Category Archives: 2 Prof. Knowledge & Understanding

Scientific Literacy- Group TDT

The term ‘Scientific Literacy’ is one that can often be heard in academic conversation but what does it actually mean? To be literate is having the “ability to read and write” (Oxford Dictionary, no date), therefore it would be assumed that being ‘scientifically literate’ is about having the knowledge to be able to understand different scientific concepts. However, scientific literacy is not just about knowing how to carry out a range of different experiments. It refers to having a knowledge of scientific concepts and being able to apply what we know to decisions that we make throughout our daily lives, regarding “personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs and economic productivity” (Literacy.net, no date). This entails that being scientifically literate gives you the proficiency to be able to “ask (about), find and determine” (NSES, no date) scientific experiments, and establish whether information that has been shared is of a reliable background. From this we can use individual methods to judge and evaluate the experiments, resulting in conclusions which have come from personal knowledge and research.

The best and most well-known example of scientific literacy, or a lack of scientific literacy- leading to inaccurate reporting- is the MMR vaccine scare. This started when a paper was published in 1998 and reported that twelve children had been found to have bowel syndrome and signs of autism after receiving the vaccine. However, the report provided no hard evidence to support the argument that there was any link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The main author of the report, Dr Andrew Wakefield, initially stated at a press conference that parents should avoid the MMR vaccine. It was later found that the author of the report did not have the medical qualifications to assess the risk of the MMR vaccine, and he was found guilty of four counts of dishonesty. These events had a major effect on public confidence in the MMR vaccine. Vaccination rates continued to fall, even after there were many reports showing that there was no link between the vaccine and autism. When it was found that Wakefield had actually been funded by a lawyer firm that wanted litigation against MMR, confidence eventually returned but a combination of poor scientific practice and lack of scientific literacy led to inaccurate reporting in the media for several years.

In terms of scientific literacy in the classroom, the process of fair testing is an important part to any science-based activity that you may be conducting with your pupils. Therefore, it is vital that you teach them just how important this element is. Fair testing means that only one factor is changed at any one time ensuring that all the other conditions are left the same throughout. In scientific terms, changing a factor is known as changing a variable. It is essential that children understand the effects that changing one or more variables has in order to fully understand the experiments you teach them. But how does teaching fair testing link to scientific literacy? By making your children aware of fair testing, you are stating that an experiment will have no deliberate advantages or disadvantages as they follow a procedure that will provide a legitimate outcome. Through this, students will then be able to “identify questions and draw evidence-based conclusions”. Fair testing ensures that there is less of a bias within the experiment. Scientific literacy is linked to fair testing through the fact that it is “evidence-based” and not simply an answer that people are to believe. Fair testing helps to reduce this idea of “bad science” in schools. It will help your pupils to progress within their scientific literacy and encourage them to become more questioning, providing results that have evidence to back up the findings.

 

References

Literacy.net (no date): Scientific Literacy: [online] Available from: <http://www.literacynet.org/science/scientificliteracy.html> [10/02/16]

National Science Education Standards (no date): Chapter 2 – Principles and Definitions: [online] Available from: <http://www.nap.edu/read/4962/chapter/4> [10/02/16]

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.

Oxford Dictionary (no date): Literate: [online] Available from: <http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/literate> [10/02/16]

Radio 4, Science Betrayed, Thursday 24 March 2011 at 20:59 (available online at http://bobnational.net/record/55921)

 

John Muir, Shaun Finnigan, Danielle Mackay, Rachel Billes

The sky is the limit!

After spending some time reading other people’s ePortfolio blog posts this morning, I have come away quite enlightened. Throughout the time I have spent writing my blog posts, reflecting on my personal development and discovering new aspects of the curriculum, I have adapted and improved my blogs as I have been inspired by the other posts I have read.

imagesOne of my more recent discoveries was how to align pictures alongside text as I think that it makes the blog  nicer to look at and easier to read. This is something that I have seen done by
many others and wanted to incorporate it into my own posts.

Something else that I would like to start integrating into my posts is direct links to professional practice and more references to academic text. This will take more time and commitment on my part but ultimately I will need to take this step forward in order to further my professional development.

One of the most exciting posts that I read today was about classroom management. This post used the computer game ‘Sims 4’ to design the layout of  a classroom. (See below)

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/cebeportfolio/2016/01/06/180/27c268b

As I was reading this post I felt lots of little light bulbs going off in my head. What a great
example of thinking outside the box! It reminded me that with education the sky really is the limit. If more of us were to take that step outside of the box then just imagine how the future of education could be transformed. This has inspired not only the way I write my blog posts but the way I look at how I will be an engaging and fun teacher, whilst focusing on the 8 key areas of the curriculum. As is highlighted in the Disney film ‘Big Hero Six’, you sometimes need to look for a new angle.

 

 

Exciting Animations!

In our first technology workshop we looked at how to make different types of animation and good ways of using and teaching these techniques in the classroom.

The first activity was making a flip book animation with a folded over piece of paper. The instruction was to start by drawing something on the inside of the paper. When the paper is folded over you should be able to see the image shining through, providing an ‘onion skin’ so that the next drawing can be drawn with only a slight alteration. This then allows the image to move when the paper is opened and shut at regular intervals. When doing this task with a class it is important to be prepared with folded pieces of paper for the pupils in the class, as they may not fold them exactly in half and the activity may not work as well. A clear demonstration will also be necessary to ensure that the pupils fully understand the task.

We then tried making another type of flip animation using the corner of our notepads; however post-it notes would be the best resource to use for this activity. The video below describes how this type of animation works.

Our third animation activity involved recreating a scene from the film ‘Frozen’ using the programme ‘Pivot Animator’. Like the previous activity this programme is designed so that you can make a scene using stick men and then make subtle changes to the picture using the ‘onion skin’ as a guide. This sequence of pictures makes the animation come to life. In the classroom you may choose to pick a story line or ask the children to recreate a specific scene from a film, as we did with the film ‘Frozen’. We learnt how to add different characters, how to change the colour of the characters and how to make our own characters. It may take a whole lesson to explain one of these skills to your class depending on their stage. It is also important to avoid teaching more than 3 new ICT skills in one lesson as it can be overwhelming for some pupils.

The above video is an example of an animation created using ‘Pivot Animator’. This is one of the very few videos on youtube, made using this programme, that does not involve any violence or inappropriate images. This is why it is important to be clear with your pupils that although others are using the programme in this way, it is a great classroom tool and similar inappropriate use will not be tolerated in the classroom setting.

For our third and final activity we worked in pairs and were shown how to use plasticine models to create an animation using the programme ‘Zu3D’. We learnt how to use cameras which plugged into the computer and that it was important to take five shots for each frame as it took an average of 25 scenes before the video was only a second long. We were also shown how to add in text at the start and end of the video and sound, if we wanted to include these aspects in our animations. Finally, we were shown how to save our animation in video format. A copy of our animation is available to download and view below.

 

Using animation in the classroom is not only a great way of teaching ICT skills but an opportunity to draw on other areas of the curriculum such as literacy, music and art. For example, the animation could be used as a stimulus for a story writing exercise. The children could also consider the use and impacts of the music used for animations and could even choose a piece of music as a stimulus for their animation. The plasticine models allow a link with art and the making of the actual animations requires team work and co-operation. It allows the pupils to be creative and to explore new ways of creating and developing ideas through the use of technology.

The Mystery that is Mathematics

What is the first thing that you think of when someone says maths? Do you feel full of confidence and excitement or rather dread and fear?

During our first maths input this afternoon, I realised just how many people experience the latter mentioned feelings of fear and anxiety. There were even people who talked about feeling physically sick just at the thought of it. Why is this? As teachers it will be important to think about why maths is such a huge cause for concern, for so many, and what methods can be used to change peoples’ attitudes toMaths Jokes.009wards such an important part of the curriculum.

A main point that came out of the discussions during the workshop was that if people did not feel like they were good at maths they kept that mentality throughout their time at school, and still find it difficult to see the opportunities to become more confident in this subject. When we are challenged by something, especially as children, a natural reaction is often to switch off, shut things out or give up. I think this has something to do with feeling vulnerable and embarrassed, especially when we start comparing ourselves with others who seem to know it all.

I would like to spend some time sharing and reflecting on my own experience of maths in primary and secondary school. From when I first started school in primary 1 right up to primary 7, I found myself in all of the ‘top groups’ including maths. I always felt happy and confident during maths lessons and very able to explain to others how to get to an answer without much worry or concern. Of course there were areas which I found difficult but they didn’t make me scared or less confident in my abilities.

7caoz5RziMy high confidence in maths continued into the first couple of years of high school but I no longer enjoyed the lessons as much, as most of the work we did came straight from the textbook. I can’t quite pin-point the moment that I started to feel less confident in my abilities in maths but I know that it started to creep in during my exam years.

Our standard grade teacher encouraged us all to sit higher maths as she believed that we were all capable of continuing at that level. It was this confidence in our class that made me choose maths as a subject in fifth year. This was probably the year that knocked my confidence the most because I had always felt good at maths until this point. My parents arranged for me to be tutored in maths as I was able to do the work but perhaps required more time to go over areas of difficulty. That being said, I have forgotten a lot of what I learnt that year and have found myself telling others that maths is something I am not very good at, despite the fact that I managed to get a B in my Higher exam.

Looking back on my own experiences it is clear to me that a lot of our self esteem and self concept, especially in more difficult areas such as maths, comes from the teacher and their teaching style. My favourite maths lessons were the ones where we were able to do group tasks or challenges in order to find the solution to a problem.

Learning from peers can be very beneficial as one of your class mates may explain something to you, in a way that is easier for you to understand than what the teacher originally demonstrated. Explaining something to others, that you understand well, is also a great way of consolidating what you already know. During one higher maths lesson the teacher came over and heard me explaining how I worked through one of the questions to a class mate who was feeling confused. He told me that I should be a maths teacher to which I responded, “No way! I can only explain it well because I understand this bit.”

My main reflections on this topic are that you don’t have to have the highest qualification in maths to teach it well. As long as you find a way of understanding the maths that you need to teach your pupils and can help them to understand your methods in an enthusiastic, fun and interactive way then there is no need to feel anxious or scared.

hilbert-math-quote

TDT- What challenges/opportunities you may be faced with when marrying the personal vs the professional presence on social media?

As the majority of people use one or more social media sites in day to day life, particularly the likes of ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’, it is highly likely that this is something which will involve them interlinking their personal and professional lives.

One of the main challenges that you may be presented with, if you choose to marry these two aspects, is that the internet can be a very unforgiving place and once something is out there you can’t get rid of it- even once it has been deleted. For this reason it is important to think very carefully before posting anything online, particularly if it is something that will compromise you or your profession.

As primary teachers it is especially important that we are aware of the consequences of inappropriate uses of technology and social media sites. This code of conduct is clearly stated on the GTCS website (GTC Scotland, 2012). It is made clear that the use of social media can blur the boundaries between professionalism and personal life. In the classroom this can mean having a lesser means of authority and can be a gateway into your personal life, automatically putting you in a more vulnerable position.

However, when used in a professional way, social media can provide many positive opportunities for furthering learning. There is a much larger scope to contact others from around the world and to share your different experiences with one another. If you are posting links to areas of interest within your work field, then others will be able to comment their viewpoints and perhaps give you advice on where to look next. This can lead to national and international links being formed and great opportunities for inter-cultural work.

I think it is important to see the positive side of social media, whilst using it sensibly and teaching children to do the same. It is a great resource that we have, which others didn’t have in the past, and so we should use it to our advantage and not fear the ‘what if’, by making sure there are clear boundaries put in place.