Science Literacy Group Task TDT

AC1 – According to the Programme for International Student Assessment, scientific literacy is defined as “the capacity to use scientific knowledge, to identify questions and to draw evidence-based conclusions” It then goes on to tell us that “Clearly this does not mean turning everyone into a scientific expert, but enabling them to fulfil an enlightened role in making choices” This definition helps us to understand that science is something which should involve research of a specific area of science, ask relevant questions and find a suitable outcome. It also explains that science is a subject which should be enjoyed by pupils and teachers. Without noticing, we use science every day of our lives and a lot of our decision making comes from science. From choosing what to eat to considering how our decisions will impact the surrounding environment. So, an understanding of scientific literacy is extremely important in having a sound understanding of all types of science in everyone’s daily lives.

AC2 – Analysis of an example where a lack of scientific literacy has led to inaccurate media. Not all science literacy can be helpful. The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination is a good example of this. This vaccine is normally given to a child from around 12 to 18 months. This vaccine has almost got rid of these diseases. However only 60% of children in some areas of the UK are getting this vaccine, this might lead to an epidemic outbreak. The reason for this is because of a paper published by Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield suggested that the combination MMR jab caused autism. He studied children who were suffering from a kind of bowel disease that he thought could be linked to autism. (BBC 2014) Since the paper came out it has since been viewed as “misleading, dishonest and irresponsible” (Bad science 2010, no page given). It was also found out that the children who were tested, that these on were not performed in their own clinical interest and without ethical approval. (Bad science 2010) Studies more recently have showed that there is no link between autism and the MMR. A new study examined blood samples of 100 autism children and 200 children without autism. The results showed that 99% of samples showed no trace of the measles virus. So therefore there is overwhelming research that there is no link between the MMR and autism.

AC3 – Within scientific experiments, a fair test is one which the variables are controlled and bias is avoided. The aim of this is to provide reliable results that allow the experimenter to observe and identify the impact of one factor.

While exploring the concept of fair testing in the classroom, children should be encouraged to think about all of the factors that could influence the results of the experiment and which of these can be controlled. In this way, children are learning to become critical and then appreciate that absolute reliability may not be possible (Linfield, 2009. P3)

It is vital that children are taught the principles of fair testing within schools, because this allows them to recognise the wide variety of factors which can influence the results of a test or experiment. This knowledge allows children to be objective and to feel more confident to challenge or question information, rather than accepting it on face value.

Some may say that not all aspects of primary science need to involve fair testing. For example one of the primary school science experiences and outcomes states:

I can identify and classify examples of living things, past and present, to help me appreciate their diversity. I can relate physical and behavioral characteristics to their survival or extinction. SCN 2-01a (Scottish Government, 2009)

Fair testing may not need to be used for this particular outcome, however it will contribute to the child’s level of scientific literacy. (Jane Turner et al, 2012). Overall this supports the idea that fair testing does contribute to becoming science literate although it is not always vital. It is possible to become science literate without always using fair testing.

 

References

Jane Turner et al (2012) it’s Not Fair. Available at: https://www.ase.org.uk/journals/primary-science/2012/01/…/30-33.pdf (Accessed: 09/02/15)

Linfield, R S, 2009. Planning to teach Science: in the Primary Classroom. London: Hopscotch

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.
Scottish Government (2009) Curriculum for Excellence: Science: Experiences and Outcomes. Available at: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/Images/sciences_experiences_outcomes_tcm4-539890.pdf (Accessed: 09/02/16)

Turbull, M. (2016) Creating Connections and Contagious Enthusiasm for Science. Available at: http://www.letstalkscience.ca/about-us/why-science.html (Accessed: 9th February 2016)

 

 

Let’s Make It Personal

Following the ePortfolio input where we had the opportunity to read some of our peers blog posts, I have realized that there are in fact a number of ways to display my professional thoughts within my own blog. I have also decided that I need to reflect more upon my own practice and take the initiative to create my own blog posts, not just sticking to tutor directed tasks.

Many of my peers have spoken about aspects of their personal life, I found this interesting as it made me feel like I was really beginning to understand the reasons behind their motivation to become a primary teacher. Some spoke of hobbies whilst others told stories about conversations with family members that really got them thinking. it was fascinating to see how much real life actually correlates to the theory that we have been looking at in lectures, workshops and tutorials.

Most of the best posts included some form of media, most commonly pictures or videos. I felt like this was successful as it allows any readers to gain a clearer understanding of what is being discussed in the post, as well as making it more interesting.

I think that others will benefit greatly from many of the posts that include personal experiences and media, due to the fact that for our tutor directed tasks we all write on many of the same topics and we are then directly able to compare our own posts with others and see how we could possibly improve and better our own work.

How I Aim to Learn More About Space

When asked to come up with an aspect of science that I would not be confident to teach, space immediately sprung to mind. A whole solar system out there that I know very little about. During my time at primary school, there were a number of occasions where we did make the effort to learn about aspects of space, however, not many of these activities actually stuck in my mind. My goal as a teacher will be to give interesting and important subjects justice by creating fun and engaging exercises for all of my pupils. This way, there is a much larger chance that the children will retain more information about their topic.

So back on to space, where to start? There is a vast amount of information out there on the subject so this task in terms of time scale, may take a while. I aim to be able to cover the basics of what is actually going on up there, and anything extra is an added bonus. If I were the class teacher and I had made the decision to teach my class about the solar system for a science topic I would start by taking them on a trip, mainly due to the fact that most of the memories I have of primary school include a break from routine, some sort of exhilarating outing.

My chosen excursion would be to Mills Observatory in Dundee, as this will give the children an opportunity to actually see some of the stars and planets that they have been learning about in class prior to this. Of course this outing will be weather permitting, a foggy night wouldn’t really be ideal. I have chosen this because it is easily achieved due to the fact that it is not far away and it is also extremely relevant to the topic of space, allowing the children to make the connection between class work and what they are seeing through their telescope. However, this trip isn’t just a plan for when I have my own class, it is something I could do myself before starting placement to brush up on my own knowledge of space, and I will also have an opportunity to ask some of the staff at the observatory any questions that I have regarding space.

As well as this trip I will use a combination of books, internet and television to build on what I already know. Following news updates regarding the astronauts who are currently in space may also be useful in my attempt to build up a clear knowledge base.

 

My Maths Journey

I could confidently say, throughout primary school I was one of the best in my class at maths, I was bursting with confidence in the subject and I found every aspect of it painfully easy. On my final day of primary school I even received a prize for maths, I was that good at it.

However, after my transition into high school it all went downhill. I began to find maths extremely difficult and I seriously lacked the confidence to progress in the subject. I was never bad at maths, I still remained in the top class for my year group but something had changed. I was now the worst at maths in my class and I felt too stupid to ever ask my teacher for help.

A well-known saying is: “a good workman never blames his tools” but I am going to contradict that by placing most of the blame on my high school maths teacher for my lack of confidence. He snapped at me whenever I asked him for help and he even told my mum at parents evening that there was no chance of me passing the subject. He was wrong, I sit here today with a C in higher maths, a very low C, but still a pass.

In my experience, those who were good at maths were regarded much smarter than someone who was good at history or art. I think this is a main reason as to why the subject intimidated me slightly when it came to secondary school. Another reason is that I strongly believed the myth that we were born with either a mathematical or a literacy brain, I was always good at history so I then decided that it just wasn’t in my genes to be talented at maths.

There is also another myth circulating that people wont need maths once they leave school. I feel very strongly against this as we use maths in many aspects of life. When I get on the bus every morning I have to deal with money which is pretty much basic maths that I learned in primary school. When I become a teacher maths will be a large part of my job so that directly proves that this myth is rubbish.

I aim to incorporate group work into my maths lessons because I feel that children will be more likely to ask for help when they are in a group rather than on their own. As well as this speaking out in class is much less daunting because it wont be as humiliating giving a wrong answer when it is a group effort.

In today’s maths input there was an extremely interesting saying:

I hear, I forget

I see, I remember

I do, I understand

This backs up the idea that group work among other things, may be beneficial. Children learn better by actually trying things out instead of just working from textbooks. If they can apply their maths to everyday life and make it interesting they are more likely to remember it in the years to come.

What Does it Mean to be an Enquiring Practitioner?

The general definition of enquiry would along the lines of asking something, so I would say an enquiring practitioner would be someone who is constantly questioning their practice. It can also be explained as some sort of investigation. This can be carried out alone or with colleagues and is extremely beneficial so teaching as it means constant improvement. By constantly questioning our own practice we will then be able to identify areas of improvement so that we can be the best teachers possible.

Practitioner enquiry has many benefits as well as development of own practice, it can empower teachers and give them control over what they teach and this can be very motivational. It also means that we can go further than just the classroom, practitioner enquiry could eventually change and improve the whole education system. This is due to the fact that it is highly adaptive and questioning is greatly encouraged by both pupils and teachers.

Personally I would say that working collegiately is a great was to improve the system of practitioner enquiry because teachers then have a chance to consolidate ideas and come up with the best solution which may lead to greater improvement.

Jack in the box

It can allow us to come up with different teaching strategies based on strengths and weaknesses in past lessons. It gives teachers a wider knowledge base due to questioning and being critical. This is beneficial because if teachers can improve their own knowledge base then that means that there is far more knowledge to then be passed on pupils/colleagues.

A main challenge of being an enquiring practitioner would be taking criticism from others without getting offended and having the ability to criticize friends without feeling emotionally attached.

What is Reflection?

I personally found this question extremely difficult to answer as there are so many different examples and definitions of reflection. This video helped me greatly in my attempt to understand what it actually is:

It starts  by saying it is the ability to consider solutions to problems. Although very broad, I somewhat agree with this statement. Reflection is using past experience and knowledge to actually solve a problem. For example, if I was to fail an assignment (hopefully that wont happen) I would look at what I actually did wrong and I would use this for my future assigments to avoid making the same mistakes again. This is reflection, in a way it is an ‘action plan’ to help improve our learning.

It could also be said that reflection links to being self-critical. If we reflect after each lesson we deliver we can identify which aspects we could improve on. It is important to accept that we will make mistakes so that we can enhance our teaching methods and reach our full potential.

 

The Construction of the Professional

There are a number of key qualities and attributes that play an important role in the construction of a professional and they are all beneficial in different ways when it comes to teaching. I have chosen to focus on five qualities that I think are key to possess when teaching children:

  • Patience
  • Tolerance
  • Kindness
  • Fairness
  • Empathy

Patience

For a teacher, patience means having the ability to stay calm if a child is really pushing it, it is the ability to never give up on a child no matter how tough they are being. it is an important skill to have because if a teacher wasn’t patient they probably wouldn’t really enjoy their job, it would be hard to see children improve if teachers did not possess the patience to work with them, to help them do the best they can do and to work hard with them so that they can get better at anything that they struggle with.

Tolerance

This, I feel comes hand in hand with patience. Similarly, for a teacher this means that they should be able to keep a cool head when it comes to bad behaviour and deal with it calmly. when working with kids it is important to be extremely tolerant as children will be noisy and they will muck around. it is important for a teacher to allow some fun and be tolerant to a certain extent when it comes to noise and mess.

Kindness

I believe that having the ability to be kind is extremely important when it comes to teaching. Children need to feel like they can approach their teacher and not be scared to ask questions. However, it is important to not be too kind and let the children take advantage, a teacher should be approachable but not so approachable that the children feel like they can walk all over them.

Fairness  

A teacher should always be fair, this means that they should always treat every child the same. It is important to reward children when they deserve it and similarly to make a child aware if they have done something wrong and take appropriate action. A teacher should always remain consistency and should not favour some children over others.

Empathy

This is an extremely important quality to have. A teacher should be able to understand how a child is feeling and consider how this may effect their behaviour or concentration in school. They must be able to understand why a child is acting in a certain way so that they can figure out how to improve behaviour or decide how to deal with a situation.