“He who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” ~ Richard Henry Dann
What is science all about? That’s a big question! Science is all around us and allows us to gain a better understanding of our world. This understanding involves questioning our assumptions and ‘everyday’ explanations, while modifying our ideas based on scientific investigation.
And that brings me to the topic of today’s post – investigation! During our input, we were encouraged to carry out our own mini investigation, using structured support materials (investigation frames) to aid us in our thinking and recording.
The frames asked questions to ensure that we considers our variables and control methods. I felt that they also encouraged us to work as a group – talking about what should be added to each sheet.
My group agreed that the frames were helpful as they organized our thoughts in the basic form of a ‘proper’ scientific report. Report writing can be a tricky skill, but it is one which students will need as they progress through their education.
I can see how the scientific investigation frames could be used in my own classroom, using scaffolding to support the children. First, to introduce the process of recording and reporting to my pupils, I would model the process with the whole class, allowing them to suggest the ideas for the sheets, conduct their experiments in groups, and then share the results together. I hope that this would build the children’s confidence and allow them to begin to grasp the key elements of a scientific investigation.
I would then use the frames in an ‘I do- you do’ fashion where I continue to model the process (perhaps with a generic example) but complete the sheets one by one, following each with a chance for the children to discuss and complete their own sheets.
Finally I would provide opportunities for the children to use the investigation frames with limited instruction from myself.
When thinking about my own teaching of science, I found it interesting to learn about the Constructivist approach. This approach involves identifying currently held ideas, discovering any misconceptions, challenging these, and finally reformulating our thinking. Now, I understand that on the face of it, this seems a little dry, but stay with me because it also has the possibility to be linked with stimulating and engaging lessons! As with so much learning, the interest comes as a teacher uses an idea or misconception which is relevant to the children (for example questioning something that happens in a movie, or using a practical experiment/ demonstration, or going on an outing…)
Science is a critical part of the primary classroom and curriculum for excellence. Despite this, PISA scores find the UK well below those top performing countries (OECD, 2015). It is therefore essential that future (and current) teachers aim to improve the delivery of science lessons to pupils – providing them with the skills and knowledge in a meaningful way.