children
  • Effective teaching should use a variety of methods including: active learning, planned play, development of problem solving and analytical skills, scientific practical investigations, use of relevant contexts to teach children, use of real materials, living things, effective technology, development of collaborative learning and independent thinking, emphasis on children explaining their own knowledge
  • The science related information should be purposeful and relevant to the children. It is important to show the children WHY they are learning science and how the lesson links to aspects of the world around them.
  • Relating the lesson to the jobs around them that involve science such as medicine/engineering/forensic science and all other STEM jobs
  • Children should be able to develop skills such as being able to observe and explore
  • There should be a positive class ethos, so the children feel comfortable and willing to engage in the class lesson and further discussion
  • Use of questioning to make sure that the teacher has a clear understanding of what the children now know, and where further development in the lesson could be shown.

These are only some of the important features to a good science lesson. Depending on what area of science you are teaching, you can relate to more features such as the importance of outdoor learning in science for lessons such as eco systems and the water cycle. You can also Provide further opportunities for learning through the use of field trips and visits to science museums for children to broaden their understanding of science and its importance to our everyday lives.


Facing My Fear of Maths

Maths is the subject I have always been less enthusiastic about. I, like many other people associate maths with fear, dread, failure and disappointment. I know that as a teacher it is the ‘responsibility of all’ to teach maths and increase pupil engagement and confidence with numeracy. I need to be the person that shows my own enthusiasm for this subject in order for my pupils to reflect this positive behaviour – but how can I do this when every time I think about teaching maths I fill with complete dread? The answer is to face my fear of maths head on and change my relationship with numbers into a positive one.

In the input today, Tara Harper made a very powerful point on how she feels innumeracy should be just as unacceptable as illiteracy. There are far too many children in today’s generation as well as my own that lack basic maths skills and ultimately this will be detrimental to the rest of their lives. I think it is unfortunate that so many children struggle with maths. As I can relate to this all too well I understand why so many children end up giving up on this at such an early age. I was fortunate enough to have a really supportive teacher in primary school who reminded me during math lessons that even the best mathematicians in the world struggled and made mistakes before getting the right answer. There is nothing in life that comes to you without understanding what not to do. I have always remembered this message, and it is what pushed me through my fears of maths all the way through both primary and secondary school. I hope to take this positive outlook with me on my professional journey to give the children in my class reassurance and confidence in their work and prove to them that there are several different ways in finding the answer in maths.

Maths surrounds us, even when we don’t realise it. Whether it is reading bus timetables or working out when to set our alarms in the morning. If children have this thought engrained into them that they can’t do maths, then daily activities such as these will become difficult. We take these simple concepts for granted, as they are very different from the Pythagoras and BODMAS that you teach in the classroom. It is our role as a teacher to break maths down into different, easier to grasp components, to show children the everyday uses of math and make it clear to them that they CAN do maths.

It is important to always highlight to children that they can improve. One factor that knocks childrens confidence when it comes to maths is being told blatantly that what they have done is wrong. Adults have the responsibility to tell children that it’s okay to make mistakes, and that the mistakes they make are just learning opportunities for them to do better next time. Helping a child understand where they went wrong step by step can reassure them that they can do maths and will help them overcome their maths anxiety. This will ultimately allow their confidence to grow, making it easier for them to progress within the subject.

Overall, overcoming maths anxiety is the way in which I can become a better practitioner. Sharing enthusiasm for maths with the children will mean that we will all develop a positive relationship with each other and for the subject. Getting over my fear of maths is the only way in which I can enforce it in the classroom, and further develop my skills as a teacher.

Structural inequalities in the classroom

During our first seminar with Brenda, we were split into 5 groups. She told us that with the resources she was going to provide us, we had to create something that would make ‘our first week on campus easier’. She handed us out envelopes with the equipment we were to use to make this idea come to life. Whilst doing so, my group noticed that group 1 and group 2’s envelopes were far bulkier than the one that we received. At this point, I even asked Brenda if this were a mistake, and if there were items missing from our envelope.

Our envelope included;

  • 2 post-it notes
  • 1 sheet of A4 paper
  • blue tack
  • 1 pen
  • 3 paperclips

This was in comparison to other groups who received multiple sheets of coloured card, scissors, multiple pens and sellotape.

Throughout the task, Brenda made several comments to our group such as ‘that’s not a very creative idea’ and ‘you need to work better together’. Some of the faces she was making to us as well made us feel incredibly worthless and out of place.

When all were delivering their ideas to the rest of the class, we were aware that groups 1 and 2 were receiving positive feedback and Brenda was interacting a lot more with these groups. We were impressed with the idea we had come up with, with the resources that we had. Yet, to hear little to no feedback on it made us question if we had done something wrong.

Our group felt the need to work harder, and prove ourselves more worthy of praise from Brenda. We longed for positive feedback like the other groups had received. We somewhat felt neglected by Brenda and couldn’t quite grasp what we had done wrong. We started to get exasperated near the end of the task, as Brenda continued to ignore us and give off comments and gestures that we believed to be quite rude.

In reflection of the task, I feel as though I am now more aware of meritocracy: the holding of power by people selected according to merit. Brenda’s demonstration highlighted that teachers simply cannot discriminate against those without resources. The praise that Brenda gave the other groups, if in a real classroom environment, would make children feel very anxious, and unwilling to participate in classroom activities. A relationship with a teacher should be healthy, not like the way Brenda was portraying.

When we came to discuss this topic with the rest of the class, we became aware that groups 1 and 2 had no realisation that they were being treated differently to the other groups. This reflects that many children with the best resources and opportunities in life, will no be aware of those who surround them that are living in poverty and deprivation.

Reflecting overall, it is clear that teachers must give every child equal opportunities in the classroom, but this comes as a struggle when you are unaware of the child’s background. I have also seen how it is very easy to favour specific individuals, and not even be aware that you are doing so. To prevent these structural inequalities, a teacher should provide every child with the exact same opportunities, and understand that there will be students in the class that require more assistance than others. When achieving this, you are making the learning environment a happier place where children want to learn. They will get the best out of there learning experience, and ultimately structural inequalities will be reduced.