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Q&A with course educators

This is your opportunity to post a question to Karen and Sarah about the course and your teaching context.
KAREN BRUNYEE: Hello, and welcome to the question and answer session for primary sites, Getting Started. We hope you’ve enjoyed being on the course, and you’ve got lots of useful things out of the sessions. Myself and Rachel are going to answer the questions that we’ve had. We only had a couple of questions this time. And the first came from one of our participants, named Chris. And Chris was asking for advice. As a nonspecialist science teacher, he really wants to know how to develop his in depth subject knowledge. Well that’s a really good question Chris. Because research from the Wellcome Trust, a few years ago, actually said as primary teachers were brilliant at what we do.
But maybe sometimes our subject knowledge isn’t always where we want it to be. And we sort of go, oh, I’m not sure that I’m going to get that right. So we sort keep that from answering those questions or taking our children further. So what’s really key is that we, as subject teachers, as science teachers, which is a primary school teacher, we really know our subject knowledge. And we’re ready to impart that to our children. So by opening our own personal subject knowledge, that can only help. Different ways you can do that, through future learning, where you’ve just done this course. Because there are quite a number of courses that we have put together, through STEM learning, for subject knowledge.
So there’s a chemistry, a physics, and three biology courses. The biology was cut into three, because it’s such a huge area in the primary curriculum. So that’s a really good first start, is to have a look at those five courses, and have worked through those. They look at the really key subject knowledge that will help you develop that primary science understanding. Other places you can go to, if you’re looking for further training, is actually come on some of the STEM learning face to face residential courses we run, from our National Centre. There’s a couple that actually look really specifically at subject knowledge. Again, like the future learning ones, we’ve broken them into chemistry, physics, and biology.
Or there’s a general one, where were looking for the science leaders and how they can develop their own knowledge, and then impart that onto their children. And if you’re looking for resources to support you, places like the BEST resources. So BEST were produced by the University of York. And they look at the progression through understanding of science concepts. Now they’re aimed not at teaching primary children. But they’re aimed at the concepts. So the big ideas behind physics, chemistry, and biology, and pulling them apart and what you might need to know first, and how you would work through that learning. So for your own personal subject knowledge, those are great places to have a look at.
Reachout CPD is another CPD provider, free online, that you can look at. For if you’re teaching the new subject, so a new topic, and you might want to look in there. And it has at the beginning of each topic, the subject knowledge that you need to understand. I know when I first started teaching from STEM, I started using the book called Misconceptions in Primary Science. And whereas I thought my subject was just pretty good, when I read that, I’d go, ooh, ooh. And that was really interesting. Because it highlights a misconception that a child might have and then explains the science behind it. So again, if we can never know what we don’t know.
So you might think gosh, I really understand that. One that comes to mind was the shadows of the moon and the shape of the moon through its phases. And I thought I’ve got that really clear. I read in that book Misconceptions about how actually the shapes of the moon are formed. And it threw me. And I got to the age of 40 and didn’t quite understand that. So I guess it’s knowing what we don’t know. So, sort of analysing our subject knowledge and then finding those places that will help to support us to develop our own subject knowledge. So I guess that were not, one, teaching misconceptions to our children. But two, we’re taking our learning further.
RACHEL JACKSON: Thanks, Karen. And the second question we have is from Jessica, who is asking how to make science more inclusive for EAL learners in the classroom. A lot of the strategies will be ones that will support all children in your class. So it’s things, for example, like teaching vocabulary. Because EAL children will really struggle with a lot of the key scientific vocabulary and what it means. But often these topics are new for all children. So actually dealing with how to do this effectively will support the whole of your class. And yes, one strategy is you can pre-teach vocabulary with the groups of children who have English as a second language or additional language.
You could even have a teaching assistant or another adult going out and playing little games with the children to really support their understanding of the key words that you’re going to be using in the next science lesson. So that when they’re in the lesson, and you’re teaching it with all the rest of the children as well, they’ll kind of have their confidence improved. And they’ll start recognising those words, in the context in which you’re using them. Again using picture prompts, so you have a picture of the vocabulary and the word next to it. So the children are making that link, and it’s not just pictures but actual real objects. Like really, reality. Like, if you’re teaching light.
You could maybe have things such as a candle but also a torch so you’re seeing lots of examples of the same word, in a sort of similar context. So they’re kind of making that link. Other things that you can do. You can use scientific words and contexts across the curriculum. So that way children, all children, as well as learners, are experiencing in that language in contexts in different subjects. And the more times you come across it, the more likely you are going to really understand that. So for example, if you’re plotting graphs, with data you’re collecting in a science investigation, and you’re using that same kind of language in your maths lessons, the children will have experienced it once before.
So when they come to do it in their science, it will be familiar to them. So they can focus a lot more on the actual scientific concepts in the words that they’re coming across for the first– well hopefully not for the first time, if you’ve pre-taught it. But you know what I mean. It’s less for them to actually have to then process. And again, another thing you can do is really give that extra bit of thinking time, for EAL children, so they have time to process what you’re saying, to try and make sense of it.
And then if they’re replying, if you’re asking them a question, they’ve got that time to process and then be able to articulate what they’re going to say, first in their own language, and then in the target language of English. So again, that strategy is really key for all teachers. Because often, I know that I perhaps did it a bit as well. We don’t give our children enough time to think. We’ll say, oh you’ve got 2 minutes to do that, and then very quickly ask them for answers. So it’s another key thing to just be aware of. So there are a couple of strategies there.
And we have got a resource that can I link you to on our website, which is 50 ideas for working with EAL children, in general. But again, you can adapt these really easily, these strategies for teaching science. Also there’s a couple of articles from the ASE, where teachers have actually tried to teach science in a different language, which is quite interesting one to look at. So children– they’ve actually come up with the idea, because you’re doing it in a really concise, clear way, children have learnt the science much better in a different language. Because you’ve had to be really clipped and concise with your own language. Because it’s not your first language. That’s an interesting one to read.
And there’s another one that looks about visualisation and how that works well. So yes, lots of ideas in other areas that you can have a look at to support you with that one. So there are only the two questions. So Thanks again for coming on this course. And hopefully we’ll see you lots more, either on our courses remotely, or up in York, or at one of your local courses.

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.

The course educators will 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.

Your questions

Thank you for posting your questions. The deadline for questions was 8th Feb 2021. We will be shortly recording responses and we’ll upload a video by 25th Feb 2021.

If your access to this course expires before we are able to upload the video, you can access the video at a later date via the STEM Learning YouTube channel.

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 Primary Science: Getting Started

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