While scrolling through facebook earlier today, I came across this photo in a post about children getting dirty while learning.
I was immediately reminded of a lesson I had taught in my P7 class on placement, and sent it straight to the class teacher who had been my mentor, having a little giggle.
The lesson was Science, and was the cornflour and water experiment (or Oobleck, as my class told me it was called). If you’ve not seen this done, it’s pretty cool and left those in my class who had never seen it before really excited by it. Unfortunately, it also left the carpet, desks and pupil’s skirts/trousers/cardigans very messy. But the main thing is, it got the class excited. They wanted to learn, they wanted to do the lesson. Every single pupil who was in the room was engaged, which was extremely rare in the class I was teaching.
Yes, the children went home and had to wash their uniform on a Monday night. Yes the cleaner was probably not my biggest fan that night (I avoided hanging around long enough to see him/her). But I can honestly say it was probably one of the most stimulating lessons I taught in my time at the school, and probably one of few lessons they would remember for longer than 24 hours.
*I did do my best to clean the carpet while the children did try their best to get as much out of their clothes as they could before going home*
Reflective Activity 1: making links between the IB curriculum and CfE.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) is a programme of education which covers children from the ages of 3 to 19. Like the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) programme which covers children from age 3 to 18, the IB holds various aims. The aims of the IB are as follows:
- To develop young people who are curious, knowledgeable and solicitous who can help towards producing a better and more peaceful world through better understanding and respecting all cultures.
- To work with schools; governments and international organisations to develop stimulating programmes of global education and rigorous assessment.
- To inspire students worldwide to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who appreciate that other people, with their differences, can also be right.
(International Baccalaureate, 2015).
Similar to this, the aim of the CfE is to help children and young people develop the knowledge, skills and attributes needed for life in the 21st century, including skills for learning, life and work (Education Scotland, Undated). Both of these programmes are aiming to support young people to enjoy learning by making education relevant and providing children with lifelong skills. In both IB and CfE, the learner is at the centre and creating a learner that is going to be passionate about their lifelong education is the main purpose.
Reflective Activity 2: IB’s core attributes and the CfE’s 4 capacities
The IB’s learner profile outlines 10 core attributes which all IB learners should endeavour to be:
(International Baccalaureate, 2013)
Together, these qualities define what it means to be internationally minded and will support learners in becoming responsible members of worldwide communities.
In the CfE, we look at the 4 capacities:
- Successful learners;
- Confident individuals;
- Responsible citizens;
- Effective contributors
(Education Scotland, Undated).
These are both similar ideas in that both programmes believe that these are the qualities that young people need to enable them to make a difference in the future. Looking at the Responsible Citizens factor of the CfE, this gives children the opportunity to develop knowledge and understanding of the world, different cultures and beliefs. This is similar to where the IB aim for children to be open-minded and appreciate all different cultures and beliefs. Similarities occur like this when looking at all 10 of the attributes in IB – the majority can be slotted under one of the 4 capacities. However, when looking at these I did notice that the main difference between these is that IB looks at everything in a worldwide sense, as opposed to CfE’s more local focus.
The IB’s attribute of being open-minded holds a focus on developing appreciation for all cultures, which is something that I witnessed taking place throughout my first-year placement (Cambridge High School, 2015). Whilst I was there, the class learned about Jewish cultural and were also moving on to explore Indian cultural towards the end of my time there. Upon seeing this as well as teaching some lessons on this, I realised how important it is that children are taught about different cultures in order to understand and respect others around them. Another of the core attributes of the IB is to be caring (Cambridge High School, 2015). In terms of providing service within the community, I have both participated in this myself and also seen it happening within a volunteering position in a school. At my high school, a group of musicians would attend a bowling club and a care home each Christmas and perform for them. While volunteering in a school, early year classes were given the opportunity to go to a local park and plant flowers or vegetables. These are both ideas which can teach children and young people how to be a valued member of a community.
Reflective Activity 3: Educational trends
On initial glance at the progressive trends documentation of the IB, I could see links to the CfE in words such as “student choice” and “child-centred” (International Baccalaureate, 2017). Upon looking longer, I was reminded a little bit of the 7 principles of the CfE (Education Scotland, Undated). For example, student choice fits well together in the personalisation and choice principle. I have witnessed elements of student choice in classrooms in terms of children being given a choice of topic occasionally, or what their next sport would be to focus on in PE. Another of the progressive trends which is also seen is some CfE schools is open-plan rooms. These are great for the idea of learning being child-centred, as not all children can learn in an enclosed space, so having an open area allows them the opportunity to spread their learning further in a way.
Another of the progressive trends is constructivism. This is an educational theory which was developed by Vygotsky and suggested that learning is a process which requires collaboration in order to work (Cremin et al, 2014). The importance of this is gradually become acknowledged more and more and is something which can be seen in a CfE classroom through groupwork and discussions.
I’m sure that these are only a few of the ways that the progressive trends align with the CfE, but they are the ones that jumped out at me first when I read the list.
Reflective Activity 4: PYP and CfE
- In the PYP programme, children learn more than 1 language once they are at the age of 7. Within the CfE, a first additional language is brought in usually in primary one (age 5). The Scottish Government is beginning to bring in a ‘1+2 Approach’ to languages which means that children will be introduced to their first additional language in primary one and then a second additional language from no later than primary 5. This is in line with the CfE and the hope to enable the young people of the future to communicate globally more effectively.
- Another similarity between the PYP and the CfE curricula is their subject areas:
Ø Social Studies
Ø Arts (Expressive Arts under CfE)
Ø Personal, Social and Physical Education (Health and Wellbeing under CfE)
While these are the shared subject areas, CfE includes two more subject areas: Religious and Moral Education (RME); and Technologies. The PYP framework does mention that technologies is something that is a focus in their curriculum, but unlike the CfE they do not have a specific lesson for this rather it is incorporated throughout their learning.
- Both PYP and CfE understand the importance of outdoor learning and ensure that this is incorporated into lessons.
- Both curricula have a focus on learning being child-centred and being relevant to life – this being one of the seven principles of CfE and being incorporated into the six transdisciplinary themes of PYP.
- The biggest difference I have noticed between the two curricula is that, although the CfE does consider a global effect of learning in terms of learning about different cultures in RME and learning languages, the PYP is a lot more focussed on the global effect of every aspect of each child’s learning.
- The PYP curriculum is used for children age 3-12. The CfE is split into levels. Generally between the ages of 3 and 5 children will be working at early level; age 5 to 8 will be working at first level; and age 9 to 12 will be second level. However, these are not set in stone. Some children may be 9 and still working at first level, for example.
- Another thing which I have noticed is that within PYP transdisciplinary learning is largely spoken about; whereas in CfE we talk about interdisciplinary learning. Despite trying to research the difference between these two terms I am struggling to understand fully what this is and so look forward to learning more about it.
Cambridge High School (2015) What is an IB Education. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZPi2-x0zkc (Accessed: 05/09/18).
Cremin, T. and Arthur, J. (2014) Learning to Teach in the Primary School. New York: Routledge.
Education Scotland (Undated) What is Curriculum for Excellence. Available at: https://education.gov.scot/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-(building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5)/What%20is%20Curriculum%20for%20Excellence? (Accessed: 24/08/18).
International Baccalaureate Organization (2013) The IB learner profile. Available at: http://www.ibo.org/contentassets/fd82f70643ef4086b7d3f292cc214962/learner-profile-en.pdf. (Accessed: 25/08/18).
International Baccalaureate Organization (2015) What is an IB education? Available at: http://www.ibo.org/globalassets/digital-tookit/brochures/what-is-an-ib-education-en.pdf. (Accessed: 25/08/18).
International Baccalaureate Organization (2017) The History of the IB. Available at: https://www.ibo.org/globalassets/digital-tookit/presentations/1711-presentation-history-of-the-ib-en.pdf (Accessed: 26/08/18)
In our last science workshop, we were focusing on scientific literacy. For our TDT, we were asked to form groups of 4 and write a short essay focusing on what scientific literacy is, the importance of it and how it links to science in schools.
Explanation of the concept of scientific literacy
Scientific Literacy is the knowledge and understanding of processes in science. It involves pupils being aware of and being able to identify skills and concepts associated with science which allows them to make informed decisions relating to science (National Science Educational Standards). It focuses on giving young people a wider variation of skills and knowledge whilst encouraging them to explore the question of ‘Why’ things happen.
Scientific literacy highlights ways in which we understand how to critically think of the modern world in a way which allows us to be creative whereas science literacy focuses more on embedding facts into pupils and the end result (Maienschein, 1998).
Within schools scientific literacy is at the centre of the curriculum standards for science as it moves away from the standard science curriculum enhancing understanding and allows us to change the way in which we teach science and thus learn it. Smith (2011) highlight that often science is the first subject which people forget about when they leave school. It is hoped that the progression of scientific literacy will make learning science more interesting and will embed new knowledge and skill into young people so that they can carry on these skills to future learning.
Analysis of an example of where a lack of scientific literacy has led to inaccurate media reporting
Being scientifically illiterate can lead to inaccurate media reporting and have a severely negative effect on society. A famous example of this was Dr Andrew Wakefield’s research (1998) which claimed there was a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism. His paper was retracted due to fixed and fraudulent results and other scientific papers have shown no link between the MMR vaccine and autism (Taylor et al., 1998). The supposed link with autism heavily influenced vaccination rates as between 1996 and 2004, rates fell from approximately 92% to 80% despite the target being 95% to stop the spreading of the disease (BBC, 2015). Due to the fall in numbers of people being vaccinated, there were a number of breakouts all over the country. The herd immunity effect was not in place, meaning that since a significant percentage of the population were not vaccinated, the chances of a non- immune individual coming into contact with an infectious individual were increased. This shows the importance of scientific literacy as it can affect society as a whole.
Discussion of how teaching fair testing in school science links to scientific literacy
It is important to conduct fair tests as it is the essential part of doing a good scientifically valuable experiment, ensuring you only change one factor at a time while keeping the rest of the conditions the same (Science Buddies). This is important for us as teachers, that we ensure our pupils are shown the importance of fair testing, so it helps their understanding and development of science literature. Although it is not always the most interesting science experiments it covers the most important aspects of scientific literacy, it is important pupils are taught this to gain skills throughout experience (Fizzics Education). Fair testing gives children an opportunity to be taught in a way to give them a better understanding of what scientific literacy is. It is considered vital as it ultimately gives pupils a better understanding of what scientific literacy is hence why it is important the pupils learn about fair testing.
It is clear to see the importance of scientific literacy being taught through science experiments in school and that they are given a deeper understanding of what they are learning in terms of science. This will allow them to develop their skills and understanding of the basics so they can continue to enhance their understanding of science throughout their school lives. As shown above, if scientific literacy is not present, there can be serious misunderstandings which can cause issues to numerous people in terms of health or perhaps other issues. By teaching about fair testing to children at a young age, this will help them understand why we carry out certain experiments and what their purpose is thus showing us that scientific literacy is vital to a pupils understanding and should be a main focus in schools.
Anna Mcewan, Eilidh Purdie, Robyn Risbridger and Hazel Neill
BBC (2015) Childhood MMR vaccination rates fall. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-34335509 (Accessed: 09 February 2018)
Fizzics Education (no date) Available at: https://www.fizzicseducation.com.au/Blog/x_post/Variables–fair-testing-teaching-the-heart-of-science-experiments-00085.html (Accessed: 11 February 2018).
Maienschein, J. (1998). ‘Scientific Literacy’, Science, pp.917. Available at: http://science.sciencemag.org.libezproxy.dundee.ac.uk/content/281/5379/917 (Accessed: 4 February 2018).
National Research Council. (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Science Buddies (no date) Available at: https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/science-fair/doing-a-fair-test-variables-for-beginners (Accessed: 11 February 2018).
Smith, K. (2011). Scientific Literacy Under the Microscope: A Whole School Approach to Science Teaching and Learning. Australia: Sense Publishers.
Taylor, B ; Miller, E ; Farrington, C P ; Petropoulos, M C ; Favot-Mayaud, I ; Li, J ; Waight, P A. (1999) ‘Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association’, Lancet, Vol.353(9169), pp.2026-9
Wakefield, A.J., Murch, S.H., Anthony, A., Linnell, J., Casson, D.M., Malik, M., Berelowitz, M.,
Dhillon, A.P., Thomson, M.A., Harvey, P. and Valentine, A. (1998) ‘RETRACTED: Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children’, The Lancet, Vol.351(9103), pp. 637-641.
I started off first semester feeling a mixture of being excited and nervous. I was excited at the thought of beginning my journey to my dream job, but nervous in case I found it difficult making friends since I was staying at home. I had been at University for a year already, so knew roughly what to expect in terms of the work being completely on your own back and was aware of how much reading would be required. I used freshers week as my opportunity to get some friends for starting lectures. I knew there were others who would be staying at home so I got a group of people together and we met for a night out at the beginning of the week. This group gradually grew throughout the semester and I am so glad I decided to send that message in to the whole year group chat.
Once friends were sorted, I felt a bit more relaxed. I knew I had people to speak to and sit beside, so I immediately was more confident going in to our first lecture. I started off the Working Together module negatively. I had heard some comments from other year groups and so, rather than waiting to form my own decision, I let their opinions be mine. I felt like all I had to do was get through this module, get a pass, that was all that mattered. I could see that it was relatively important but only when we went for our visit day did I see the real importance.
I had my visit at the Crescent. This has Social Work, CLD, and health care workers all in one building with a Primary School directly across the road. The set up was fantastic and theoretically should have allowed collaborative working to happen very easily. However, as we had a discussion and asked our questions to a small team of Social Workers and one CLD member, we quickly realised this was not the case. They were very much as separate as they would have been if they remained in different buildings. They didn’t like our use of the word “collaborative” which I think really put a lot of us off track as we were there to discuss collaborative working.
This was an important experience for me in first semester because it made me realise how important and useful this module really can be. We started out our journey through University working together and getting to know people from the other courses, so we know how we can work with them to our advantage and the children’s advantage when we are working in our chosen profession. Having seen the difference it makes having a collaborative approach and not a closed mindset towards the other two professions made me reflect upon the real importance of the Working Together module.
When I turned up at the first Values seminar and chose a table to sit at, I had no idea how much my choice of seating would affect the next hour of my life. We were split into 5 groups and each group was given an envelope. The task was to come up with something that would help a fresher settle in to university, using only what was in our envelope. I knew as soon as our envelope was put down that something wasn’t right – I had noticed how bulky group 1’s was as it was placed on their table. We proceeded to open our almost empty envelope to find a paperclip, one post-it note, an elastic band and a pencil. From this point onwards, our group gradually became more frustrated and while we tried our best to find something we could create with so little materials, we were all wondering whether Derek had forgotten to put the rest in the envelope. Group 1 had their table covered in paper, loads of pens all over, and they were having no trouble coming up with ideas – the rules were even bent for them to use their own pens. The time came to feed back the ideas each group had come up with and everyone else seemed to have so much materials. After my peer explained our idea, I felt like Derek was not impressed at all.
Once we began using the resources, we were all starting to get very frustrated. Derek kept complimenting the other groups work; particularly group 1. He even handed out biscuits to every group except us and group 5! However, in an attempt to calm the mood, I kept saying it must all be part of the lesson. As each group presented their finished products, we could see Derek starting to get less and less interested, to the point that he was on his phone while people presented. At this point I knew it had to have been a joke because there was no way a lecturer would really do that. When Derek finally asked us if we knew what was going on our group all just burst out laughing, but it turned out that group 1 hadn’t had a clue that they were in a better off position than us.
From a teacher’s perspective, this seminar reiterated the fact that every child in the classroom should be treated equally and fairly. That doesn’t only mean in the sense of being given the same resources, but also in the amount of attention they get and in many other ways too. We don’t always know what level of poverty or wealth a family is living in, or what difficulties a child faces in their home.
This is such an important lesson, and by having us all undertake it in a practical way instead of just reading about it, I am sure I will remember this forever.