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Q&A with course educators

Q&A with course educators
MATT CORNOCK: Hello and welcome to the course summary for teaching for home learning for primary science. Thank you very much for participating on the course. And throughout the course discussions, there were a few issues and comments that were raised that I thought was really worth touching upon today. And I’m delighted to be joined by Rachel Jackson, who’s one of our primary science subject specialists. So the first question is on assessment. And it’s about how we assess children’s learning to make it really meaningful and move their learning forward, and particularly where we can do this with younger year groups through remote learning as well. So, Rachel, over to you.
RACHEL JACKSON: Thanks, Matt. So, yeah, this is a really big topic. And it’s been a topic of conversation in our primary community forum that I’ve been keeping an eye on over the last few weeks. A lot of teachers are finding it difficult to actually not just assess, but assess children’s learning remotely. And especially as you’re saying, the work often may not be done independently. So, some ideas– a lot of teachers are using similar techniques to the ones they’d use in the classroom. They’re just delivering it differently. So things like concept cartoons for pre-assessments to find where your children are before you actually are then planning where to take them next are really useful things.
And again, they can be done over remotely, as in online. Or you can actually send images home that children can then discuss with parents or discuss in a remote learning class through Google Classrooms or Teams or whatever they’re using, if they are using that. And so other things– Explorify websites, teachers find extremely useful for again identifying children’s misconceptions or their preconceptions about what they’re going to be learning. So again, that’s a really solid basis to then build their learning on. There’s Odd One Outs on there, which are useful to use. Again, you could send home paper copies of this that children could work on.
And again, getting children to draw things– so drawing what they think is happening is a useful thing to do, especially with children who perhaps aren’t ready to write things out or don’t have the full vocabulary. Concept maps, knowledge organisers are other things that have been discussed. And I would suggest having a look on there, because you can actually post another question in there. And there’s lots of teachers that can actually support you with that. If you do have the luxury of Teams or Google Classroom or some sort of online way to deliver lessons, you can do things through Padlet or quizzes through Kahoots. There’s quizzes through Google as well, you can do on Microsoft.
So there’s lots of different ways that you can do that. If you don’t have that, you can do things like paper-based activities, such as matching objects to their actual meanings, so that children are actually learning what words mean so they’re developing their knowledge of science. Games such as Bingo, again, are useful to send home. The parents can play with children, where they’re matching words and knowledge so they’re really developing their science and you’re finding what they’re actually learning. Again, assessment is a huge area, especially in primary science.
So we do have lots of courses on Future Learn that are dedicated to assessments, such as the Assessment for Learning Course, and also face to face courses in near you or regional courses up in York that you can access with bursaries. There’s one coming up in May, if you’re lucky enough to be able to get out of your school to actually attend it. So, yeah, there’s some of the ideas. And I would say there’s lots of other support for you if you’re out there not really knowing where to go with your assessment.
MATT CORNOCK: Thanks, Rachel. I mean, there’s lots of great ideas there. And as you said, the Assessment for Learning Courses– Intro to Assessment for Learning and Planning for Learning both have lots of these approaches demonstrated in the classroom. And then it’s about how do you work using the technology you’ve got in your particular school or context to translate those ideas to remote? So the next question is quite a tricky one actually. And it’s about the challenge of remote learning and not being able to cover the amount of content you would normally cover, particularly while using short videos.
And with the guidance that’s been given in the UK for about three hours of learning a day, how do we still expect mastery of concepts in science and the wider curriculum? And what happens on the return to school when we’ve not covered as much of the curriculum that we’d hoped?
RACHEL JACKSON: Well, I think the short answer to that is we can’t expect all of our children to all have learned in the same way, because everyone’s having a different experience of remote learning. So again, it comes back to assessments. And once children are back in school, it’s finding out where they are and then what we have to cover. It’s not an idea of giving more content to children and teachers to learn on top of the content that they’re still to learn within the curriculum. I think it’s taking a more measured approach and actually looking at the curriculum as a whole.
For example, for primary science, you could look at it for the whole of primary, through to early secondary, And identifying the gaps where children have had the remote learning experience or have been in lockdown and they haven’t learned a particular topic– and then looking at where they might next learn that topic in Key Stage 2 or even in Key Stage 3. And then it’s ensuring that you’re actually making a plan for two years ahead to actually support the learning that they missed when they’re looking at that topic again.
So it’s really very much the job of working with your science lead in your school and doing that as a whole, rather than pushing more and more content onto overly stressed children, and stressed teachers. Because being stressed is not a good way of learning. There are some really lovely resources out there that support this. Primary Science Teaching Trust have a recovery curriculum where they’ve actually mapped out how you can do this. For example, if you learn about light in year three, you’re not going to cover it again until year six. But some of the content from year three could easily be covered in that year six curriculum.
And again, it’s looking at skills as well and types of inquiry that children may have missed. And just flagging that up and making sure that you’re going to be covering that in other years is really important. There is another resource out there that we’ve been flagging up, which is called the CALM Curriculum, which is a lovely name. And again, there are lots of really lovely examples on there, for every year group, of how you can actually do this to them to support children in ensuring that they have access to the whole of the primary curriculum– but over a longer period of time.
MATT CORNOCK: Our final question, our final topic we wanted to look at was about how we can do activities for things like Science Week and whole-school opportunities, both remotely and when schools go back as well.
RACHEL JACKSON: OK. Well, Science Week is a great opportunity to get the whole school working as a whole again. Children have missed out on that. They’ve missed out on seeing the rest of the school, being in their isolated bubbles. So it is a lovely opportunity to do that. If you’re running your Science Week remotely, which I think most schools will be this year, then there is still lots of resources and ideas out there for you to be able to do that. We’ve got some lovely starters for STEM, starters for science activities, which use things that are found around the home.
So they’re science-based activities or STEM-based activities that could easily be carried out by older children or adults at home with younger children, without having to go and buy specialist equipment. There are some really nice ideas as well from the British Science Association. There’s loads of resource packs linked to different themes. And I know that, again, the Primary Science Teaching Trust have developed a quick - they’re called Whistlestop Science Weeks. So you’ve got a snapshot, one page of what you can actually do remotely with them, your school, based on whatever theme you want. You might want to pick space or light or time or flight.
Whatever your topic is, there is an opportunity to use one of those topics in a really easy minimal way of planning it. Again, if you did want to pick space, there is a Mission X programme that you can join. And the beauty of that is that actually there’s lots of activities, like PE challenges, that are really easy– that link into the science of PE as well– really easy for children to do at home. And the whole school could really get involved with doing something like that. And it’s part of a wider competition. So again, you can compete as a school, which brings the whole school together.
Again, STEM Ambassadors– there’s the option of getting STEM Ambassadors, who are and people who work in industry or in different roles linked in to science and technology. And they will actually do virtual talks or run virtual activities with children. So it’s worth having a look on the STEM Ambassadors page to find out what’s going on with them. Again, you could get children to research scientists. And each year group could have a different scientist to research. That’s something that can be done at home. And then they could bring it all together in a lovely presentation at the end. Again, there’s a talk going on about this very topic in that community.
So you can see what other teachers have posted in there and ask them a question if you want to find out more.
MATT CORNOCK: Yeah, the STEM community is really quite a great place at the moment for these questions and these discussions. And it can be accessed at And we welcome all teachers to join that, be a part of that community. Thank you very much, Rachel, some wonderful ideas there. We’ll put the links up on as well. Thank you very much to our participants in the course. And we hope you have enjoyed the course and take some great ideas that you can implement with your students too.

All online CPD courses from STEM Learning provide an opportunity to ask the educators more detailed questions as part of the course Q&A session.

We record responses to your outstanding questions from your reflection grids and course discussions. If there are ideas from the course you wish to explore further or issues about your own teaching context, then the Q&A provides a final opportunity to explore these with expert insight.


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Please note: if you post a question here it may be featured in the video recording along with your first name. The recording will be publicly viewed via this step and may also be uploaded to the STEM Learning YouTube channel.

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Teaching for Home Learning: Primary Science

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