I’m Back…

If you haven’t already been able to tell, I have full out neglected this blog for the best part of a year.  After having some personal issues at the end of 1st year I struggled through the last months of university – this was the last thing on my mind. I never got back into the habit of updating it.

So here I am, at the beginning of my 3rd year and the start of my honours journey. I’m ready to tackle what this year throws at me (please be gentle!) and try not to neglect this blog so much!

Watch this space for more to come!


Scientific Literacy

Scientific Literacy TDT

Adele Herron, Chloe Connor, Erin Mcglynn and Megan Shearer

Although the term ‘scientific literacy’ may seem quite simple, it has become evident through research and discussion that it much more than just having knowledge of a lot of science. Scientific literacy is the capacity to use scientific knowledge to identify questions and to draw evidence based conclusions.

John Durant believes there are three separate definitions for scientific literacy, however they each have the similar opinion that all non-scientists surrounded by some form of science or technology, which we all are today, should know something about science. Each of the three definitions emphasise important aspects of science – the first includes your scientific knowledge; the second highlights the importance of the scientific method or procedures, whether it be mental or physical  procedures; and his final definition focusses on scientific culture. According to Miller (1996), we as people of a majority modern society live in this technological and scientific culture that was also mentioned by Durant and are therefore science significantly impacts us daily.

Hurd (1998) however bases his definition on seven different dimensions.

(1) Understand the nature of scientific knowledge;

(2) Apply appropriate science concepts, principles, laws, and theories in interacting

with his universe;

(3) Use the process of science in solving problems, making decisions, and furthering

his own understanding of the universe;

(4) Interact with values that underlie science;

(5) Understand and appreciate the joint enterprises of science and technology and the

interrelationship of these with each and with other aspects of society;

(6) Extend science education throughout his or her life;

(7) Develop numerous manipulative skills associated with science and technology.”

As demonstrated, there is no clear definition of the term scientific literacy, and has been and will continue to be interpreted in different ways.

However, what happens when there is a lack of scientific literacy? Take, for example, the controversy surrounding the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination in 1998. Dr Andrew Wakefield – a renowned gastroenterologist – released findings from his research that suggested a link between the MMR vaccine and autism and problems with the bowels (Smith, 2010). Despite the fact his research involved only 12 children, his findings made front page news. This resulted in a decline in the uptake of the vaccine – dropping to under 80% nationally and in some areas dropping to 60% uptake (BBC, no date; Smith, 2010). Due to this, cases of Measles increased – Britain having its first death from measles in 14 years – and Mumps grew to epidemic level in 2005 (Smith, 2010). In June 2006, it was announced that Wakefield was under investigation from the General Medical Council for alleged misconduct (Smith, 2010). The Sunday Times, in 2009, revealed that Wakefield had been paid by lawyers to create findings which would go against the 3 in 1 vaccination and had changed some of the results of his tests (Deer, 2009; Deer, 2011). Wakefield had used his knowledge and scientific literacy in an unethical way and had caused many children in our population to become seriously unwell, because of his incorrect findings. In 2015, it had been reported that there was no link between the vaccination and autism in children, after a study on 95,000 children which discredited Wakefield’s research (Boseley, 2015).


How is teaching fair testing in school science linked to scientific literacy?

When carrying out an experiment in a science lesson it is important that it is a fair test.  This has to be done to ensure that the experiment is reliable and therefore, has the ability to have conclusions drawn from it.  In order to conduct a fair test it is important that only one factor (variable) is changed and that all other factors and conditions are kept the same and as identical as possible.  An example of a test could be measuring the speed of toy cars when moving down a hill.  In order for this to be considered a fair test all variables including the gradient of the hill, the time they cars are let go and the way in which they are let go should all remain the same, the only factor which should change should be the car itself.  This ensures that your test is fair and reliable.

The topic of fair testing when teaching science is very important as, children must ensure that each experiment they carry out is fair.  Fair testing is a basic area of knowledge within science that children must know about in order to continue and progress onto more challenging things within the curricular subject.

Scientific literacy is all about using scientific knowledge to draw evidence-based conclusions.  Therefore, fair testing is very much a part of this process as it is a necessary procedure used when gathering information and evidence from experiments.  Also the ability to carry out a fair test is very much a scientific skill in its self which is fundamental, in order to progress in the subject of science.




BBC. (No date) Does the MMR Jab Cause Autism? Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/mmr_prog_summary.shtml (Accessed: 10 February 2016)

Boseley, S. (2015) No link between MMR and autism, major study concludes. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/21/no-link-between-mmr-and-autism-major-study-concludes (Accessed: 10 February 2016)

Deer, B. (2009) MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism. Available at: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/public/news/article148992.ece (Accessed: 10 February 2016)

Deer, B. (2011) The medical establishment shielded Andrew Wakefield from fraud claims. Available at:  https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2011/jan/12/andrew-wakefield-fraud-mmr-autism (Accessed: 10 February 2016)


Durant, J (1994). What is scientificc literacy?. European Review, 2, pp 83-89 doi:10.1017/S1062798700000922

IJESE, 2009 Scientific Literacy and Thailand Science Education http://www.acarindex.com/dosyalar/makale/acarindex-1423903863.pdf (Accessed 13th February 2016)


Smith, R. (2010) Andrew Wakefield – the man behind the MMR controversy. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/7091767/Andrew-Wakefield-the-man-behind-the-MMR-controversy.html (Accessed: 10 February 2016)

I’m sorry, I’ll try harder…



I’ve not been a good student!

Okay, that is maybe an over exaggeration but in terms of this blog, my engagement has declined severely as semester one was drawing to a close. Having looked back through some of my posts I have realised that most of my posts are influenced by lecturers who are telling me to “write this on you e-Portfolio.” If I’m honest, I only engage with it when I’m told to – I never decide to write a post off my own back. Having looked through some of my fellow students blogs, I am seriously embarrassed to admit that.

The standards of these blogs are incredible and to be honest I am jealous that I have not produced such work! The fact that the majority of the posts that I read are not directly linked to university work – they do not seem to be directed by lecturers but something that they have decided to do themselves, possibly provoked my university work. They make it look so easy and they are so enthusiastic about the topic, their own experiences linked to the topic and their reflection. It has made me question, why can’t I do that?

I have also noticed that most of my blog posts are of the same style – full of text with very few pictures or videos. As a trainee teacher, I understand that children won’t pay attention when they are faced with screeds of text; by adding in pictures it breaks up the text and should hopefully keep them engaged. Adele, practice what you preach!

Reading through others blog posts as well, I’ve come to realise I’m not the only one in certain situations. Reading about how one has struggled with maths and is quite apprehensive about teaching it, I can completely relate. It has made me realise that I’m not the only one who struggles with maths and is anxious about teaching it. I have also read about classroom organisation and it has made me want to look into this area further so that when I am a teacher I can organise my classroom in a way that the children will fully benefit from. I have also loved reading about areas people have a passion for, like dance. I too have a love and a passion for dance and to see how enthusiastic someone is to teach it in and to have their enthusiasm rub off on others is great to see.

So, what have I taken from this? What am I going to do to improve my blog? Firstly, I’m going to include more media in my posts. I feel that it makes the posts more inviting, engaging and intriguing. I am also setting myself the challenge of uploading one blog post every week that has not been directed from lecturers – this will be in addition to any posts directed from lecturers. I feel that one post a week to begin with will encourage me to engage and this will hopefully increase as time goes on. I hope to post on a variety of subjects in relation to teaching and not just academic things.

Wish me luck!


Here are the links to some of the blogs I mentioned in this post:

Lauren Duncan – 5,6,7… DANCE!

Michelle Mackie – Problematic Problems

Claire-Emma Beattie – The ability grouping debate continues

Staying Safe Online

We recently had an input about the ICT time children get in primary school and how we can develop their ICT skills. The importance of internet safety was highlighted in this input and how we should always make sure the children have had an internet safety input before they are “let loose”. With that in mind, I created this short presentation:

I feel that the bright colours would attract and hold the children’s interest (hopefully!!) throughout the video – hoping that they are taking in the tips given.

I used Animoto to create this presentation. I think that Animoto and other presentation making applications are good for developing ICT skills. Children will create a presentation on a topic (Whether this be given to them or an individual choice) which means that they will have to research the topic – thus developing their internet search skills. The will be able to develop the skills of using a presentation making software and will know how to insert pictures, music and text into the presentation. They will also be able to develop their visual and oral communication skills and listening skills.

Getting in touch with my creative side

One of the modules I have to complete this semester is called “Teaching Across the Curriculum.” In this, we look at the different aspects of the curriculum in Scotland and talk about what we could teach within it and how we could teach it. As part of the module we were given a workshop on animation. In all honesty, I don’t see myself as a very arty person and can sometimes struggle when being creative. However, I grasped the opportunity with both hands and ended up having fun. Here is the video, Emma (a fellow teaching student) and I created.

I think this type of animation will help children to develop many skills. They will be able to develop their skills when using a camera and – in this case – a microphone. They will also be able to develop the skills of the software used to create the animation. Along with ICT skills, I believe that group animations will allow children to develop their team working skills, their communication skills, patience and the ability to recognise that no one should be left out – everyone’s input is of equal value.

I feel that animation fits into two experiences and outcomes for Technology in Curriculum for Excellence. These are:

“I enjoy taking photographs or recording sound and images to represent my experiences and the world around me.”  TCH 0-04b


“I can create, capture and manipulate sounds, text and images to communicate experiences, ideas and information in creative and engaging ways.” TCH 1-04b / TCH 2-04b


That was excellent, but this could be worked on…

Peer review is something I never felt very confident in. I often felt like I wasn’t of the authority to suggest ways of improvement on other’s work, or I didn’t want to offend someone. Giving positive feedback was easy, especially when it is in comparison to another piece of work and you can see improvements. When I had been given feedback from peers (having only ever really experienced it from school) I often felt their feedback wasn’t going to help me improve or keep up my strengths. Before I commented on some of my peer’s posts, I was apprehensive. I still kept the reservations of peer review I had from my time at school. So I gave it a go and here are my thoughts.

Firstly, receiving feedback. In all honesty, the feedback given to may made me feel uplifted and filled me with some confidence. It was nice to see that I had inspired others to think of the topic in a different way or add to their understanding. I feel receiving feedback on this occasion was a positive experience. It helped me to realise that I had an understanding what I had read and, it was illustrated in my writing – I hadn’t just written a load of nonsense as I originally thought. Even the suggestions for improvements didn’t make me less confident. After rereading what I had written with consideration of suggestions, I was able to identify what I could change for future posts. The suggestions were relevant to the piece of work and I wasn’t left wondering what they meant – they had made their suggestions clear. The feedback given didn’t put me down and I’m glad my peers suggested improvements as this will help me in all my future writing. The strengths they provided for me were well detailed and this has allowed me to realise that some skills I didn’t think were that well developed, actually are.

Furthermore, giving feedback. As I stated before I have never felt of the authority to suggest improvements for someone who is at the same level or levels above me. This was my worry when I started giving feedback. I carefully read the posts and found areas of strength within them. I explained their strengths and gave some examples of parts that stood out to me. When it came to suggesting improvements it became harder. Everyone’s post that I reviewed had covered the criteria set out. So I had to reread a few times before I found some things that would help improve the post. I tried so carefully not to sound patronising with my suggestions as I really didn’t want to offend anyone – looking back now I tried a little too hard with the wording and I probably didn’t sound patronising in the first place. The more people’s posts I read and the more comments I left, I felt more confident in giving feedback. I think giving feedback turned into a positive experience and it allowed me to analyse work rather than just read it. I also liked how I was able to see what other people’s understanding of the topic was and could compare to my own understanding.

For the future, giving and receiving feedback has helped me to identify that no piece of work is perfect and improvements can be continued to be made. I also feel for me that it has highlighted the importance of having someone else look over your work as a fresh pair of eyes may be able to find errors or help to make things sound better. I also feel that it has shown me that receiving feedback will help fix things in order to improve your next piece of work. I think that feedback from peers is as beneficial as feedback from teachers, tutors, lecturers, etc. because they are both equally helpful – as long as they are truthful and relevant.

I think when I am teaching I will use peer review. I think it provides an opportunity to read other’s work and can show people a different way of doing things. I think it is important to undertake peer review in a classroom as some pupils may be able to relate more to the feedback given by their peers. As a teacher, this has helped shown me how important it is to give detailed feedback, rather just writing “Good work!” and drawing a smiley face. Providing detailed feedback will help with the pupil’s development and will be able to help them improve their work and learning. One thing that I will remember is to keep the feedback relevant to the task I have given the pupils. I want them to feel confident and uplifted; I don’t want them to feel like they are being put down.

Overall, my opinion of peer review has changed and I no longer feel apprehensive about giving it. I think that as a teacher feedback is extremely important so that the pupils know where to improve for next time and to know that feedback doesn’t have to be a negative thing.


The Enquiring Practitioner

As stated by the GTCS: “Practitioner enquiry, as defined by Menter et al (2011), is a ‘finding out’ or an investigation with a rationale and approach that can be explained or defended. The findings can then be shared so it becomes more than reflection or personal enquiry.”

I believe that an enquiring practitioner is someone who is willing to reflect upon their work and the work of others in order to develop their skills and to benefit others. An enquiring practitioner is about being open minded to try new things; being adaptive – understanding that some things might not work and being able to change that from your own knowledge or from the knowledge of someone else and, having the ability to be critical of themselves and their own work as well as the work of others (GTCS). It should also be about life-long learning and the willingness to develop your teaching skills as time goes on. I also believe that an enquiring practitioner is someone who has a desire to increase their knowledge and skills, for example, a lesson may not have gone as planned in the sense that a large proportion of the class has not been able to grasp the topic. An enquiring practitioner may discuss this lesson with other teachers and talk about possible reasons why it didn’t go as planned; the other teachers may be able to help said teacher through their own experiences of a lesson of the same topic and what worked well for them. It’s about not being afraid to admit to things that have not worked so well and welcoming new ways of thinking.


Some benefits of being an enquiring practitioner have been noted on the GTCS website.  These include:

  • Enable those within the teaching profession to work together to enhance the education system.
  • Enable teachers to bring about important alterations in teaching and education and thus greatly increasing the quality of pupils’ learning experiences in a learning environment.
  • Influence the progression of schools, colleges, universities and agencies as educational establishments for the educators who work there and for the pupils.

Some other benefits may include:

  • Increases learning as more learning happens when working in a team.
  • Further development of team working skills.
  • Allows questioning which gives access to deeper understanding.
  • Improves pupil attainment and achievement.

There can also be negatives to this (some of these are noted on GTCS website):

  • Dishonesty – some people may lie about what has worked.
  • No open mindedness in the sense that some teachers might not want to change their practices.
  • Seeing it as a chore and not something that is worthwhile.
  • Not accessing the questioning of its importance to give a deeper understanding.
  • Some people might be offended by suggestions of how they can do something differently or improve something and feel as if others are putting them down.
  • Not being critical of self.

For me as a student teacher, I believe that this means I should be open to trying new things and open to advice, even right now in my first year of university. I also believe that this means having the ability to recognise that not everything you try will work and to persevere as you will get there in the end. I think it is about working on the advice given to me which will improve my knowledge and skills. It also means recognising that learning never stops and we can all work together in order to improve ourselves. I think this will be especially important when on placement as the teacher is already qualified and they can help and advise you from their own experiences at university and during their teaching career.



From http://www.gtcs.org.uk/professional-update/practitioner-enquiry/practitioner-enquiry.aspx


Here is the link to the practitioner enquiry information on the GTCS website:

GTCS – Practitioner Enquiry