Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Autumnwatch – resource alert!

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I think i jinxed things when I said that it isn’t really Autumn yet… it certainly feels like it. Well, as you wrap yourself up in scarves, prepare your conkers for battle and await our next full Autumnwatch post, why not swing across to the Woodland Trust’s ‘Nature Detectives’ site: http://www.naturedetectives.org.uk/autumn/ Lots of free play activities, worksheets and field guides.

There’s not just Autumn-related stuff either, this is a great all-year round resource, with literally hundreds of resources. We’ll cherry-pick (or any other fruit of your choice) some of the most useful in a future post.

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The New Curriculum: Y3

Continuing our ventures into dissecting the new science curriculum, here is a detailed look at the changes to be implemented in Y3. This is where things get especially interesting, as Mr Gove et al have given the OK to schools discontinuing the 2000 curriculum in Y3 and 4 as of this month. Effectively, this gives the chance to ease into the new curriculum and maul it around a bit before it’s officially in place. At Primary Scientists, we will be doing just this, and will be recording our adventures in implementing the new curriculum, with accompanying lesson plans and resources.

In Y3,  there are areas which remain essentially unaltered, some which have seen some adjustment, and other units which have been completely added or removed.

Most of the additions are, more accurately, translocations. Interestingly, these areas (forces, sound) have both been moved up from their traditional KS1 homes; also interestingly, they are both Physics. A short rant before returning to impartiality: physics has already been quite poorly covered in many schools; why diminish it in importance further by delaying it so far into the curriculum? There’s also the issue, for the next couple of years at least, of Y3 pupils being “introduced” to concepts they have previously met in KS1.

Rocks and soils is now simply ‘Rocks’. Moving out soils is perhaps questionable, but does allow for some more in-depth and engaging Geological learning and experiments. Of course, such removals on paper don’t mean a wholesale embargo on these areas; indeed it would be hard to not make reference to soils as well, especially as a means of extending G & T pupils.

The Biology components are less drastically changed in Y3, although there is now a thematic focus on transport in both animals and plants.

As usual, we have prepared a detailed table of comparisons between the existing 2000 QCA units and the new curriculum,  available to download here: y3 science curriculum changes. Enjoy!

Back to School…

fruit_apple_apple-tree_wallpaper_apple_10Well, we’ve been taking a summer off, partly due to not having computers and partly due to travelling the world! Rest assured, we have been gathering material for future posts, and normal service is about to be resumed.

We’ll be continuing our detailed accounts of what the new curriculum means for teaching science. In fact, as the government has recommended that the old curriculum can be suspended for science as of now, we’ll be experimenting with planning and delivering elements of the new science curriculum and reporting back on our findings.

The approaching Autumn is a great time for exploring the outdoors and science opportunities, so another theme will be our very own version of ‘Autumnwatch’. We’ll give you ID tips, let you know what’s about of interest and provide some ideas for learning stimuli.

Keep checking back, new posts will start up again in the next few days… Don’t forget, if there’s something you’re especially interested in, feel free to send us a message or leave a comment.

THE DRAFT CURRICULUM: WHAT’S IN & WHAT’S OUT?

It can take a while to get your ahead around what the changes to the science curriculum actually involve. There are undeniably some seismic shifts to the ways we have become accustomed to teaching and learning Primary Science. Whole topics, traditional favourites such as sound, forces and changing materials, have either been shifted several year groups, or been removed entirely. Other units, such as ‘Evolution and Inheritance’, and the study of Scientists’ biographies, are totally new.

In other ways, there is much that remains familiar. One might postulate that certain key objectives have been rewritten, or units renamed, purely to distance the new curriculum from the old, as their content remains virtually unchanged. Other units offer slight shifts in focus or small adjustments to content. What there is consistently across the units, however, is greater emphasis on subject knowledge. ‘Name and identify…’ is a phrase that crops up many times throughout the key stages.

The main changes you need to know about across the whole curriculum are about the rebranding of strands. The former Sci1, based on science skills, is now rebranded as the concept of “Working Scientifically”. as before, this is meant to underpin the entire science curriculum, but there is perhaps a special focus on the use of science talk, as well as experiments and investigations. Sci 2, 3 and 4 modules are now incorporated under the simpler Biology, Chemistry and Physics headings.

At a more specific level, changes are numerous. To help make things a bit more digestible, we are preparing some grids to show comparisons between the 2000 curriculum QCA schemes of work and the draft curriculum objectives. These will provide a year-by-year summary of what’s in, what’s out and what has changed slightly.

How to use this resource…

Each grid is for one year group, and has 4 columns. The first column shows the outgoing QCA units for that year, and the key learning points. The next column, in bold, is the objectives for the draft curriculum. These are linked, as closely as possible, to the QCA units they match best. Columns 3 and 4 offer annotations for what has been added and removed, respectively.

I hope that’s clear enough; we’re open to suggestions on how to present this information, so if you think it could be made clearer, please do leave a comment. The grids will be posted one at a time over the next few days, followed by some summaries for each key stage. To kick things off, here is a summary of the Y1 Science changes. Y2 and KS1 summary to follow tomorrow!

PRIMARY SCIENTISTS?

“Scientist”… a word weighed down by connotations of lab coats, goggles, Albert Einstein and Doc from ‘Back to the Future’. But let’s have a look at what it actually means. Over to you, Google…

sci·en·tist

/ˈsīəntist/

Noun

A person who is studying or has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences

We always focus on that middle part, the expert knowledge. That’s just one part of being a scientist. Let’s skip that bit, and see how the definition reads now:

sci·en·tist

/ˈsīəntist/

A person who is studying of one or more of the natural or physical sciences.

Think of it that way, and all school children are, if given the opportunity, scientists. By extension, any adult who shares in their learning and questioning of the primary curriculum with them is a scientist as well.  Chances are, if you’re reading this, that’s you.

Investigating magnets, looking at different kinds of animal, pond dipping, comparing rocks;  if you’re looking at it and questioning it – ‘working scientifically’, in the words of the new curriculum – you are a scientist.

“Whoa there!” we hear you say. “So maybe I don’t have to be an expert to be a scientist, but as a primary teacher, I’m expected to be an expert on EVERYTHING!”

Well, yes, quite. The new draft curriculum is incredibly heavy on subject knowledge. Year 1 children identifying Willow and Horse Chestnut trees. Year 3 children picking out sedimentary from igneous rocks. Year 4s giving examples of speciation. There’s a heck of a lot of knowledge for kids (and teachers) to get their heads around. Recently, I attended a course run by a former headteacher and lead Ofsted inspector. She said that “subject knowledge is one of the biggest obstacles to outstanding science lessons”.

Despite all this, we really do feel that if you have the inspiration and the curiosity, there are plenty of opportunities to pick up the subject knowledge. And that’s where the Primary Scientists blog comes in. Already, on the internet, this subject knowledge is floating around, waiting to be snapped up; there are so many great resources out there from specialist organisations. Often though, you need to do a bit of digging for them, and frequently these resources aren’t accompanied by any really creative ideas to aid their use. At Primary Scientists, we aim to make it all a bit more digestible and inspiring. We want to highlight what is useful and engaging. We will compile some of the best resources, and share our own ideas and experiences of actually using them in the classroom. We’ll add our own humble voices to the reams of subject knowledge, along with our own stories, thoughts, resources and photos. Anything on this site will be free to use. All we ask is that you share us with your friends and colleagues, and maybe give us the odd re-tweet.

Speaking personally, we are scientists with degrees and conservation experience. As primary teachers, we are scientists too. Our aim is to blend both of these aspects to bring subject knowledge and curiosity to your classroom via useful ideas, resources, lesson plans and tidbits of information. Most of all, we want to pass on our excitement for the sciences and sharing them with children.

Us. You. The children we all teach. Together, we are Primary Scientists.

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