Maintaining Curiosity for Science: Reading Reflection.

 

Reading Reference:
‘What does OFSTED say?’ Primary Science 133, May/June 2014, pgs. 16-18.
Key points:
In 2011 Ofsted triennial report identified issues that need to be addressed. This Included:

  • Lack of specialist expertise, both in Subject Knowledge (SK) and physical processes. This often led to limiting the progress of pupils.
  • Lack of Continual Professional Development (CPD).
  • Lack of practical lessons which develop skills.
  • Pupils not being aware of next steps towards progress.

The Ofsted report (2014) title itself represents the importance of maintaining curiosity. As practitioners, it seems as though we need to work hard to ensure science is increasingly enquiry based. Time should be given in science lessons to allow curiosity and exploration to occur.

Thinking time is important and should not be mistaken for not being productive in science lessons as the report suggests, thinking time is important when it comes to understanding the world around us. This was a learning point for me, as sometimes teachers, myself being one of them can get caught up with their plan and tasks, that it is easy to forget to take a moment to allow time to think. The reading suggests that meaningful links in other subjects, such as literacy enhance learning and progress in all the subjects involved. For example in literacy and science, reports and analytical writing.

Ofsted is concerned about over-reliance on published texts; where planning for enquiry is lacking. This can lead to a decrease in independence, thinking and doing things for themseleves in children. Activities should be about elicitation of knowledge through exploration, rather than formulaic practical’s. More time should be given in evaluation, analysis and enquiry. I personally liked this statement as from my own experience pratical Science lessons have been the one’s where I have experienced the most engagement. I have witnessed that practical lessons tend to be a good scaffold towards questioning and discussion.

Assessment is becoming an issues and children are often awarded levels that are ‘too high’, especially in comparison from the expectations that emerge within secondary school. A teacher needs to ensure the pupils knows exactly what they need to do next time to certify that achievement is paramount. Target: Look at different forms of assessment and lesson evaluations to ensure the teacher can set practical and realistic objectives for the individual child.

A tool for this is CPD, however the report suggest that not all subject leaders are receiving training, in order to improve their subject.

 Overview of points from the Ofsted (2014), ‘Maintaining Curiosity’ Report:

  • Ensuring enough time is there to teach the Science curriculum and that it is covered fully.
  • Ensuring that the provision of science increases.
  • Providing pupils with opportunities to plan and carry out original ideas.
  • Making relevant links to real life, especially links in numeracy and literacy. This allows pupils to make progress in both subjects.
Reflections:
This report gave me an insight to some of the issues that occur when it comes to teaching Science. It appeared familiar for example, within some of the setting’s I have had the chance to observe, Science does not always come across as a core subject. From my personal opinion, topics within Science can sometimes appeared rushed in settings and not as emphasised as other core subjects such as Literacy and Numeracy.  This shows a lack in potential knowledge and essential skills that could be offered from aspects such as enquiry and analysis, like the report mentioned. When observing Science lessons in School, it does not seem like the School’s fault the majority of the time, but instead a management system and practitioners who may not have the CPD or specialism in the subject, which could essentially lead to lack of confidence within the subject.

All of this has shown me the importance to consider what is essential when teaching a Science lesson as a trainee. This particularly includes: real life links, enquiry, analysis, evaluation and thinking time, which I perhaps would not have reflected on or thought about if I did not read this report.

As a trainee teacher I will now aim for investigation, practical but relevant activities, enquiry, independent thinking and discussion to take place during a Science lesson. I will aim to ask children how, what and why and allow them to enquire different ideas given by their peers. I also would like to ensure that there is as much emphasis on Science as there is on Literacy and Numeracy.

One useful point I found within this report was CPD and is something I would like to research into as a Science Specialist. What workshops and conferences are out there? A target for myself is to become a member of the Association for Science Education (ASE), so that I can secure further subject knowledge and be updated about current conferences and workshops that are taking place. I feel as though this will be important especially towards confidence when teaching Science.

Another factor I found interesting in this report is the idea of linking subjects. I believe this could bring time to focus on Science whilst also progressing in another subject. For example reading a book in literacy that involves Science themes. An example of this could be Jack and The Beanstalk, looking as the text in literacy which could then link into looking at plants and habitats within Science. Reports, analysis and writing skills could be developed whilst a variety of activities could take place. For example, growing bean plants in Science whilst reviewing and estimating the habitual factors from the story of Jack and the Beanstalk itself.

We also looked at the importance of linking Science with subjects such as Literacy in our specialism session. In this session we created poster of a book we could use . We also looked at different ideas of how we could link the two subjects. The book chosen included ‘Whatever Next’, in which either space or types of materials (metals for example) could be introduced within in Science. During English the book could be introduced in which role play, instructions and reports in association to their Science lessons could be offered. We were able to reflect from our peers posters and absorb different ideas and resources from this.

Poster that was created in specialism session:

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Next Steps:
  • Make a list of different books that could be linked with the Science curriculum.
  • Find other research on the importance and effects of enquiry in the classroom, does it work for all children? Does it allow progress for all children?
  • Look at ways to ensure assessment is effective in Science.

Full report summary on ‘Maintaining Curiosity’ found here.

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