Science Literacy

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 increases a child’s chance of developing autism. This research was released and caused fear to spread to all parents who became hesitant to allow their children to receive the vaccine. It wasn’t until 2004 that an investigation into mmrWakefield’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. 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:

  • “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”. By taking into account all these factors and questioning how they will effect the experiment a person is, therefore “science literate” as they are understanding the questioning and issues with the experiment.

 

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).

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].

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].

OECD, (2003). The PISA 2003 Assessment Framework – Mathematics, Reading, Science and Problem Solving Knowledge and Skills. Paris: OECD

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 at http://www.medicaldiscoverynews.com/shows/237_wakefieldAutism.html

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

Oh No! Not Maths!

Throughout my whole school career, I never had a strong relationship with mathematics. I went through school, moving up and down different maths sets and being taught by a number of different teachers who all caused me to have different attitudes towards the subject. Over the years, my dislike towards the subject steadily increased until it became my least favourite subject! As a result, I would be lying to say I wasn’t a little anxious about the introductory mathematics inputs that we had last week. However, I feel they helped change my attitude towards maths as well as building up my confidence in teaching it later on.

My experience with maths was what triggered my dislike towards the subject. One of the main influencing factors was my teacher, who took me for my standard grades and highers. Unfortuently, I did not find him particularly inspiring. In fact, he told me on a regular basis that I had little chance of succeeding in the subject. This combined with the fact I didn’t particularly enjoy maths meant that I found it difficult to motivate myself and I adopted the attitude of ” I can’t do it” which wasn’t necessarily true! It also didn’t help that my brother was the “maths genius” of the family. Compared to him, I felt inferior and didn’t see the point in even trying to compete with him as it was obvious who would get the better grades!

However, I plan to take my experience and use it to improve my own teaching! Firstly, I now understand how important it is to motivate your children and excite them about maths, even if you don’t feel that way about the subject. I remember in my maths lesson that I was always too nervous to put my hand up or ask for help as I was scared I would feel embarrassed about asking a “stupid question”. So I know how important it is as a teacher, to be friendly and approachable so that the children will not be scared to ask me for help. But most importantly, I know that I need to keep my attitude towards maths positive in order to teach it to my best capability and provide lessons that stimulate the children, hopefully encouraging them to enjoy maths as well.

 

Playing Around With Animation!

Tim The Turtle

During an ICT input, we explored the different features of the computer animation programme, Zu3D, and in small groups we created a short animation. We used play dough to create characters and a background setting, used appropriate music to help create the scene and added an introduction and a credits page.

Even as a group of adults, we still had a lot of fun creating this animation so I feel that children in a classroom would feel the same. As well as being fun for children, it would teach them many computer and camera skills such as filming and using a microphone to record sound. It also provides the children with the opportunity to work in groups, developing their teamwork skills. Not only would this activity develop their skills, but would allow the children to use their imagination and get creative while enjoying the class at the same time!

 

Reflecting on Reflection

Reflection is a process in which you look back at a certain event or piece of work and examine it in a critical way. By reflecting on such things you are able process your thoughts and feelings about the incident or piece of work and use these thoughts to learn how to do better in the future.

Reflecting on a past experience can be very beneficial as it allows you to look back at the event and identify the errors that occurred. You can reflect on how they affected you, how it changed you as a person and how it could have affected other people. But it also allows you to learn from the previous experience and use that knowledge in the future to avoid making the same mistakes. Reflection can also be used to evaluate a piece of writing. You are able to identify the weaknesses in your work and what you need to improve on. Using this knowledge you are able to improve your writing skills and avoid making the same mistakes in a future piece.

Reflection does not just need to be used to point out the negatives. It can also be used to highlight the positives in your work or event. It enables you to see your strengths and what parts of your work you did well. Just like the negatives, you can remember what you did well and use it again in the future.

Reflecting on feedback is also an important part of learning and has many benefits. It allows you to identify what you need to work on and how you can improve your work.  Having an outside opinion on your work enables you to see a different perspective that you may not have thought of before and gives you ideas of how you could integrate this new information into your future work. It is important to reflect on the positive feedback that you receive as well as it highlights what other people think you do successfully and give you a confidence boost.

In my opinion, reflecting is crucial to your learning. Not only does it allow you to see what you have done well in but what you can improve on and therefore you are constantly improving you skills.

 

What it Means to be an Enquiring Practitioner

Being an enquiring practitioner requires much more than being able to learn the skills and methods of enquiry. As a teacher, to be a enquiring practitioner you need to be able to develop your ideas and knowledge of teaching. Be able to question and challenge new ideas which will allow you to continuously develop and learn. An enquiring practitioner is one who can learn from critical research and is constantly adapting their teaching ways. This way they can put these new skills into practice in the classroom and again learn from experience what works well and not so well. It is also important for an enquiring practitioner to be flexible; they must be adaptive and open to change.

Being an enquiring practitioner has benefits and challenges. Firstly, it gives teachers a useful way to monitor their own practice. By constantly challenging themselves and asking critical questions such as: ” What is the purpose of this?”, ” What impact is it having?”, ” Is it beneficial to my teaching?” They can improve the quality of their teaching and this in turn will impact the children’s learning.  It also allows them to continuously develop new strategies and can enhance their self – esteem and professional identity as it enables them to make more professional judgements. Very importantly, it allows them to make crucial changes to the curriculum and provide the best learning environment for the children.

As said, there are still some disadvantages to this practice. A enquiry made at one school may not have the same beneficial effect in a different school. As a result this method is said to be “situationally unique”.  Also, enquiries that are made to just prove practices or find methods that “work best” that have not been explored sufficiently can be said to be superficial.

 

Milestones in Neuroscience Research

1909 – Harvey Cushing was the first to electronically stimulate the human sensory cortex.

1910 – Alzheimer’s disease was named by Emil Krapelin

1912 – William Stern developed the original formula for IQ ( Intelligence Quotient )

1920 – “Studies in Neurology” was published by Henry Head and “The Little Albert Experiments” were published by John. B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner.

1936 – Work on the first Human Frontal Lobotomy was published by Egas Moniz

1938 – Human patients were treated with electroshock by Ugo Cerletti and Lucino Bini. B.F Skinner also published “The Behaviour of Organisms“. This describes operant conditioning.

1956 – The brain was examined using ultrasound by L.Leksell

1960 – Oleh Hornykiewicz proved that brain dopamine was lower in patients that suffered from Parkinson’s disease

1969 – The Society of Neuroscience was founded

1987 – Depression was treated with Fluoxetine (Prozac)

1993 – The gene for Huntington’s disease was discovered

2000 – The Nobel prize for the discovery of signal transduction in the nervous system was shared between Arvid Carlsson, Paul Greengard and Eric Kandel

 

 

 

Five Virtues of Teaching

There are many traits that a teacher must have in order to be successful and professional. Below, I have chosen five that I feel to be important in becoming a successful teacher.

Patience

In my mind, patience is one of the most important skills in being a teacher. In a classroom, not all children learn at the same pace. You need to remain calm and patient with the class in order to provide the best possible learning environment. It is unprofessional and unfair to the children to get angry with them if they are not able to complete a task. You need patience to be able to help them with the task and be willing to help some children more than others get over their difficulties.

Empathy

Empathy is another key feature to making a good teacher. Being able to empathise with your children means you are able to build a trusting relationship with them and as a result it will create a more positive atmosphere in the classroom. By bringing yourself to their level, they will feel confident and comfortable in approaching you for any help that they need. Not being able to empathise with your children could harm your relationship with them which in turn could affect their learning.

Respect

Respect is another very important trait a teacher should have. To create a positive and comfortable learning environment, as a teacher you must gain respect from all of your children. But to keep this respect, it is important that you respect your class of children as well. However, respect should not just be created between teacher and child. It is important to keep a positive atmosphere throughout a school and to do this, teachers must respect each other as well as parents. This way a positive atmosphere can be kept in the school.

Fairness

It is very important to treat each child in your class fairly and equally. It is very unprofessional to show favouritism towards one or two children and let them get away with rules that the rest of the class must follow. You must also avoid stereotyping children that come into your class. It is important not to let matters such as race, gender and class cloud your judgement and treat them any differently to the rest of the children.

Kindness

Showing kindness towards your children can help build a trusting relationship between you and the child. It will make them feel more comfortable coming into school everyday knowing that you are going to be kind and willing to help them. If you shout or get angry with the children on a regular basis, not only will they not feel comfortable in your class, they may begin to fear you and this can have a huge affect on their learning. At the same time, it is important that you develop the right balance between kindness and professionalism. Being too kind could give the children the idea that they can get away with not working as hard as they should.