Science V-Portfolio

Here I have linked the v-portfolio which I created for my MA3 science elective. The aim of the v-portfolio was to become a confident science communicator, and to generally engage ourselves with science. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and feel as though I will explore videoing within my future primary classroom, not only within science but within multiple curricular areas. I also feel a lot more confident in my own science teaching abilities.

Mathematical Language.

This week, I chose to look at the children’s book ‘Ten Apples Up On Top’, by Dr. Seuss.

The book explores many mathematical concepts, such as:

  1. Counting to 10
  2. Counting forwards
  3. Counting backwards
  4. Counting in ones

The majority of the mathematical language which is explored within the book, is the written words for the numbers one, through to ten. I feel that this makes the book perfectly suited to the early years, when introducing and reinforcing counting.

Props which I felt could be used alongside the book are:

  • The apples. Children could use apples, like in the story, and count how many they have. The numbers of apples should vary when comparing the amount of apples each child has. The children can practice addition and subtraction, for example – ‘If I have 4 apples and give away/receive 2, how many do I have now?’
  • The children can then move on to  practicing with numbers higher than 10, when they reach an appropriate level.

The vocabulary which is used throughout this book seems fairly suitable for an early years classroom, as the mathematical language which is used is mostly only for the numbers one to ten. However, if I was to use this book in the classroom, I would keep a focus on the sentence structures within the book, as sentences are often structured differently to what we would expect, in order to fit the rhyme. It would be important, especially within an early years environment, that the children do not begin to follow those patterns within their everyday writing.



What is Scientific Literacy?

“Scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity.”
While this is a definition of scientific literacy, once you begin to look into what it means to be scientifically literate, it is easy to see that it is a little shallow. Being literate in science is about being able to question so-called science based on our knowledge; evaluating scientific stories and discoveries made every day. It is the critical analysis of science that makes us scientifically literate, not the ability to blow things up in a lab. While the UK is above average in terms of literacy rates (OECD study), the curriculum in England is beginning to put more emphasis on scientific literacy, and teachers and pupils alike are beginning to notice the change. Based more in secondary than primary education, teachers notice that while it is trickier to teacher, they believe it is more worthwhile. In terms of primary schools, the teacher is essential in building up scientific literacy among children (Shulman 1987), and therefore as training teachers, it is our responsibility to ensure we educate ourselves in terms of science as much as possible.
In 1998 Andrew Wakefield published a fraudulent report claiming that he combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine could be linked to causing colitis and autism amongst children. The media were quick to publish the story and vaccination rates fell rapidly putting children at severe risk. The public instantly believed the findings as Wakefield was seen as a figure to trust resulting in his publishing not being questioned. One flaw with his experiment was that he only used 12 children for the experiment and some of these children had previous underlying medical conditions which were not taken into account before the experiment (he also did not disclose this information to the general public). This is a good example of science illiteracy as members of the public did not evaluate the quality of the science. Many people did not question the findings or see the flaws within the experiments and as a result put their own children’s lives at risk. Perhaps if we were a more science literate nation controversies and scandals like the 1998 MMR vaccine be avoided.
It is important that when teaching science, children are taught about fair testing. Without having a sound knowledge of fair testing children would struggle to do anything else in science. Being scientifically literate means having the ability to use scientific knowledge, and so in order to learn how to use and apply your knowledge you must first understand fair testing. A lot of science work within the classroom is practical and involves experiments. Science experiments require fair testing in order for them to provide accurate results, and so if children are not taught the importance of fair testing then they will not be able to develop their knowledge and understanding of science

References – (Explanation of the concept of scientific literacy)

Written by, Katie Smith, Emma Kilpatrick, Layla Dawson and Sean Mckinnon.

Reflection on Feedback.

In my opinion, the process of feedback is vital. Receiving feedback allows you to develop an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and also gives you the opportunity to improve upon any weaknesses. It is a very beneficial process, not only to the person receiving feedback but also to the person giving the feedback. By reflecting on someone else’s work you can gain a deeper understanding of their views and opinions, and can compare these with your own to see how they are similar and how they differ. This then helps you to reflect and analyse your own work in the same way, and allow you to spot the strengths and weaknesses in your work and improve upon them yourself.

For me, the most important advantage of feedback is being able to gain constructive advice from your peers. It can be extremely difficult to look back on your own work and pick out areas which need changed, and so someone else taking a look at your work and making it clear where these areas are can be extremely helpful. Feedback does also not only apply to the piece of work which it is received upon, if one piece of feedback is reflected upon the advice received can be transferred to other items of work to allow you to continue improving. Positive feedback is also useful as receiving praise can really better the individuals self-confidence.

From personal experience, I have found feedback to be a really useful process. I can often find it difficult to reflect on my own work and so having someone to provide me with constructive feedback really helps me to improve upon my work. However, I do find that feedback is not always helpful, as people can either be overly nice or overly critical. When being overly nice with feedback it really provides no useful comments and so does not help you when trying to improve. However, being overly critical is also not beneficial as all it does is knock the individuals confidence. If the entire feedback is negative then the individual is not going to feel good about their abilities, and so their self-confidence will decrease.

This post has helped me to reflect on my own thoughts about feedback and I have realised how important it is. When I become a teacher providing feedback will be a large part of my career. It will be important that I supply pupils with advice to help them improve their work, but also with enough praise to allow them to see their own skills and abilities. I hope that I can provide my pupils with feedback which will boost their confidence to make them feel good about themselves and their work.


Active Learning and Co-operative Working.

In my opinion, active learning is very beneficial. One of the most important benefits to active learning is that it develops a positive attitude towards learning. It is very common for people to associate education with stress, for example when it comes to exams, however active learning provides the opportunity to associate learning with fun and play. This is beneficial to you as you are more likely to retain and remember information by engaging with learning through the school year, rather than trying to memorise everything last minute for an exam. I also feel the by engaging with your learning you will develop more confidence towards you own knowledge and understanding of topics.

Personally, I think that co-operative working is a very useful teaching strategy as it provides an opportunity for people of different levels of ability to use a wider range of learning techniques to better their knowledge of a topic. Co-operative working gives each member of the group a sense of responsibility – you feel responsible for learning what you are being taught, and also for teaching your peers and trying to help them to develop their understanding. Co-operative working is also a beneficial strategy as it helps pupils to get to know each other better and so can develop relationships between peers. Co-operative learning allows for discussion between peers and so can cover a large range of viewpoints and give a wider insight into topics, allowing pupils to see all aspects and potentially discuss aspects which the teacher has not covered. Working as a group also improves communication skills and so is not only beneficial in the school environment but in social situations as well.

The Enquiring Practitioner

Practitioner enquiry is to investigate with a set of reasons which can be explained and justified. The results of these investigations can then be shared amongst colleagues, and therefore practitioner enquiry appears to hold more value than reflection. As a group, the practitioners will develop a common question, then will all research this are from different viewpoints as this improves knowledge creation and understanding.

Practitioner enquiry has many benefits to it, for example, it allows teachers to notably better the quality of their students’ learning experiences by making important changes to the curriculum. Practitioner enquiry also enables teachers to work collaboratively and so they can not only work together to develop the curriculum but also to learn from each other to help develop their own skills and abilities.

However, there are also challenges with practitioner enquiry, such as certain members of the group feeling uncomfortable to speak out or overpowered by another member, and so it is important that everyone’s opinions are respected and that everyone is given an opportunity to speak. Another challenge when implementing practitioner enquiry is that the older generation of teachers may find it difficult to adapt to this new way of thinking, whereas the newer generation will be more familiar with it. The older generation of teachers will not have been trained with this new method and so may find it extremely challenging to change their whole mind-set.

Personally, I feel that as a student teacher I can include practitioner enquiry into my training and therefore will be more accustomed to this way of thinking. This will benefit me as I will not struggle when it comes to working collaboratively with my colleagues and sharing my opinions with them. It will also allow me to take on board the suggestions and ideas of others and therefore could allow me to develop my knowledge and also abilities to help me become a fully qualified teacher.

Qualities of a Professional Teacher.

I feel that to be a professional teacher it is necessary that you have patience. Some children may take longer to understand certain subjects or pieces of information and it is vital that you are patient and take the time to fully explain so that they understand and learn from your teaching. During school, I found that in particular subjects I would require the teacher to explain things in a little more depth before I fully understood, and this would only help my learning if the teacher had the patience to spend extra time on the same thing. Many teachers wouldn’t do this and I would therefore struggle in their subjects. I feel that it is unacceptable for a teacher to act this way. As a teacher it is your job to make sure that all pupils can work and learn to the best of their ability, and without the patience to do so you are not fulfilling your role as a professional teacher. In my opinion, a professional teacher would consider their teaching style to make sure that it is meeting the needs of all learners, remembering that everyone learns in different ways – visually, orally and kinaesthetically.

Another quality which I feel is vital for a teacher to possess is fairness. Teachers must have the ability to treat all children equally. Teachers must take a fair approach, for example when it comes to behaviour, and ensure that all children are disciplined equally. From my own experience of primary school, I found that many of the male pupils in my class would receive harsher discipline than the females, even though they were being punished for the exact same thing. I find this to be extremely unprofessional as a teacher should make a conscious effort to ensure that all of her pupils are treated equally. It is also a requirement that as a teacher you must adhere to the Equality Act 2010 and so this helps to guarantee that all teachers will be fair.

An extremely important virtue for a professional teacher to hold is respect. Teachers must be able to show their pupils that they respect everyone around them, no matter what religion or culture they belong to. Respect is a quality which everybody should have, and so if teachers reinforce this idea with their own actions, children are more likely to follow and respect others. Teachers should always consider themselves to be role models for their pupils and so they should model this virtue alongside all of the others so that children can learn from it.

Personally, I feel that empathy is a very important quality in being a professional teacher. Being empathetic allows teachers to understand their pupils’ emotions and gives them the ability to relate to them. Pupils will originate from various cultures and backgrounds and so teachers need to be able to understand each individual’s situation as this will help the children to feel more comfortable to discuss any problems which they might be having at home. It is necessary to keep professional boundaries between student and teacher, but learners should see their teacher as someone that they can approach if they need or want to. Having empathy can help the children to understand that they are not alone and that the things that they are feeling are normal.

I feel that integrity is an important characteristic for a professional teacher to have. Integrity is the quality of honesty and having strong moral principles and so it is necessary for the teacher to have these so that the pupils can be educated to act in the same way. Pupils should see their teachers as a figure to look up to and so integrity allows teachers to be a role model for their pupils.

I have chosen these five qualities to be the most important from the list, however I believe that all of the qualities listed are important and that they should come naturally to a professional teacher.

Professionalism and the Online World.

One challenge that I may be faced with when marrying the personal vs the professional presence on social media is that parents or pupils may find personal accounts. Nowadays a lot of people have accounts on various social media sites. As a student teacher I believe that it is imperative that any social media accounts are kept completely private. It is also crucial that the individual is aware of what is acceptable when posting things on social media sites. This will help to maintain a professional image as a teacher. Teachers should be cautious of what they post and who may see it at all times remembering that not only the children, but their parents too may be active on social media sites.

I think that as a teacher it would be a good idea to have a personal account which is kept private and can only be viewed by friends and family. If however there is a need to have an account which can be viewed by parents and pupils, this should be kept professional and should not have any posts which give out any personal details. I think that the use of social media accounts to keep in contact with pupils and parents can be very useful, for example, when my year group went on a school trip to Italy my teacher set up a facebook group which included all of the pupils, and parents if they wished to be involved. This group was then used to post important information about the trip whilst it was being planned and also whilst we were there so that the teachers could ensure that the parents had regular updates of how our trip was going. This worked really well and everyone found it to be an extremely easy way to organise our trip.

Another reason why I think teachers social media accounts should be kept private is that some children may attempt to contact them over the internet. This can be a very challenging issue for teachers to deal with. Pupils should be able to speak to teachers in school if they are having any issues or have any questions to ask, they should not attempt to speak to teachers over social media. This helps to maintain a professional boundary between the pupil and the teacher, there should be a professional relationship present and not a friendship.

However, I feel that if teachers use social media correctly it can be an effective tool when highlighting the importance of internet safety to pupils. Due to the advancement of technology, most children are very up to date with the latest internet trends and so I believe that it is important that all children know the dangers of social media as this is a current issue where children are at risk. In my opinion the use of social media to highlight these dangers would be effective as it is something that pupils are ­­­familiar with and so they may find it easier to understand just how serious the issue is and how much they are at risk.

Having grown up in a world where social media is constantly becoming more popular I understand the dangers of it and how to use it appropriately. I am aware that becoming a teacher carries with it a certain responsibility with regards to social media and ensuring that all children know how to use it safely. I hope to continue to use my knowledge of social media throughout my teaching career.

How my gender affected my experience of Primary School.

Personally, I feel that my gender did not have much of an impact on my experience of Primary School. I was fortunate enough to attend a Primary School which allowed all of the pupils, male or female, to be equal. It was very uncommon for our Primary to split pupils into all male or all female groups, apart from when it came to sports. Our sports teams were always split into groups based on genders, for example the boys could play football and the girls could play netball. At the time we all felt that this was normal and so thought nothing of it but looking back I can see that this was unfair. Children should be allowed to choose the sport which interests them and not be told which they have to participate in due to their gender.

Apart from being separated during sports, our Primary School was very fair when it came to gender, every pupil was made to feel equal at all times. I am also lucky enough to come from a family that has always supported me in everything I do and who have always encouraged me to be myself and so I never felt as though I had to act in a specific way just because I am female. I have always been encouraged to act in a way that makes me happy, and not to please others. In my opinion, Primary Schools should take the same approach and teach children that it is your individuality that matters and not your gender.

Why I chose teaching.

For as long as I can remember I have been inclined towards the teaching profession. I feel that the role of a teacher is to have a positive impact on the lives of young people and to provide them with the high standard of education which they deserve. Without education, children would not learn the most important of life skills, for example the ability to socialise within society and so the impact that a teacher has on children’s lives is extremely large. I feel that becoming a teacher will give me the chance to give children a positive school experience and allow them to leave primary school with knowledge and skills that they will continue to use throughout their adult lives. I would like to educate children in a way which they will enjoy as I feel that children will gain more from a positive experience. Another reason that I would like to become a teacher is that this role would provide me with the opportunity to witness first hand the progress that the children in my class are making because of my lessons.

I would like to become the type of teacher who takes an active role within the classroom. As a pupil I experienced teachers who were disengaged when in the classroom and this is not the type of education that pupils require. For me, the perfect teacher is someone who takes the time to ensure that each individual is coping within the classroom and working to their own capabilities and so these are qualities which I would like to possess as a teacher. I am extremely interested in inclusion and so would like to think that as a teacher I would take it upon myself to ensure that every pupil is supported appropriately for their own individual needs and that each child can participate within the classroom. I hope that I can be the type of teacher that children will look up to and see as a role model. I’d like to be a teacher that can make learning fun, exciting and stimulating for the children, but for it to still remain challenging and beneficial. Overall my aim as a teacher will be to inspire children to want to learn.