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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds NADIA CALLOW-HUSSAIN: I look for inspirational context all over the place. So online, reading articles in journals, looking at what’s going on in the news, and picking up on news stories. Big news agencies have science sections, so they’re worth a read. Following things on Twitter. So the scientific journals that you can follow there, for example, new scientists will always have articles in that are useful to follow-up. And Biological Sciences Review is a good one, as well. It’s as I’m living my daily life that, if there’s an interesting story, I will pick up on it, print it out, and if I can incorporate into my lesson, then I will do.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds JENNY MCLARDY: I feel that most lessons at the moment, for GCSE particularly, I can bring something from the news. The more I’ve tried to incorporate things that are relevant to them, and things that are happening worldwide at the moment, I do think I’ve seen much more of a enthusiasm, really. And also, a change in the way that a lot of them are living their lives, they’ll come back and tell me, actually, I went litter picking last week, the weekend, because of what we’ve been learning in science.

Skip to 1 minute and 10 seconds TONY HOUGHTON: For inspirational context, I look at colleagues. So we’re very big here on collaborative learning, collaborative planning. So definitely the first place I go to is my colleagues. We’re very lucky to have specialist teachers. So we have physics, chemistry, and biology specialists. So just to be able to bounce off ideas and share those, that’s a really good place to start. Also, a wealth of information now on things like the STEM Centre. So you can do the lessons on there. BBC bitesize has been fantastic for video clips and things like that. But definitely, I think the most is colleagues. There’s so many ideas out there.

Skip to 1 minute and 47 seconds And just to be able to magpie and take those, is a fantastic place to start.

Skip to 1 minute and 52 seconds TIM CORY: For a lot of students, the science can be quite a turnoff for them. So the context and the inspiration will come from whatever they are interested in. With students who are less grounded and less sure about specifically what they want to do, thinking of students in schools who might not be turned on by science, you’ve got to address the basic question that comes up with them. Which might be, why do I need to know this?

Skip to 2 minutes and 21 seconds TONY HOUGHTON: I feel you don’t want it to become just about knowledge gathering. And you really, kind of– why is this useful to me? Or why is this useful to the things that I do? And I think if they can understand that, then they’re much more engaged, and they’re much more focused on learning, and they can see what benefit it is to them. Trying not to shoehorn things into lessons, waiting for the opportunity. So for example, if you’re studying ecology, you might look at biodiversity. At the moment, David Attenborough documentary, plastics in the oceans, things like that, opportunities to link that in there, and so it’s not shoehorned in, it flows naturally into the lessons.

Skip to 3 minutes and 2 seconds NADIA CALLOW-HUSSAIN: It’s important to give real life examples so that the students can actually relate to it. I know if I tell a story about my heart operation, and show my ECG around that time, they’re listening to me and they will engage with it far more than if it’s a real abstract example. So you really want to bring something in that they can see, that they can relate to, that they can, sort of, relate back to, something they might have come across before. Otherwise, it is very difficult to relate an abstract idea to a concept they need to then translate into an exam answer in a formal examination. You get the bit of awe and wonder.

Skip to 3 minutes and 41 seconds You get the, sort of, oh, wow, that happened. I didn’t realise that would do that. I mean, you can even get it with the Venus fly trap. When they see the fly trap close, there’s suddenly a little bit of interest as to why is that happening, and what’s going on there.

Teachers' perspectives: finding inspiration

In this video we hear from science teachers about the way they find contexts for their teaching, and why this is important for student learning.


Make a note of the ways you and your colleagues find inspirational context for teaching. Do you have a shared space where you collect your ideas?

Speak to a colleague and find out where they look for ideas.

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Teaching Biology: Inspiring Students with Plant Science

National STEM Learning Centre

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