Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsTanya Shields: Hello. Welcome to the question and answer session for teaching primary science, getting started. I'm Tanya Shields, and we have.
Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsSarah Dagnell: Sarah Dagnell.
Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsKaren Brunyee: And Karen Brunyee.
Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsTanya Shields: And you'll have seen our messages over the past three weeks on the online course. Thank you ever so much for the questions that you've posted over the past few weeks. We have collected them and we have them in front of us. There were at least 40 questions, I believe, and what we've tried to do is so that we can answer as many of them as possible to help you in your working schools, we've tried to collate them.
Skip to 0 minutes and 31 secondsSo apologies if we don't get the question exactly as you worded it, but what we wanted to try and do is make sure we get as many ideas across to you, and help you with your school, and improve science in your classrooms. So we're gonna start with the first one which is associated with planning, and it comes from Natalie, and Sarah's gonna kick us off, with this one.
Skip to 0 minutes and 51 secondsSarah Dagnell: Natalie had wanted to find out about misconceptions, particularly when she's starting a topic with children. And saying that it's hard to know how much you should be teaching prior knowledge that children should know, if they didn't quite get it. My opinion of this one, is the beginning of every topic, we should be trying to do some pre-assessment, to make sure that they're understanding is there, from what they've done before. And a pre-assessment should be quick, it should be easy, it should be pretty practical so you can actually pick it up. But then, the information from that will inform our planning for the rest of the topic.
Skip to 1 minute and 25 secondsSo it could be something as simple as giving the children a cardboard magnet. Asking them to put the magnet on something that is magnetic. And the fact that you've given them a cardboard one, means that they can't test it. And so, very quickly, you'd be able to see which children actually understand what's magnetic, and what's not. And then from that, you'd be able to guide your planning towards what the children seem to know and what they don't seem to know.
Skip to 1 minute and 53 secondsTanya Shields: Thank you, Sarah. Natalie raised the point that, when you're trying to teach program of study, and link it together. If you find out that children have misconceptions at the start of those activities, how do you fit in the time? How do you find the time to actually teach what you're supposed to teach for that year group, as well as addressing misconceptions? Unfortunate, we don't have an answer for that one. You can't teach the next stage of learning without insuring that the children have that foundational knowledge in place. I don't know if you agree.
Skip to 2 minutes and 25 secondsSarah Dagnell: I think that a lot of the time, each of the objectives bills are the prior ones, though. So at the beginning of a certain lesson or a certain objective, you may be able to cover a little bit of ground, before getting into the new objectives.
Skip to 2 minutes and 34 secondsTanya Shields: But what's nice for us is to see that how clearly you are thinking about your practice in schools and how that develops. But absolutely, start with where the children are at, and where they need to go next, and try not to get too hung up on cramming everything in there. Focus on good solid knowledge, that's going to move the children forward.
Skip to 2 minutes and 53 secondsSarah Dagnell: Yup.
Skip to 2 minutes and 53 secondsKaren Brunyee: I'd say most objectives, you have a long time to get them over. And you could probably cover most within a very short period of time. So if you find that children are missing a certain bit, you've got the time to go back and look at it, hopefully.
Skip to 3 minutes and 14 secondsTanya Shields: Okay, so question two is ideas for teaching subject knowledge. Now, this one we really have condensed, because we've got a question from Miriam, Phil, Catherine, and Fran. So we're going to take it in turns to do just a little examples of how we can develop this subject knowledge in here. And it's starting with Sarah again, so.
Skip to 3 minutes and 29 secondsSarah Dagnell: With me again, brilliant. The first one came from Miriam which was asking about life cycles. She wants to know how you could teach that practically in a classroom. Now I've seen this done in loads of different ways. But a lot of times it's really bringing things into the classroom. For example, in the school that I work at, we'd often have the chicks that you can buy. So the children will actually see eggs, and then they would be developed into the chicks, and then they can follow that through to the chickens on the farms, and things like that. Butterflies, are another big one, that often gets done.
Skip to 4 minutes and 5 secondsWhere you get to see the butterfly as an egg, and then develop through their life cycle. But also schools if they've got ponds and things like that, can also get out and see, other life cycles, such as that of tadpoles, and newts even. And children can observe these very, very carefully. And create a record of it through photographs, through videos, through writing, through whatever you can. You can also take this a little bit further. Maybe go visits places. So go visit a farm. At this time of year there is tons going on that the children can relate to. And see life cycles in action. They can also start modeling, and things like that back in the classroom.
Skip to 4 minutes and 36 secondsSo this is a great idea that I've done with some teachers here. Where the teachers had models of the butterfly life cycle, using sweets, fruits, whatever's around, and can be a great form of assessment, and that I'd come from an idea that came from the primary science magazine through ASC. Any other ideas?
Skip to 4 minutes and 56 secondsKaren Brunyee: I was just thinking, you do need to be careful, those are fantastic ideas. But you need to make sure the children are aware that those are a small percentage of the animals. And we also have mammals, which don't follow that, don't have a larval stage. Fish, their stages are completely different. I absolutely love the Kit Kat advert that used to be on in the UK, about the salmon and how the different stages. Also thinking about plants, and about their different stages.
Skip to 5 minutes and 23 secondsThere's an idea I got when I was living in New Zealand about a plant that has three different life stages which are completely different, the different parts of its life when it's small plant, when it's a very tall tree. So it's important that they have an overview of all the different life cycles.
Skip to 5 minutes and 40 secondsSarah Dagnell: And I'm just thinking actually, we're missing quite an important one, which is the life cycle of a human, which of course we can ask, maybe sweat moms to bring babies in, and so on. And it's really important that we encourage the children to ask loads of questions with it, as well.
Skip to 6 minutes and 1 secondTanya Shields: Thank you. Phil asked us a question about light. How do you teach light? And Phil wanted to know some of the more scientific concepts about, do we teach children about how light travels in straight lines, or the fact that it actually travels in waves. It's quite a simple one to answer this. Within the UK curriculum, it states that children should know that light travels in straight lines. So a very, very simple way of asking your children to identify about, it's just looking at how light travels through the clouds.
Skip to 6 minutes and 27 secondsAnd if you're fortunate enough to see these sun beams coming through here, you can see that this photograph, the children could almost put a ruler up against that, and see how straight the light is traveling through the clouds. And this one's quite a nice one, as well, you can see the sun beams traveling through the forest there. Once you've established that concept in the classroom, we'd like our children to maybe have that hands-on experience and demonstrate this in the classroom. So in secondary classrooms, you're more likely to see this type of kit which would have.
Skip to 6 minutes and 58 secondsOops, I don't think we've got the bulb that fits into there and it plugs in, and then we've got little slides with slots in there. And then the light travels through, and you see these beams of light on them. Now, not suggesting that we use those in the primary classroom. And for what you can do is mock that up. If you get some really nice, thick card. What I've actually done here is stuck two pieces of card together, and I've almost mimicked the race light on there.
Skip to 7 minutes and 26 secondsAnd you're not gonna be able to see this very well on the video clip, but if you just use a torch, and you can line that up, and what you'd get is the line, the light traveling through that little slit on the piece of carpet. So the children, again, you can see what shape it makes, put a ruler up against it, and see how it's a straight line. And you could try it with different objects. So you could stick different objects in front of the torch and see how the shadow's created there. Okay, any other thoughts ladies?
Skip to 7 minutes and 54 secondsSarah Dagnell: I've done a lovely one using modeling, light going in straight lines. That's actually based on a video that's on the STEM website, which you could have a little look at, and we'll give the links to you later on. This was looking at a light source and a mirror and a teddy, and just looking at how we might actually see the teddy. And actually mapping out the lines of light, using the wool, which was quite a nice idea. The children had to come up, really think about the concepts and realize that we couldn't have the wobbly wool, we had make it straight.
Skip to 8 minutes and 30 secondsAnd they had to make sure that it hits the certain things and the light had to start from the light source, and such. It was a really nice way of them doing it.
Skip to 8 minutes and 39 secondsTanya Shields: Thank you.
Skip to 8 minutes and 39 secondsKaren Brunyee: The time I've used it is when we've been doing about Ancient Greece and the myth of the labyrinth. And we got the children to imagine that Theseus had a light source and you could bounce it off lots of mirrors and you see if you could chase it. This from my older class, and we actually got the projectors out and measured the angle of reflection as well. So that's a really nice extension to that.
Skip to 9 minutes and 3 secondsTanya Shields: Cross curriculum as well.
Skip to 9 minutes and 5 secondsKaren Brunyee: It is.
Skip to 9 minutes and 7 secondsTanya Shields: Thank you, Karen.
Skip to 9 minutes and 7 secondsKaren Brunyee: So we had a question from Catherine. And she is asking how you can do something practical to classify how animals eat, the sorts of food that they eat. And I was thinking there's some fantastic resources out there that you can do around what sorts of teeth different animals have, and how that affects what they eat. There's a wonderful book where it's got little children, and they imagine that they've got different teeth. My favorite one is the snake, and it's what foods can I eat if I'm a snake and I've just got snake teeth?
Skip to 9 minutes and 38 secondsIf you're very lucky and you have access to real skulls that still have the teeth in them, you can get the children to have a look at those. And say, well, this animal has some very flat teeth. Now, I can feel these, I'm quite lucky cuz I've got one in my hand. I can feel it's very flat and worn down. So how would that help the animal? What sorts of food would that eat? What's quite nice about this muntjac skeleton is it's also got this rather large incisor. What does it use that for? And then looking at the skulls. Get the children to compare them with common household utensils. Have them look at a potato masher.
Skip to 10 minutes and 14 secondsIs that similar to these sorts of teeth? What can we eat with a potato masher? We can't each steak and things like that, it's too chewy. So we need things that are soft or things that we can grind down. Whereas sharp incisors are probably a bit more like knives. We probably don't our children touching the knives, but looking at them, comparing them to the different animal teeth. Real skulls, obviously if we have them, but these ones come from an education resource supplier. And they're skulls. And you can get the children to look at the different teeth that happen to be inside here. So obviously that one's a rhino.
Skip to 11 minutes and 0 secondsWhat do his teeth look like compared with this one, which is actually a dolphin? What would they look like? See these little plastic ones, probably not the best, you can probably get photographs and things like that and just compare, okay this has got flat teeth, this lion has got sharp teeth, snake's got the pointy fangs. And compare what kind of teeth they have, compare them with what sorts of foods they would eat. Compare them with our own teeth, what do we use our own teeth for? Bite into an apple, we use the front teeth. When we're eating it we use our back teeth and why?
Skip to 11 minutes and 23 secondsTanya Shields: I wondered whether we could do, you know the story the Mole Who Knew it was None of His Business?
Skip to 11 minutes and 35 secondsSarah Dagnell: Yeah.
Skip to 11 minutes and 35 secondsTanya Shields: So the story is that the mole sticks his head up from out of the hole. And unfortunately it happens during the same time as a certain animal is depositing feces on his head. And he goes around talking about poo, that was the-
Skip to 11 minutes and 51 secondsSarah Dagnell: Mm-hm.
Skip to 11 minutes and 51 secondsTanya Shields: Yeah, he goes around trying to find out which animal it was that actually left the poo on his head. And it looks at all the different pictures of the animals. So you can maybe talk about the foods that those animals are eating and why it looks the way that it does. And certainly the horse one, we've tried making before we shredded wheat and chocolate spread to make it actually look, so we've got a bit of modeling in there. But it's recognized process of identifying animals by scat.
Skip to 12 minutes and 17 secondsKaren Brunyee: Yes.
Skip to 12 minutes and 17 secondsTanya Shields: Is scat the technical name for animal poop? Yeah sorry.
Skip to 12 minutes and 18 secondsSarah Dagnell: I was just thinking that the British Science Week activity books that they came out with recently had a great one about being able to make poo. And if that were the idea of that was that you could hide different types of food that he might be eating in there. So that might be something that you think about, setting up for the activity like that.
Skip to 12 minutes and 34 secondsTanya Shields: It's certainly an extension to the activity where you're looking at teeth which fits directly with the program of study. But if you're looking for that deeper, that understanding, it's a nice extension.
Skip to 12 minutes and 45 secondsSarah Dagnell: I also think, linked with that, though, we've talked in this course a lot about types of inquiry. And this fits in a lot with your research if you're looking for reasons to look online for things, for example.
Skip to 12 minutes and 57 secondsKaren Brunyee: I was asked by Fran and she just said, have you got any practical ideas and advice for teaching space? Well, we're very, very lucky here at the STEM Centre because we have the ESERO, it's the European Space Education Office. It's based here. And they've produced thousands of resources all around the topic of space. They cover the national curriculum objectives from the English national curriculum, but also the Welsh and Scottish and Northern Irish curriculum. But they also have ways of using space as a context. So if you're doing about materials, different activities to do around space using those.
Skip to 13 minutes and 29 secondsI have one here, which is a brilliant one, because obviously in space they're subject to a lot of UV because there's no ozone layer to block it. So a lot of work goes into developing things so the astronauts don't get skin damage and things. So these just are very, very cheap to purchase, they're called UV beads. And you can use these to show the children how different materials, different liquids and things can be affected by UV. And the children could design something that will not allow the UV to go through. It's quite nice to test different sun creams, put them on. And then what happens is the UV bead, as you can see it's quite white there.
Skip to 14 minutes and 22 secondsBut when you shine UV light on it, it will change color. And hopefully this one will go purple. If they've put something like the sun cream on and it has blocked the UV, it will stay the nice pale white color. There's some fabulous ideas around that and they're all on the ESERO page at the STEM website, so lots to explore in there.
Skip to 14 minutes and 38 secondsSarah Dagnell: And of course you don't need to have the UV light to do that, you can just take them to a window or outside ideally on a sunny day.
Skip to 14 minutes and 46 secondsKaren Brunyee: Sunny day.
Skip to 14 minutes and 47 secondsTanya Shields: [LAUGH]
Skip to 14 minutes and 48 secondsKaren Brunyee: Good luck.
Skip to 14 minutes and 49 secondsSarah Dagnell: [LAUGH]
Skip to 14 minutes and 50 secondsTanya Shields: Thank you. So question three comes from Freddie and Marianne, who are wanting some confirmation about what practical science actually is. Now, I think there's a misconception in schools that practical science is about doing that full inquiry where children are asking questions, they're coming up with a way to investigate it, they're getting that information, that data and they're drawing conclusions from that. But the examples that we've shown you today, they're not about that full inquiry. The exploration of the skulls looking at the teeth. That multi-sensory approach is still a practical science. So you have time to let your children explore and develop that subject knowledge just through looking at resources.
Skip to 15 minutes and 34 secondsMaybe we could even say, for some practical elements, using card sorts or looking at pictures. They're not going to develop the subject knowledge as deeply as we would like. But when we're working with space and we're looking at animals from different habitats, we haven't got the ability to actually bring elephants and giraffes into our classrooms. So the practical side of it is letting your children talk, letting them Move around let them look at as many resources as possible but you're absolutely right to raise that question yes, practical science isn't just about investigations. But it is about the children developing their ideas through exploration in whatever media that might be. Okay, question four is about organizing practical science.
Skip to 16 minutes and 16 secondsIt leads on quite nicely from the previous question. Susan has made some points and Karen is gonna start us off with this one.
Skip to 16 minutes and 34 secondsKaren Brunyee: So Susan asked, have we got any tips for whole class teaching of practical science? Well, searching from my own experience, I always used to have classes of 30 and above, and they'd all be working together. So I've had lots of experience with this. So it's not just setting up small groups and things like that. It's allowing the children to choose a question, whether they choose the same question, they're all working on the same idea. Or they're choosing different ones around a similar theme whatever the overarching topic might be that day. So I suppose what it is is it's training them that they can do it without me standing over them and making sure that they're all engaged.
Skip to 17 minutes and 5 secondsThings like using the rolls, that we introduced in week two. And saying okay, this is your roll, you know what you need to do. Making sure that they know exactly what they're doing, so it's sort of stopping them. Maybe give them ten minutes to explore, and decide what we're going to do, and then stop. Come up with a hinge point, questions, and then say, okay what is it your doing, you're questioning what you're investigating then letting them get on. And then what I used to do because I needed to watch what one group would do one week is I would stay focused with one group.
Skip to 17 minutes and 43 secondsLike you would with any other lesson, if you were sitting and doing a writing lesson, you would probably choose a group to go and sit with. But you'd be aware of what everybody else is up to. And making sure that that group that you were focusing on, were engaged with it. Where do the, you were able to choose a skill, where you were going to assess or something like that. And then just a few minutes, ten minutes, pop up, how's everyone getting on. Have we all, make sure you're asking those specific questions you want the answers to. But trusting that the children in your class are going to be getting on and answering.
Skip to 18 minutes and 16 secondsIf they've come up with their own question, they'll want to know what the answer is and if you've got a role, you've got small enough groups that they've all got a job to do, I wouldn't leave them for 40 minutes without any guidance. You need to pop around is everyone okay? Is everyone working okay? Maybe have as one of your role people someone who goes around and makes sure that. Everyone's on task and helps out with key words. Yeah, just make sure you get feedback from every group, and make sure that they've all answered the question that they were doing.
Skip to 18 minutes and 43 secondsJust do that every so often and at the end, you've got some assessment from everybody, even though you've targeted your one group, that's worth it for me.
Skip to 18 minutes and 53 secondsTanya Shields: I think that the point with practical investigations is class doesn't learn how to work independently straight from the beginning. If you've got a whole school approach to this, then you will see those skills developing, but it's don't try this and expect it to work straight away. It takes several weeks, if not terms, to actually get this developed. And it might be that you just get them where you want to be in June, July, and then they're ready to go up to another class. But it's about developing their skills, and obviously the investigations that you ask them to do.
Skip to 19 minutes and 29 secondsThe younger the children, the less complicated the investigations they have to do, and the less time you probably leave them as well to do that. Sorry were you gonna
Skip to 19 minutes and 36 secondsSarah Dagnell: Very, very similar to what you were saying. Was about the fact that this was about practice, and it's about routine. And you see it particularly when you take children outside, I think. Because we often worry about taking children outside but we're often actually commenting that they're at their very best when you get them out there. But that is because a lot of the time we have set those rules, we've set those routines and the children know exactly what's expected of them and because they want to enjoy the activity, they want to join in. They actually do behave their best. And they're the same standards that we should be setting in our classroom.
Skip to 20 minutes and 8 secondsTanya Shields: Our next question is from Fran. And she's asking, how often should I teach science? In her school they work with a curriculum where science isn't taught on a weekly basis. Now this is something that we find in a lot of schools where they've developed their programs to be based on a scheme of work that they have in schools. Now, it's very clear that the advice from off study with him maintaining curiosity documents is that the best prime science is where it is taught regularly. Personally, I would feel that science should be taught at least fortnightly. I would actually like it being taught every week and I would try a length of a couple of hours a week.
Skip to 20 minutes and 49 secondsAnd I think if you're in a situation where you have a curriculum or a scheme that doesn't allow for you to do that. I think you need to think about adding extra science into your weekly routine. But focuses on maybe some stand alone science to make sure that your children are maintaining their science inquiry skills because I think that's what Fran was asking here. Is that, how do you maintain the children's skills and carrying out an investigation when you go weeks on end without actually doing that? I actually think it's a whole school issue that needs to be discussed here, and I know that.
Skip to 21 minutes and 26 secondsSarah, you've worked in a school before where you've looked at the curriculum and you've had to add extra science to make sure that you have that coverage.
Skip to 21 minutes and 33 secondsSarah Dagnell: We did it was difficult because I'm sure you find this fun, but just like you, I was having to do Standalone science lessons. And I was really struggling with really feeling like the children get the depth of understanding concepts that I felt that they needed. And so as the science coordinator in the school I did, alongside our SLT, make that decision that we would do some standalone lessons to ensure that the children were getting that coverage.
Skip to 21 minutes and 57 secondsTanya Shields: So really good question, and it's one that we get asked a lot, how much science shall we be teaching. Our next question's from Claire, and she would like to know how you make time for teachers to observe science. I think this is a really important question. I often ask teachers what are the best skills to finding out what children know. And if you could only use three strategies for the rest of your career. They would say it would be asking questions, observing, and that means listening to them talk as well. So, Karen, you're going to explain a little bit more about this one.
Skip to 22 minutes and 30 secondsKaren Brunyee: Yeah, so Claire was with me in an early years unit and she was saying how it was observing and listening to each other was the key that she did. But she was finding her colleagues working in phases up in the school were finding it more challenging, didn't have the time to be able to do that. And what I would suggest, what I did when I was in a year six class was I focused on one particular skill. So I would have alongside my learning objective for knowledge and understanding I'd also have a skill that I thought I wanted to focus on that lesson.
Skip to 23 minutes and 4 secondsSo therefore, you're narrowing down the amount of time that you're having to do, so you're not having to say, plan a whole investigation. And look at everything, so I'm not looking at can they plan, can they predict, can they record, are they observing carefully, are they presenting their data. I'm not doing all those things in one lesson. But if I've got my long term plan, I can sort them into where I'm gonna cover those particular skills. And then with which group am I gonna focus that on? So if I've done my pre-assessment and then know that say this group of children are particularly weak at presenting their data or making evaluations based on the data that they've done.
Skip to 23 minutes and 36 secondsThen I would focus my observations on that. And, I would look at the rest of the class as a whole, but that week would be where my close observation was and then just one skill. So we might have everything set up ready to go and they were just following a process, a bit like a recipe, and that's teaching a lesson because the skill I wanted them to do was evaluate what they had found out. The next week it might be, right? This week I'd like you to set a question, and I'm not so worried about how they draw the graph, I'd like them to draw the graph and I'd like to see the progression and all that.
Skip to 24 minutes and 15 secondsBut my focus would be on are they able to plan, are they able to do that beginning part, ask a question?
Skip to 24 minutes and 22 secondsSarah Dagnell: Yeah I think with this as well it's an area where you can start bringing technology into it. And in more and more classrooms we seem to have access to iPads or tablets, which the children can actually use themselves. And children can actually be filming themselves, taking photos of themselves during this. And on a lot of the courses that I've had recently there's usually at least one teacher in the room who will mention an app that they've been using that has been great for helping them to get the children to manage this for themselves.
Skip to 24 minutes and 55 secondsThe one that seems the most popular at the moment is one called Seesaw, which is actually sold as a student driven digital platform where they can independently record their own learning. They can actually take pictures for themselves. And then that's all very easily manageable for the teacher, and it's easy for them to watch it back later on. So it's great for those little key moments where you feel like you might have missed watching a certain group or missed watching a certain child, that you can actually look back at that work cuz you've got it there, digitally, which is fantastic. And it's there as a good source of evidence.
Skip to 25 minutes and 27 secondsTanya Shields: Thank you. Karen sort of touched a little bit on how you manage time there, and that leads into our next question from Sally and Charlotte who are asking about how much evidence do you actually need in your books? What do you record in science? So Charlotte would like to know specifically what you put in there. There isn't a definitive answer to that. Certainly the guidance from Ofsted is saying that they're not going to dictate what happens in schools, or how you do things. So Karen mentioned about the observations and how you focus on one specific area. And it's much the same when you're recording in books.
Skip to 26 minutes and 5 secondsSo if I was going to a school in carrying out a book scrutiny, I wouldn't expect to find as much in the young children's books as I would in the Upper Key Stage 2. Where I would expect in Upper Key Stage 2, I would expect to see children writing conclusions, picking out what they've learned and linking that back with evidence. I'd also expect to see a more sophisticated form of recording data. So I'd expect to see the scatter graphs in there and the line graphs. And I think that's probably where you see the greatest differentiation, because books, or the greatest progression, across the books is the way that the children record.
Skip to 26 minutes and 42 secondsI saw some lovely books just last week from a class teacher who had got a variety of activities in there. And they've got photographs of work that the children have been doing. What was lovely about this, it wasn't the photographs just for the sake of recording evidence, it was photographed so that the children were able to annotate and consolidate their learning. So what we need to be clear about is what goes into the books is absolutely for the children to develop their understanding of that topic. It shouldn't be there as a piece of evidence to inform Ofsted or for parent's evenings. We all know that that's what happens in schools.
Skip to 27 minutes and 18 secondsAnd actually, it is nice for children to show parents their work and to have that evidence as a bit of security. But ultimately, everything we do in the classroom we should be asking, how is this developing children's learning? And if it isn't, then we need to question how we do it. And certainly consider how much time we spend on that. So hopefully that answers Charlotte's part of the question. Sally asked a little bit more in more detail, which Sarah's going to take a look at.
Skip to 27 minutes and 44 secondsSarah Dagnell: Yeah, Sally had actually mentioned about how you would record a lesson that involved a lot of talking and practical skills. And again, it's that technology that might come into this to help you to be able do that. IPads and tablets, again, have that great capability, have been able to take videos, photographs, and that the children get to manage that themselves as well. I've already mentioned Seesaw, which is a great app that you might be able to use. But things like Sketch and Adobe Spark video are all free app as well.
Skip to 28 minutes and 12 secondsThat allow children to be able to take that control and give you a bit of manageability to be able to get that evidence in there without you having to actually do it all. But it can even be simpler than that. So it could be that you could get the children to write little Post-it notes about what they're doing, put them into a big book. That can be alongside your actual workbooks. And then you've got that little bit of evidence there. It's not big, its not onerous, but it is something quick and easy that you can put together as a class.
Skip to 28 minutes and 42 secondsTanya Shields: There was a teacher, she used to put an iPad in a corner of the room and turned it into sort of a bit of a diary room like you would have on Big Brother. So at the end of a lesson, the children could go and record themselves and just say well, this is what we've been doing for our investigation, and this is what we've found out. And it just worked really nicely cuz it didn't have that whole class view where children have to put forward their ideas. It had a certain level of anonymity, but certainly the recording was there for the class teacher, which was absolutely great.
Skip to 29 minutes and 12 secondsSarah mentioned about the big books, and I think what I'm going to end this question on is that Ofsted are not looking for a set way of recording in science, that is down to the school. So have the confidence to try something new. It doesn't have to be a permanent fixture, but if it works for your children, then that's got to be the justification for doing it in the classroom. So maybe take a little bit of a risk, take a chance and see what the children produce, because it might actually surprise you.
Skip to 29 minutes and 46 secondsKaren Brunyee: So our next question was from a teacher who was working with her class of children, who she said were less able than her more able children. And she just wanted to know of ways that we could support that. How could they join in the conversation? Now, I run a course here at STEM Centre where we work with teachers who are supporting special educational needs children. And some of the things that we've developed through that course are different ways of engaging those children in whole class practical work. Now, they're going to learn a lot through practical work.
Skip to 30 minutes and 20 secondsI've had children who refuse to join in conversations and things like that, but as soon as you bring in the practical element, they're in, they're hands on, they're getting that sensory experience. I found that with one particular child, a puppet was fantastic, because she wouldn't speak to me, but as soon as the puppet was talking to her, she was engaged. And then she would have a puppet on her hand, and they'd be having a really detailed conversation about the science that she'd understood. Whereas when the puppet wasn't there, she wouldn't speak. Other things that we've sort of looked at are things like using Bloom's taxonomy if you're familiar with that.
Skip to 30 minutes and 57 secondsIt's about questioning and how you move your children through by asking them more and more complex questions. And this is something that I developed, just a simple way so that those children who maybe weren't able to give a really detailed response were still giving a response. So just taken from Bloom's just be very simple, what happened? Prediction, what do you think will happen? This was a question with the raisins and the lemonade, which you saw at the beginning with the various young children in one of the videos. And what do you think would happen with larger fruits? So they're actually having to think there, but you're giving them the guidance. Moving onto, why did that happen?
Skip to 31 minutes and 39 secondsAnd then they've got a space that they can record their ideas, or they could just speak it through. If they're really unwilling to engage in the conversation work really, really well, so they could just record their answer into a button, play that back. Like Sarah's saying, there's lots of apps out there that you can have where the children can talk into the app, play it back on your white board. Then they're not having to stand in front of the whole class. But if you structured your questions Really carefully then they should all be able to access at some point and for your most stable, you're moving right to the top of Bloom's, what relationship exists between the two things?
Skip to 32 minutes and 16 secondsSo you're not cutting anybody off. It's just the questions that you ask the children that they're going to feedback with, are leveled.
Skip to 32 minutes and 20 secondsSarah Dagnell: I think with this one though it's important to point out that sometimes what you consider to be your less able children might not be when it comes to science. And I've had just recently using the Explorify program actually in my own classroom I've had many experiences of that, particularly with one child who really does struggle to write things down. But comes alive in those sessions and comes out with the most wonderful ideas. He's obviously got the most scientific brain and has all those facts and that knowledge in there. And actually I turned around and actually asked the class about why they liked Explorify, because they evidently did. They ask me all the time to be on there.
Skip to 32 minutes and 59 secondsAnd he was the first one to put his hand up. And he said, the thing about it is that I like that I can't be wrong and that I can give any answer that I want to. And for a child who is used to feeling like they can't achieve, it gives them that achievement that they can't always get.
Skip to 33 minutes and 20 secondsTanya Shields: I'm just thinking back to the research around thinking time. So when you ask a question, make sure that you give children that time to actually think of the question, so three seconds. I can't remember the specifics of the research but it was saying that teachers, on average, gave less than one second for the children to respond to a question before they filled that silence. But actually it shows we need to leave at least three seconds for children to come up with ideas. So give them that individual thinking time. So what do you think the answer to this would be?
Skip to 33 minutes and 54 secondsAnd then all shout out a response so the children haven't got that option of saying yeah, I think what he thought or my answer is the same as them. It's trying to get that anonymity in there, but also forcing children to all answer the question without relying on somebody else. Confidence, I think, building that climate where they feel that they can do it. And just maybe increasing their confidence a little bit, which is the topic that was at the link there.
Skip to 34 minutes and 22 secondsKaren Brunyee: Definitely.
Skip to 34 minutes and 22 secondsTanya Shields: Our next question is around English as an additional foreign language. Now Rachel, Alex, and Maryell sent in questions around this. We had a look around this morning on resources that are available on our STEM site, and we actually came across a PowerPoint that had 50 strategies for supporting EAL students in their classroom. And one that particularly stood out was looking at using images to support the everyday language that we use in the classroom. So if you're using different pieces of equipment, say you use thermometers, make sure that you've got a little picture of a thermometer next to that keyword.
Skip to 34 minutes and 56 secondsSo very much like the strategies that you would use with very young children in your classrooms, labeling trays with pictures, to help the children who may not have that vocabulary. Use imagery as much as possible. So we'll put a link to that on the website so that you can see where that resource is and hopefully download some of those resources and try out those strategies in your classroom. The other point that we were looking at was around scientific vocabulary, and Sarah's going to explain that a little bit more.
Skip to 35 minutes and 23 secondsSarah Dagnell: Yeah, so earlier on in the course we looked at vocabulary maps. And I would look again at those if you are wanting some resources to help you with vocabulary for EAL students. They're fab, and they've got some lovely clear words on them that will be easily used in your classroom. But thinking about the 50 strategies resource that Tanya mentioned just a few moments ago. There was one on there that talked about pre-learning and children pre-learning vocabulary, and having that vocabulary around and visible to them throughout their learning in science. And there are some lovely ways you can do this, but I thought I'd share just one of the more fab ones that I've seen recently.
Skip to 36 minutes and 4 secondsWhich is people that might be walking around the classroom, it could be teachers, it could actually be children themselves, but wearing maybe lab coats or a t-shirts that is covered with the language that they're using for that topic. So then as their teacher's walking around, if the children are walking around, you'll be able to constantly see that vocabulary and remind yourself of the word you should be using.
Skip to 36 minutes and 22 secondsTanya Shields: I've actually seen that used as an assessment tool as well, so the children, once they've proven that they can use that scientific word correctly. And that they understand it then they can add it to their jackets, so they use it almost like a badge of honor. So the children that have got lots of words on are showing that they can use those words. Now what I would do as the class teacher is make sure I do spot checks on there. So can you just tell me what that word is? And well, it might have to be scrubbed out if you can't use it.
Skip to 36 minutes and 50 secondsSo just keeping children active all the time and making sure that they're not becoming complacent about their learning. So thank you.
Skip to 36 minutes and 57 secondsKaren Brunyee: Our final question came from Peter, and Peter asked, he's working in an international school actually in southeast Asia, and he said how do we think about context when you're teaching the children the science? And this is where the key focus is the children's science capital. Science capital is a fantastic concept that's been developed where you look at the children in your class or a child as an individual, and you think about sort of a backpack that they might have that contains everything that they know about science. So where they get science from, so do their parents talk about science? Do they watch science TV sorts of shows? Do they go to science museums? Are they interested in science?
Skip to 37 minutes and 38 secondsDo they read books around science? What do they listen to in school and that sort of thing. And together, that backpack becomes their science capital. And as Peter suggested, in his schools, there's certain things that don't fit. I was talking to some colleagues who work in the Middle East. And they were saying, our children don't understand about putting a hat and a scarf on to be cold because they're never cold. But every single child from very, very young would be able to tell you how to survive in the desert, which animals to avoid that might sting you.
Skip to 38 minutes and 11 secondsI mean, our children here in the UK would tell you a bee might be something, well not a bee so much but it might sting, and you have to work with what your children understand. So it's matching the context that you're teaching to the children's particular interests. I had a little girl who was obsessed with volcanoes. She told me at the age of seven she was going to be a volcanologist, and so we did lots of investigations around volcanoes, how are they built, we made some volcanoes. It matched with our materials topic because I made sure that it did to match her interests. Another child wanted to go into space. So you do a lot of research around that.
Skip to 38 minutes and 51 secondsAnd it's just matching what they're doing in the context, you've got your learning objectives so make sure that you're not doing something that is completely out of your children's experience.
Skip to 39 minutes and 3 secondsTanya Shields: It's kind of demystifying this whole feeling that science is something for the really elite. Science is for everybody, it's in our everyday lives. And trying to make children aware of it so that science is something that's accessible for all.
Skip to 39 minutes and 18 secondsKaren Brunyee: Yes. That they find personal meaning in their own science. And go with the questions that the children ask. One of the final things I'll finish with is, we were watching the Winter Olympics, and my children were amazed about the ski jumpers. They couldn't believe how crazy they were. So we had a conversation, do you think they're really, really brave, are they braver than Summer Olympians? We designed investigations to launch little skiers off ramps and all sorts of things, because they were interested in that. And then I found the learning objective that matched with their interests.
Skip to 39 minutes and 49 secondsTanya Shields: I think there's something interesting about that point, I think that might be why some teachers are not as confident teaching science because the children come up with a question that might floor them, they might not have the answer to it. And I always say to new teachers, it's the best subject for giving you a little bit of a get out. Because if a child comes up to you and says what's this and you haven't got a clue what that answer is you turn around and you go, [SOUND] isn't that interesting? Shall we write that down and we'll see what we can find out about it.
Skip to 40 minutes and 22 secondsSo give yourself a little bit of time to find the answer, and that's all scientists are doing. They're thinking about how the world works and they spend time thinking about those answers. So if you're not sure what the answer is, rather than tell them something that might not be accurate, it's the [SOUND] isn't that interesting strategy.
Skip to 40 minutes and 39 secondsKaren Brunyee: Great, so that wraps up our question and answer session, hope it's been useful. We'd like to thank you for your excellent questions, they show that we've got a fantastic scientific teaching community out there.
Skip to 40 minutes and 50 secondsTanya Shields: If you'd like to continue CPD with us here at STEM learning, we have a number of face-to-face CPD opportunities for you which I'm sure you will find equally as engaging and you will find a wealth of ideas through the practical activities that we do here. Sarah leads our embedding working scientifically courses. And she's just gonna tell you a little bit about those.
Skip to 41 minutes and 8 secondsSarah Dagnell: They fit in perfectly with this. We do a lot on scientific inquiry, looking how we can make your lessons as practical as possible. We look at that child-led investigation a lot of you have been asking about. And yet just give you a whole briefcase of activities to go back to school and try out in your schools. And everybody who comes along seems to have a great time. [LAUGH]
Skip to 41 minutes and 35 secondsTanya Shields: So thank you again for your time and we hope to see you in York sometime.
Q&A with Tanya, Karen and Sarah
The question and answer (Q&A) sessions in our online courses are the perfect opportunity to discuss any outstanding questions from your reflection grids.
Whilst we have picked up a number of your questions through the course discussions, the Q&A session allows you to provide more information about specific issues and gives us the opportunity to provide a more detailed response.
Tanya, Sarah and Karen have recorded their responses to a selection of questions you posted below on the course content and your teaching context. We recorded this video on 26 March 2018. A transcript will be available shortly.
If you missed out on posting your question in time for the Q&A, you can join the STEM Group for Primary Science or sign up for the next run of Teaching Primary Science: Getting Started which will be in Autumn.
- 0m52s - Revisiting previous learning and prior knowledge - Natalie
- 3m12s - Teaching life cycles - Mariam
- 5m58s - Teaching light - Phil
- 9m07s - Teaching grouping of animals by what they eat - Kathryn
- 12m58s - Teaching space - Fran
- ESERO UK teaching resources (National STEM Learning Centre)
- Teaching Primary Science: Humans in Space (National STEM Learning Centre Online CPD)
- Our Solar System and Beyond: Teaching Primary Science (Royal Observatory Greenwich on FutureLearn)
- 14m52s - What can be ‘practical’ science? - Marianne and Freddie
- 16m17s - Whole class teaching of practical science - Suzanne
- 20m08s - How often to teach science - Fran
- 22m02s - Forms of assessment in practical science - Claire
- 25m37s - Evidencing learning through practical work - Sally and Charlotte
- 29m48s - Engaging lower-ability pupils - Wai Leng
- 34m25s - Science for pupils with English as an additional language - Rachel
- EAL toolkit (STEM Learning Resource)
- 35m24s - Vocabulary for science - Alex and Mariel
- 36m58s - Making science relevant to pupils and different cultural backgrounds - Peter
- 40m50s - Next steps for your CPD
Thank you for all your questions and your participation on the course.