Author Archives: Lauren Duncan

Scientific “literacy” ……

So what actually does, “scientific literacy”, mean?

Being literate is ‘the ability to read and write’ (Oxford University Press, 2016). Being able to read and write helps us understand daily processes we wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Without being able to read and write, we wouldn’t understand travel timetables, signs, how to tell the time, how to shop or even be able to sustain a job! To me, this would suggest that the idea of Scientific Literacy means simply to be able to understand the ideas behind science and how to use these ideas to conduct experiments, alike how we use reading and writing to understand variables of the outside world.

Not only does Scientific Literacy mean having an understanding of science, bscienceut also being able to form questions and conclusions from the evidence found through experiments (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2003). Over all, Scientific Literacy means that children understand the words used in science, the process of experiments, why the experiments are being carried out, can come up with their thoughts about the outcomes, and also why it is important that they know this for everyday life. This directly links to some key principles in the Curriculum for Excellence (Education Scotland, 2016). Teachers must ensure that when they are teaching science their pupils are not simply just learning the terms like they may learn a times-table. In order to be Science Literate, the children must understand the depth of what they are learning.

A lack of scientific literacy could mean the development of false scientific conclusions. One of the main examples of this was the MMR vaccine scare. In 1998 an investigation into the three in one vaccine for measles was conducted by, the now discredited, Andrew Wakefield. He came to the conclusion that that vaccine could actually increase a child’s chance of developing autism. This research was released and caused fear in parents who then became hesitant to allow their children to receive the vaccine. It wasn’t until 2004 that an investigation intommr Wakefield’s research took place and it was found to be flawed. The medical records of the children he investigated did not match his research and the paper he published was taken  down.

This is a clear example of how important science literacy is. This spread of false information caused the vaccine rates to drop dramatically and a significant increases in measles, causing many children to suffer unnecessarily. New research found that there was no connection between and vaccine and autism and there are no side effects to the vaccine. However, some parents are still wary of the vaccine and refuse to allow their children to receive it.

The process of fair testing is ensuring there are no deliberate advantages or disadvantages to any variables in an experiment (or, to any pupils in a school!). This ensures that the information gathered is reliable. To guarantee reliability any obvious advantages to any factors are controlled.

An example of this is how high a ball bounces (Prain, 2007). The height of the bounce the ball executes is measured, however the following things are considered:Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 20.29.04

  • “Will the type of ball affect its bounce?”
  • “Will the surface on which it bounces affect the bounce?”
  • “Will the height from which you drop the ball affect its bounce?” (Prain, 2007)

These three variables are changed and the experiment is carried out more than once. This, therefore, ensures the test is “fair” which all tests should be, and especially in schools. By taking into account all these factors and questioning how they will affect the experiment a person is, therefore, “science literate” as they are understanding the questioning and issues with the experiment.

This TDT was written by – 

AC1 – Rachel Allan – Explanation of the concept of scientific literacy.

AC2 – Catriona Mcphaden –  Analysis of an example where a lack of scientific literacy has led to inaccurate media reporting.

AC3 –  Myself – Discussion of how teaching fair testing in school science links to scientific literacy.

AC4 – Amy Lorimer – A carefully researched and referenced paper on scientific literacy.

References

  • Education Scotland, (2016). Principles – How is the curriculum organised? – Learning and teaching. [online] Educationscotland.gov.uk. Available at: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/learningandteaching/thecurriculum/howisthecurriculumorganised/principles/index.asp [Accessed 28 Jan. 2016].
  • NHS Choices, Ruling on doctor in MMR scare, 2010. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2010/01January/Pages/MMR-vaccine-autism-scare-doctor.aspx
  • OECD, (2003). The PISA 2003 Assessment Framework – Mathematics, Reading, Science and Problem Solving Knowledge and Skills. Paris: OECD
  • Oxford University Press, (2016). literate – definition of literate in English from the Oxford dictionary. [online] Oxforddictionaries.com. Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/literate [Accessed 28 Jan. 2016].
  • Prain, V. (2007) How to interpret multi-modal science texts. Available at: http://www.education.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/5303/linking_science_literacy_strat.pdf (Accessed: 27 January 2016).
  • The story behind the MMR scare, Rory Greenslade, 2013. Available at:http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/apr/25/mmr-scare-analysis
  • Utmb Health, Wakefield Autism Scandal, David Niesel and Norbert Herzog, 2012. Available athttp://www.medicaldiscoverynews.com/shows/237_wakefieldAutism.html

Just Breathe…

When previously considering the role of the teacher, I was guilty of envisioning WHAT they were teaching their class…

Who is really in control of your classroom?

Who is really in control of your classroom?

However, since the very first lecture, it has become very apparent that, yes, the content of a lesson is important, but so is HOW the lesson is delivered.

The presence of the class teacher is important in order to keep control of the class. A strong broad presence projects a great deal of confidence. Whereas a lack of confidence will be apparent to pupils, and they will very quickly learn how to get around your authority.

A great way of establishing your authority is to greet your pupils as they enter your classroom for the day. Simple things such as asking them about something they mentioned they were participating in, or to compliment them coming in will give them a great boost. Even just a smile or a handshake whilst maintaining eye-contact will ensure authority is established before the day begins. It is also extremely useful as it allows you, as a teacher, to spot any child apparently disengaged and obviously not ready to participate in a class lesson. I will definitely be keeping this in mind more placement; especially in terms of my behaviour management goal (detailed here).

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 01.17.08Our voice is our most important tool as a teacher, and as an authoritative figure, it can be damaged fairly easily if we do not take adequate care of it. Many teachers think by talking louder, the children’s attention will be gained quicker, but this is not always the case. It is a natural reaction to shout in reply to bad behaviour but there are other ways of getting the desired attention and behaviour. These include things such as patiently waiting for silence, using  hand gestures or praising the pupils who do comply. By adapting tone and using expression, we can gain our pupils attention just as effectively. Other ways of doing so are by varying our volume, pace and pitch. I feel this will affect my goal of time management in regards to my planning. I will do my best to improvise around disruptions to resolve them and minimise the chance of them happening again.

So yes, our voice is a very important tool in the classroom. Because of this, we need to take care of it! Voice problems are very common such as hoarseness, sore throats and a need for constant throat clearing.

To prevent any problems, teachers should ensure they warm up their voice before the teaching day begins. Interestingly, one of the easiest ways to do so is simply to yawn! But obviously, not in front of your pupils! Vocal exercises are also very effective! Here is a very easy to follow video with some vocal warm-ups: Click Here

If any problems do arise, throat pastilles and breathing steam are life-savers!

I found a few breathing exercises brought up in Nikki Doig’s lecture very interesting. By placing Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 01.13.03your hands above your hips (with your fingers pressed in under your ribs) breathe in through the nose for 3 seconds, hold it for three seconds and then slowly breathe out for three seconds. This is a great relaxation technique! It also alerted to me that I was not breathing correctly! I am very guilty of allowing myself to breathe out of my chest more than my stomach, which can cause a lot of strain! Definitely something I need to re-think before entering the classroom to ensure I am not straining myself.

 

edit **I just taught my dance class with basically no voice. It was a nightmare but definitely goes to show how important voice care is. It was also VERY interesting to see how using a quiet tone of voice can actually be more effective!**

 

To blog or not to blog…

In Friday’s workshop, we were encouraged to read through some of our peers blog posts. Thereto-blog-or-not-to-blog are some excellent examples of commitment, as well as an active interest in sharing thoughts, reflections and classroom ideas. I know many people have fears about sharing their thoughts and learning online, but it is such an easy and effective way, especially for us as student teachers, to develop. 

I really support the ePortfolio, as it has positively encouraged us to comment on our peer
learning groups posts. This has encouraged us to support our peers and comment their blogs; allowing us to practice giving both positive and constructive feedback. It is so rewarding when people take time out of their day to read your work and then leave lovely comments.

We were linked to good examples of our peers posts. I have read some thoroughly enjoyable and interesting posts making use of visual tools. My favourite has to be the use of images. When they relate to the blog entry it makes it so much easier to follow. Michelle Mackie uses a fantastic example of this in her post “problematic problems”. Not only do the pictures she uses relate, but she has wrapped them into her post setting it out in such a clear easy to read manner. I really like how she has included links to further reading. This shows she has read around the subject of mathematics and is willing to share her findings with others. I will definitely consider doing this in future in my posts.

I also find the use of video links to be very eye-catching. In Rachel Billes’ post  “Children are the
real teachers” she has embedded a youtube video into her post. Not only does this draw attention to her post, it is also a very effective visual aid. Beginning something with a video is a great way to grab and keep someones full attention, and she has discussed it so well in her post. 

visFrom reading these and other posts by my peers, I have gained a better understanding on how they are gathering their professional thoughts. It has enabled me to develop a better understanding of things they have discussed, as well as things to go away and research further. I have learnt that not only is it beneficial to share our professional thoughts, but it is necessary for our professional development. I will definitely consider making links to my reading in future posts, as well as continuing to include photographs and videos as I have constantly found them to be effective visual aids. The fact our e-portfolios are allowing us to begin reflecting on our practice at such an early stage is amazing, and will be so beneficial to us. So yes, I think the answer is always to blog.

5 6 7…… DANCE!

I can’t think of anything in this world I am more passionate about than dance. It is literally everything. Understandably so, when I seen dance on the timetable I was ecstatic.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 02.58.42I’ve danced since the age of 3. I’ve been through phases of loving it and hating it – but I honestly don’t know where I would be without it. The places I’ve been and the experiences I’ve had through dancing are incredible, and I’d encourage anyone and everyone to give it a go.

I’ve seen all the sides of it, from different genres to the competition world, championships, shows, international performances, tattoos – you name it. Dance gave me the confidence to keep trying. If I was asked five years ago if I thought I’d be performing in the Royal Edinburgh Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 02.56.28Military Tattoo, or travelling to amazing places such as Oman, Sweden and Germany to perform – of course, my response would be “NO WAY I COULD NEVER DO THAT.” But yes, I did, and I now know that amazing things can be achieved with the right mindset and support.  How did I come to this, though? THROUGH DANCE!

Dance has more benefits than just learning correct technique. The social skills learnt are equally as important, especially to young children. They learn how to respect other dancers as well as their teacher/choreographer, and officials Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 03.00.30when in a competition setting. As a teacher with my own dance school, I thoroughly enjoy watching my students form relationships with each other and seeing their social skills strengthen along with their dancing. Not only that, but they learn to deal with success as well as failure (and how to deal with it), time management, and how to take on board corrections to practice in their own time. Nothing is more encouraging than seeing one of your pupils succeed, but at the same time just seeing them enjoying the process is amazing.

With my understanding of the Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes for Dance, I would put into place an exciting lesson for a primary 5 class, such as:

CfE Outcome: “I can explore and choose movements to create and present dance, developing my skills and techniques.” – EXA 2-08a

Learning Intentions: By the end of the lesson, I will be able to perform a short sequence I have choreographed myself using different actions, different levels and using different rhythms.

Success Criteria: To create a short sequence to music incorporating different levels, ways of travelling and different rhythms. (To develop this in the next two years, the introduction of motifs and choreographic devices such as canons, interpretation and repetition will build on the intentions of this lesson.)

Assessment: To assess if the pupils have achieved the success criteria I would have small groups present their work to their peers and make use of peer evaluation.

How will I achieve this: I will incorporate short activities aimed at introducing the three criterion for success, One activity will involve learning different ways to travel making good use of space across a room. Another will introduce how to incorporate different levels, and what can be done to make them effective. To develop an understanding of rhythm, I would use a clapping activity; simply clapping different rhythms, be it perfect rhythms, imperfect half beat rhythms – to music.

A positive experience of dance is key to enjoying it and I am extremely excited to bring it into my lessons in the primary.

Dancing is moving to the music without stepping on anyone’s toes, pretty much the same as life. ~Robert Brault

Talking and Listening

Talking and Listening in the classroom provides a great opportunity for class discussion. However, this can also cause problems – as in who’s turn it is to speak, and who should be listening.

There are a number of ways to combat this. The simplest being, a set of rules. In my classroom, I would set clear rules from the beginning, so there is no confusion with expectations. My rules would be:talk

  • We talk one at a time
  • We do not interrupt
  • We make eye contact with the speaker
  • We respect everyone’s ideas

I do feel it would be beneficial for the children to make up their own set of rules as a class. Obviously, with a little direction from the teacher to make them sensible. This gives them a sense of feeling included, and may make them more conscious of them – hopefully!

 

If I was to create a lesson plan around the following outcome *see below*, I would base it on the book Katie Morag Delivers the Mail.katie

“I can show my understanding of what I listen to or watch by responding to literal, inferential, evaluative and other types of questions, and by asking different kinds of questions of my own.”LIT 2-07a. 

Learning Intention: To listen to a story and discuss and evaluate the storyline as a class. Also, I will come up with my own questions about the story, as well as discuss my peers’.

Success Criteria: I will be able to listen to and follow the short story. I will be able to come up with my own questions about the story, and answer my peers’.

Assessment: To assess whether ot not the pupils meet the success criteria, I will evaluate how well they listen to the story and how relevant their questions are to the story and discussion.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 04.18.23How will I achieve this? I will use emotive language to engage the children in the story. I will allow them to complete a short paired task related to the story using sequencing cards, so they can gain a better understanding of the storyline. This gives them the opportunity to listen, interact with each other and then bring their learning to a conclusion with a discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Fakebook

google-logoAn interesting input with Sharon led to me discovering a whole host of new search engines. Who knew there was more to the internet than google?!? I think these child-friendly search engines such as Kidsclick and Askkids will be absolute lifesavers for me in the ICT suite.

I have now been introduced to a number of internet safety sites which will be an integral part to my teaching. Safety online is absolutely paramount.

Kidsmart (http://www.kidsmart.org.uk/beingsmart/) is an interactive website where children canScreen Shot 2016-01-19 at 03.31.50 learn how to be safe online. It even has sections for teachers and parents – perfect!! Children can use this website to share their drawings and play games online, all centred around being cyber safe! This is a fantastic site that can be engaged with as a teacher, as well as introducing pupils to engage as well as their parents.

Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 03.33.52We were also introduced to a website called Fakebook. Set out like Facebook but of fake profiles – mostly famous figures. This is a fantastic resource that can be used in the classroom.

I would, for example, use it within a History context. Bringing together both ICT and History!

A figure such as Otto Frank could be used when researching the Second World War. As a teacher, I would create a profile (As if it was actually Otto). By doing so, the children could learn his birthday, where he stays, who his family are and so on.

The classic Facebook themed timeline is perfect for History. As the lessons progress, the teacher could update the class on what Otto Frank and his family are doing – helping them engage in the history of the Franks.

I feel this would be very effective. By using something they are currently being brought around, they will see it as something relatable and want to be involved. It could possibly have its downfalls, however – as adverts do pop up and it is hard to know what they will be before you click on something. These challenges are something we will face regularly, and something asICT-in-School-Wordle-1456uj2 simple as adblockers could prevent.

When I was in a primary 4 class in my sixth year at school, the subject the kids were most passionate about was ICT. As teachers, we need to realise this and ensure we are equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in this digital age.

 

Did you just say… MATHS???!

Well………… Where to start?

Maths has never been a totally positive experience for me. I’ve gone through school constantly being Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 00.40.37told I perform better at English than Maths; and boy, don’t I know it. From moving primary school and not having a clue in the slightest what I’d done and where I should be at, to being sat in front of the brainiest person ever in Standard Grade at high school. One of the worst moments that has really stuck in my mind would have to be seeing the look on my tutors face when she thought I’d taken maths at Higher; honestly – I thought the woman had just had a heart attack. (Luckily, she was a family friend and she was joking, but I still took it to heart)

In our workshop today, we were asked to write down, on a scale of 1 to 10 how confident we are with the subject. My paper, however, did not have enough space to the left of the scale to answer accurately. Like yes, that’s an obvious exaggeration, but I do know I have a lot of work to do regarding my confidence with the subject. The same worried look was obvious on a lot of other’s faces, as well as an obvious excitement to hopefully get over our fear.

I’m unsure why I get so anxious regarding maths. There is no reassurance, though, as apparently getting an A and a 2 in the subject suddenly means I am good at it……. nope. I can fully support the claim that when a teacher dislikes the subject, so do you. In my early years, I can barely remember maths; never mind having enthusiastic lessons on the subject. This avoided ness has sort-of, rubbed off on me – and I don’t think I will ever forgive myself for letting that happen. Just as Derek Haylock (2008) states, my teachers simply went through the motions of working through set textbooks – there was no fun and engaging activities that I see my sisters enjoying now.

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 00.39.38Today, I really enjoyed hearing about how maths can be used across the curriculum. I’d have had a way more positive outlook on maths when I was younger if I’d been told at the end of a P.E lesson that what I was actually doing was maths whilst timing my friends, measuring the tracks distance and counting reps. I would have been way more engaged when it came to the subject If it was highlighted that things such as working out coordinates on a map, measuring liquids in science and making patterns in art, were also MATHS. When I am teaching, I will definitely relate all my learning to practical situations; whether I am in the classroom or outdoors doing an activity. I think it is very important to make connections to consolidate learning.

I took a lot from today’s input. I am excited to learn more about engaging ways to learn. Things such as using interactive whiteboards, practical maths, and especially highlighting when it is being used in other areas of the curriculum. Reflecting on my own experience, I think the most important thing for me is to most definitely NOT teach maths in the way I was taught. I do not want any other child to go through school with a fear of maths like I did. It is up to me as a teacher to remove the maths anxiety in my pupils. To do this, I am going to engage with the OMA, as well as brushing up on my maths in my own time when I get the chance – in the hope of seriously improving my confidence. I feel that my fear of the subject will help me in teaching it as I know what it feels like to struggle with maths. This will, therefore, help me understand the importance of allowing some people working through things slower than others in order to fully understand. I can also see the importance of not only explaining things slowly, logically, clearly and in an interesting way; mathbut also to evaluate – to remember how the answer was reached. I do want to go into the classroom with the best of knowledge, though, not only of the subject but of the different ways to engage pupils to ensure I am teaching it effectively. Tara’s enthusiasm is striking, and it has given me hope that I too can become as enthusiastic as she is about maths. I want to, and I WILL learn to love it as much as she does – whatever it takes.

 

Maths may not teach us how to add love or subtract hate, but it gives us every reason to hope that every problem has a solution. – A very thought provoking quote from today’s input.

 

Haylock, D. W. (2005) Mathematics explained for primary teachers. 3rd edn. London: Sage Publications.