Science Literacy

When one is scientifically literate, they will realise and understand the scientific ideas and methods required to take part in everyday life. Throughout our lifetimes we regularly hear stories about many different issues around the world, such as global warming and new medicines and drugs that have been invented to apparently improve the quality of life. As a scientifically literate person, one must be able to answer things that they question by investigating the answer. These questions come from our inquisitiveness in everyday life.

Scientific literacy suggests that a person can recognise scientific concerns underlying local and national choices and express positions that are scientifically and technologically informed. One who is scientifically literate can display positions that are scientifically and technologically well-versed. They are also able to look at scientific statements and evaluate them by studying their source and procedures, and use this in such a way that they can then put forward arguments to reach a conclusion.

Being science literate means not believing the first thing you hear before you have surrounding evidence to the fact. In 2002, BBC news reported that German scientists had found out that blonde hair would become extinct within the next 200 years as it is a recessive trait. It stated that for “a child to have blonde hair, it must have the gene on both sides of the family in the grandparent’s generation” (BBC News, 2002)

The New York Times, found out later that year that no actual study had been done. Despite this revelation, the study continued to be cited in publications right up until 2006.

This sparked a panic and instantly everyone knew about this, though it was only one study, which turns out to not have even happened. Therefore, you should not trust any fact unless you find more than one reliable study to support the evidence presented in the fact.

I believe that it is important to teach children how scientific experiments can sometimes be “fixed” to derive a preferred outcome. This, is often to fool people into believing something that isn’t true. For example, on the 1st April 1957 the BBC aired a ‘Panorama’ programme which hoaxed thousands of viewers to believing that spaghetti was grown on trees in Switzerland which, anyone who is scientifically illiterate would testify isn’t scientifically possible. For children to develop the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts so that they are able to challenge facts they believe aren’t correct then we, as teachers, must teach fair testing throughout the scientific curriculum. I believe that it’s important to enforce to children that they cannot just take the conclusion from their first experiment which they only carry out once. For reliable results they must repeat the experiment several times to ensure that their conclusions are correct. Thus, building their scientific literacy.

 

 

 

BBC NEWS (2002) Blondes ‘to die out in 200 years’ Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2284783.stm (accessed 26/01/16)

BBC NEWS (1957) BBC Fools the Nation Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/1/newsid_2819000/2819261.stm (Accessed: 8/02/16)

Reflecting on ePortfolios

After reading some examples of other ePortfolios, I have been encouraged to expand and improve on my own. From reading these posts, I particularly like the fact that they are written about topics they enjoy or based on subjects they have seen or read in other resources. For example Lauren Duncan’s post “567…DANCE!” was written on a subject that she is extremely passionate about but she could then link a lesson plan to the SPR requirements.

Another example is Layla Dawson’s post on Fear of Feedback and she talks about a topic that most of us are afraid of but don’t always talk about. I completely agree with her and understand her opinions on giving feedback and she managed to link this into teaching by talking about how we, as teachers, need to give children constructive feedback and also encourage them to overcome the fear they may have and help them give positive and constructive feedback to their peers.

So overall, all the example posts that I have read clearly show the student sharing their professional thoughts and I feel that others will benefit form reading their work as it may give them ideas of what maybe to write on their own blogs but also I feel that reading these blogs has helped me realise that many people have the same opinions and worries as me about certain aspects of the teaching profession, for example maths and giving feedback. And reading them has encouraged me to write and post more than I do on my ePortfolio and share my thoughts with rest of the course.

 

 

Maths

Ollerton (2003) says “Mathematics is beautiful, intriguing, elegant, logical, amazing and mind-blowing; a language and a set of systems and structures used to make sense of and describe the physical and natural world”. On the other hand, “Mathematics is frightening,
boring, debilitating and can appear illogical; a thing many people made, or make, little sense of at school”. I believe that most children would agree with the latter.

To me, maths is one of the subjects that many pupils at primary and secondary school really struggle with. I definitely used to dread when it was time for mental maths or working from the Heinemann textbooks. I think that children are insecure about maths for a number of reasons and children’s confidence is dropped when they think other children are better than maths than others. Young children think that if you are good at maths and science, it means you are more clever than those who are more interested in the creative subjects. I believed this for many years, and probably right up to being in a higher maths class in fifth year, where I felt that everyone in the class chose maths because they wanted to be there as they were applying for courses in Maths, architecture and engineering, whereas I my knowledge was stronger in subjects like art and music. I never used to think I would need maths and everything I was learning was pointless, but recently I’ve been thinking and realising that maths is a very important aspect of everyday life and just as important as reading and writing.

Keogh and Naylor (2004) argue “If we want children to “think out loud”, to be creative and critical in their thinking and to argue about alternative possibilities, then we need to provide the kind of learning environment in which they feel comfortable to do that.  They need to know that they can make mistakes or give wrong answers and still feel good about themselves”. I feel we as teachers need to encourage those children who are less confident with maths to become more enthusiastic by supporting them to learn form their mistakes and find different ways of approaching it. Discussing the subject is a way to get pupils more engaged in their learning and find out different strategies and for them to realise that maybe they aren’t the only ones who find maths challenging.

What is practitioner enquiry?

Menter et al (2011) defines practitioner enquiry as a “‘finding out’ or an investigation with a rationale and approach that can be explained or defended.” It is the process of constantly continuing research and building on your knowledge. This is then shared through collaborative enquiry where a group shares they’re findings from their research with each other.

Working together collaboratively is very useful as it enhancing teachers knowledge for themselves and learning about different ways of working that they might not have thought about and then to pass onto pupils. However, there are some disadvantages. For example, not everyone might enjoy working in groups and sharing ideas and therefore may not participate as fully as expected, some members may be put of by other confident members of the group and therefore become less motivated.

In becoming a teacher, I understand that I will need to engage in practitioner enquiry and be prepared to work in groups and share my ideas . This seems as though it could be challenging at times but I think it is a very useful way of learning.

The benefits of active learning and co-operative working

To me, active learning is a skill we should all be working on to improve. It is one thing taking notes in lectures but for me, and I’m sure many others would agree, the information doesn’t always go into my head and stay there by the time the lecture has finished.

An effective way to make sure you have understood the content from the lecture would be to read over and write your notes out again soon after the lecture. Copying out the notes again puts information into your head easier as you don’t have the distractions of the lecturer speaking and from your peers. For me, I find it helpful to rewrite my notes in coloured pens or make mind maps and flashcards. Seeing information in a different format sometimes helps.

Co-operative learning for me is working together and helping each other out. Sharing ideas and hearing other people’s ideas and opinions is a really helpful way to collect information and to expand on what you already know. As well as active learning, I think it is really important for us as future teachers to develop our understanding of co-operative learning so that we can then pass on our knowledge and encourage our pupils to learn in a similar way.

How gender stereotypes affected me at primary school

In the book ‘Learning to teach in the Primary School’ by Teresa Cremin and James Arthur, they describe the definition of ‘gender’ as being different to that of ‘sex’. Whereas the term ‘sex’ is used to signify the biological differences between male and female, ‘gender’ describes the patterns of behaviour and attitudes attributed to members of each sex that are an effect of experiences of education, culture and socialisation.

During my time at primary school, I wasn’t greatly effected by gender stereotypes, although I was aware of them and they were definitely there. At primary school age I wasn’t actually aware of what the term ‘stereotype’ really was or meant. I just understood and believed that girls and boys were treated differently.

One of the biggest stereotypes I remember was boys being asked to lift heavy objects into the classroom. The teacher would say something along the lines of “would any strong boy like to volunteer to lift these boxes?” or “I need three strong gentlemen to help me lift this table”, and from a young age it was ingrained into our heads that males were stronger, more dominant characters. The playground was another environment where gender stereotypes were apparent. Girls, for example, would never even think about playing football with the boys. Not because she didn’t enjoy it or wasn’t good at it, but because she had it in her head that football was a ‘boys sport’ and that she would be made fun of if she took part. Vice versa, boys would never play with dolls or take part in a game of ‘mums and dads’ because they would be afraid of being laughed at because those are, stereotypically, girls games.

So, even though gender stereotypes didn’t affect me in a great deal during primary school, they did exist and to some extent, even if I wasn’t aware of it, influenced me into knowing wat was ‘right or wrong’ for either girls or boys to take part in or not.

Why teaching?

All throughout my primary school years, I was influenced by many inspiring teachers. They encouraged me to enjoy learning and to be enthusiastic about it. My primary 4 and 5 teacher was especially inspiring as she encouraged me to want to learn and enjoy coming to school as she made lessons interesting and enjoyable and focused a lot on the expressive subjects as well as on maths, science and English. I became interested in music, art and languages because my teacher was so knowledgeable and enthusiastic in these areas, which again encouraged me to want to explore these areas further and learn more about them. Looking back on my teachers from primary school has encouraged me to want to become an influential and motivational teacher who has knowledge in all subject areas.

In primary 7, we used to go into classes of lower years and nurseries to help out during our break and lunch times. I realized that I really enjoyed working with young children and from observing how teachers taught and behaved inspired me to do something like that as well.

Later when I started secondary school I got involved in activities and modules with helping younger pupils. One module I joined was the working in the community module where I took part in planning and organising activities such as an Easter egg hunt for the local playgroup and again, having had more experience with younger children and helping out in the community inspired me to go into the teaching profession.

I also want to teach in the primary school rather than the secondary school because it would be very rewarding to teach and nurture a child throughout their younger years and to prepare them for the step up to secondary school.