Scientific Literacy

Scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for everyday experiences, for example decision making. Scientific literacy allows a person to read or hear an article or newspaper online and decide on its validity. A literate person should be able to evaluate the worth of certain scientific information based on the sources and methods used to produce the conclusion or argument appropriately. It is important for educators to give students the opportunity to develop their understanding of scientific concepts and processes and show how they relate to our society. Without scientific literacy children are more likely to buy into false scientific facts and findings.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, scientific literacy is, “the capacity to use scientific knowledge, to identify questions and to draw evidence-based conclusions.” (OECD, 2003) Without this there would be no evidential backing to many scientific theories and scientific knowledge. The reason that science, for many people makes sense, is because everything is backed up with evidence and research. However, there are many times in the media where scientific literature is used incorrectly, or even not at all. An article written by Ben Goldacre (2016) explains how many new drug trials and testing do not give an accurate idea of how good the drug is. This is due to a lack of testing and a small amount of people in the trials. Without this explicit scientific data, there is no way a correct conclusion can be made about the new drugs. If proper testing was carried out, there would be a higher chance new drugs would either be more effective or pulled before being released to the public to save people having undue side effects. This also gives people the wrong impression of drug trials, as the lack of concrete scientific evidence means there is no proof, however if this is missed out completely in media then nobody will think bad of it.

How teaching Fair testing in schools links to scientific literacy:

A fair test is an experiment where you change one factor (variable) at a time whilst keeping all other factors and conditions the same. For example, if you are measuring what object travels fastest down a ramp you would only change the object and not the angle of the ramp or the force the object is pushed with.

Fair testing is taught throughout primary school with the help of other science topics. Through this, children develop skills and independence in planning and performing fair tests.

Fair testing is taught throughout the curriculum and not as a separate topic a it involves a variety of skills. Children will use fair testing as a way to investigate questions within every science topic from plants to forces.

Fair testing links to scientific literacy as it shows “knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making” (discover magazine). Children require specific skills to carry out fair testing that shows they have adequate scientific literacy for that stage they are working at.

References:

Science Buddies (Undated) Available at: https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/science-fair/doing-a-fair-test-variables-for-beginners (Accessed on: 9th February)

What is a fair test? (Undated) Available at: (https://www.theschoolrun.com/what-is-a-fair-test, (Accessed: 9th February)

Kirshenbaum, S (2009) ‘ What is Scientific Literacy?’, Discover (March), Available at: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2009/03/17/what-is-scientific-literacy/#.WoA1qFJ0egQ (Accessed: 9th February)

OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] (2003) The PISA 2003 Assessment Framework – Mathematics, Reading, Science and Problem-Solving Knowledge and Skills. Paris: OECD.

Goldacre, B. (2016) The Cancer Drugs Fund is producing dangerous, bad data: randomise everyone, everywhere! Available at: http://www.badscience.net/2016/09/the-cancer-drugs-fund-is-producing-dangerous-bad-data-randomise-everyone-everywhere/ (Accessed 11 February 2018).

Management and Organisation in the Classroom

Organisation and Management:

  • Having tables of 4 or 6 helps avoid noise during the lessons. I would also make sure children get to sit with people they get along with, but if it becomes too chatty it is good to mix the groups to ensure children are focussed and so that they also get a chance to work with others within their class.
  • There are many whiteboards and chalkboards around the class, this allows the teacher to clearly display the Learning Intentions and Success Criteria, as well as putting any notes on the other whiteboards. Although some kids will have their back to the chalkboard and small whiteboard, all of them have a clear view of the smartboard which is what will be used for the majority of the time. If children can’t properly see the smartboard they can become bored and distract themselves with other things. This can also put limitations on their learning.

Use of Resources:

  • There is a located area for all the scissors, glue, rules etc. This allows the children to access resources easily and feel to do so freely. Having these resources out also means the children won’t have to constantly ask the teacher for resources.
  • Keeping the jotters in the same place also allows anyone in the class to hand out work as it is always kept in the same place. Finished work is also kept in the same place, this allows good routine within the class and avoids confusion.

Effective class rules and routines:

  • The class rules are located next to the teacher’s desk, in the front of the class where all pupils can see it. There is also one sheet laminated with all the pupils signature, showing they have agreed to these class rules.
  • The pupils are all expected to know the routines for coming in every morning, from breaktimes and the routine for how the classroom should be left at the end of the day.
  • There are also normal routines such as asking to go to the toilet before leaving the class.
  • Another good routine to have is for the children to have the expectancy to walk around the school quietly, taking into consideration everyone else’s learning.
  • Morning routines are important so that you can get your class settled down and ready for the day, it is also good to keep the class organised, such as doing a morning activity while the lunches and register are taken.
  • Routines are overly very positive to have as it gives children consistency which they may not get anywhere else.

Allocating activities:

  • Giving children specific jobs is beneficial as it gives them a sense of responsibility, while also learning responsibility, which is a big part of social development.
  • Having responsibility also gives the pupils a sense of importance.

Display and Presentation:

  • On the displays there should be topics that have recently been covered, this is so that children can refer back to this if they are getting stuck.
  • I think it would also be good to have displays of the children’s achievements, this would show a good classroom ethos. Children would also then feel like a part of the class and feel a good sense of community.
  • Having on display what the pupils will be doing throughout the day is also very beneficial as they can be prepared and aware of what thy can expect throughout the day.

Overall organisation in the classroom is important, it reduces stress for the teacher, promotes good behaviour management, and promotes a good learning environment for the pupils.