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.

Health and Wellbeing

The main messages sent in Suzanne Zeedyk and John Carnochas videos, was all to do with the importance of early brain development in children. Both videos explained that babies are born prematurely compared to most mammals. Because of this baby’s brains are not only more fragile but also more flexible. They are not fully developed, and they continue to develop not only because of genetic codes but they also develop based on the relationships and environments they are presented with. As teachers we need to take into consideration that there are consequences to the brains we are asking children to develop. The pathways the brain makes in early years, will be the pathways that continue onto adulthood. If a child lives with domestic violence where there is a lot of shouting their brain has to develop to cope with those situations. Their brain is constantly monitoring when the next threat comes from, so they can’t have learn about a lot of other things in the world as they are too busy looking for threat. Cortisol: helps to cope with stress, if have this hormone all the time it starts to swamp the brain with the stress hormone. Brain is almost drowning in stress hormone.

We have to carefully consider the environment we present to children because their brains will develop in response to this environment. As Suzanna Zeedyk says in the video: “If we are giving them a world that is calm and predictable then their brain is developing in this and they will carry on this motorway system into adulthood and expect everything to be calm and predictable.”  Children need consistency in their life, and their only chance to have that may be in the classroom. If children haven’t built relationships it can have a very negative impact on them, they can then struggle to build relationships all throughout their life.

As teachers we need to consider what kind of brains we are asking children to develop and what kind of motorway systems we want them to develop. The pathways that are created in their brains need to give them the ability to make decisions, communicate with others and also empathise with others.

Semester 1 Reflection

 

Reflect on one of the most important moments for your professional development in semester 1 and write a post about what you think you have learned from this critical incident and what the process of reflection is beginning to mean to you.

One of the most important moments for me in my professional development during semester 1, was when writing the values essay. This was the first essay I had to write at a University level standard. At first, I was really excited about writing the essay, this was because I had enjoyed the module so much and learnt quite a lot of new things. I had not only learnt about values in our society but also about myself and my values, trying to identify what they are, though this was quite a challenge.

I firstly had decided to write my essay based on gender and gender equality, although it was something I was really interested in, I found that I didn’t have much resources to evidence what I was saying. So, I took all this on board and made the decision to base my essay on poverty, as I had much more knowledge I this area and resources.

Reflecting back, I believe it was a very professional decision. In the end I was very pleased with my essay, but I was much to worried about referencing. The referencing I had left slightly too late, so it took up a lot of my time as I had never used that sort of referencing before, neither had any of my peers so we were all mostly guessing.  This meant that proof reading the essay was rushed and lead to silly grammar mistakes. So, when writing an essay again I will now keep a better record of resources and not rush the proof reading, making sure silly mistakes don’t lose me marks in my final grade, I will also seek the advice of peers in year groups above me as they are more experienced and can give help when it comes to referencing.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland states that it is vital to critically examine personal and professional attitudes and challenge assumptions. I believe that during the values module I started to critically look at this, challenging my own assumptions. I hadn’t realised how much stereotypes were built into society and how much my unconscious biases were adding onto this. I know am much more aware of things that I may think and say, I realise this is extremely important in the teaching profession.

Resource Allocation Workshop – Reflection

Our first workshop for MA1 Education withing the Values: self, society and the professions took place on Tuesday the 19th of September. It was one of the most confusing workshops to start off with but once we understood the reason behind the workshop it was a very good lesson, and a good way to bring the message of the workshop across.

We were all split into different groups and given an envelope with resources. We were all asked to open up our envelopes and see what was inside. My group had an elastic band, some blue tac, one sticky note, two paper clips and a pen. Everyone else around us had more, and one group had much more than anyone else. The task was to create something that would help 1st year students like ourselves. With such limited resources our group decided to create a map with all the places to go during your freshers week, it also gave you different challenges to complete, such as joining a society.

Once we were all finished we had to present what we had produced to Derek. This is when it became clear that Derek was treating each group differently and unfairly, when the first group was presenting to everyone else they received a lot of praise from Derek, as he went round everyone’s groups the amount of resources the groups had lessened as did Derek’s attention to what they were saying.

Because our group was the one that received the least amount of praise and had the smallest amount of resources we became really frustrated, I became quite confused and started thinking we had done something wrong. when Derek started paying more attention to his phone than what we had to say that’s when we all became quite agitated. The confidence of the first group who had received most resources and praise grew throughout the workshop, while the last group who received no praise, no attention even became less confident and also quite frustrated.

Once everyone was finished Derek explained that his performance was to demonstrate that in our profession we will come across children who have less and children who have more, from different cultures and backgrounds. How much children have, where they are from or what they believe in should not affect the way teachers treat them, they should all receive an equal amount of support and praise. Children shouldn’t be limited because of resources, but should all be treated equally, receiving support so that they can grow in their learning but also grow in themselves. Our job as teachers is to help every child reach their full potential.

After everyone in the workshop understood the reasoning behind the input, he asked if anyone had noticed what was happening. My group had noticed quite quickly but the group;s that had received more resources were too focused on completing the task, not taking into consideration that they could share their resources, and help those who had less.

Overall, I think this was a really effective way of demonstrating that not all children will come into our classrooms with the same upbringing, with the same resources or the same background and as teachers we must not create a gap between children and treat them differently, we should treat them all equally and give them the same opportunities.