Log in


  • Public
Started by Helen Moore 31 May 2017 2:58pm () Replies (8)

Hi, I am new to VLN and am looking for some help/advice about improving science in my school. While not discouraged, science is not also not actively encouraged and my research shows two main reasons - teachers are not confident in their scientific ability and there has been no PLD in science for a number of years (if at all). We have 3 digital classrooms with more coming online. We are a small low decile school in rural Northland so money is tight but I am looking for some strategies I could use to engage the teachers and use the wider science community to help with this. Any suggestions gratefully received.


  • Joy Kitt (View all users posts) 31 May 2017 8:34pm ()

    Well done you for wanting to teach science. Your first port of call should be TKI and the science curriculum area. Focus on the overarching strand which is the Nature of science. This will guide you through the skills, strategies and attitudes of thinking and working like a scientist. The other strands will give you a context to practise these skills. The science capabilities (again, look for them on TKI) are the 'how' of the Nature of Science. How to investigate, how to collect and critique data, how to make observations, how to communicate your understanding. NZCER has recently published an awesome book called "Constructing your primary school science curriculum". It is a brilliant, up to date 'guide' to putting the curriculum to work. Try and get hold of it from NZCER's website - it is an easy read but very practical. Within this blended elearning area of the VLN is my blog "the Joy of Science". I put it together to enable teachers to start some science conversations. Have a look and see if it has anything to help you get started. Also, start a science table in your classroom! It can be an actual table or just a tray. Find some interesting things for the kids to look at. Buy some magnifiers from the two dollar shop and see what happens. Collect a box of interesting things like nuts and seeds, shells, moss, stones, unusual nuts and bolts, weird things you find in the junk drawer, old things like film. Then have the kids sort them eg. Natural and manmade, round and not round.....that one starts a lot of arguments! Get them talking to each other, justifying their opinions and thinking with evidence. Be brave, have a go, do not be afraid to reveal yourself as a learner. Science is all about not knowing something and finding a way to discover the answers to your questions. Good luck


  • Helen Moore (View all users posts) 05 Jun 2017 5:01pm ()

    Thank you for that Joy, I will get hold of the NZCER curriculum book. I nearly ordered in online the site didn't seem secure enough for me to hand over my credit card details, will get the school to order it. Do you have an opinion on whether having regular staffroom science experiences would get teacher confidence and interest up?

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 09 Jun 2017 9:57am ()

    Thanks for your input Joy, I must admit I do miss your posts, always inspiring. Joy's right, starting with the curriculum and the support documents would be useful Helen - and can I say welcome to the VLN!

    Having a strategic overview of what you're trying to achieve for your learners would help to guide the professional learning for teachers. In Science online (TKI), you'll find some key concepts (Nature of science), ideas and rich resources including NZ's own Science Learning Hub.

    Here's three great stories of science PLD from the recent PLD providers - Te Toi Tupu.

    1. http://www.tetoitupu.org/science-primary-schools-developing-teacher-confidence-and-capability
    2. http://www.tetoitupu.org/importance-scientific-thinking
    3. http://www.tetoitupu.org/nurturing-scientifically-literate-citizens

    For example, in story #2 Importance of Scientific thinking we read,

    Through a series of staff meetings and workshops, and using the Nature of Science as the lever, Anne Barker encouraged the teachers to develop and use their skills of observation, beyond inferencing. Resources like Science TalkThinking and talking like scientists and Science Capabilities for Citizenship help develop probing questioning skills. Teachers have been encouraged to use simple language like, "I see...therefore I think... and...I wonder if that happened because..." Further questioning techniques help to tease out more details by asking, where's the evidence? Anne says this is an important process because, "The older we get, the more inferences we make, to make sense of our world." 

    I'm sure Anne Barker (science facilitator) would love to talk to you some more about this as well. Let us know how you get on?

    Tess smiley

  • Helen Moore (View all users posts) 10 Jun 2017 3:41pm ()

    Another thing I am starting to wonder about is would it be feasible to focus on one of the capabilities for a term (or year preferably) instead of one of the strands. For example, our school curriculum "does" science as inquiry in Term 2 focussing on a different strand each year (but not the NoS strand) so student get to do each strand twice in 8 years. How about if we focussed instead on one of the capabilities and used that across all of the strands in a year. This would mean the students would get greater exposure to all the strands as well as the NoS. Or would that be too ambitious?

  • Joy Kitt (View all users posts) 10 Jun 2017 9:28pm ()

    It is hard to separate the capabilities as each has a role to play as you progress through a unit / investigation. However it is a good idea to identify ipone that you want to focus on. Gathering data /observation is a great place to start. Observation is the key to all the rest. Learning to take a long look, looking over time, describing, - all need practise. There is a loittle routine called 'See, Think, Wonder'. This allows you to work with the kids on a single item or in groups with one each. See - observe, describe, research. THINK - infer from what you see, Wonder - questions to follow up, investigate. Can be done with 5 year olds or 15 year olds. Can be done in an hour or over a week. 

    The Science Learning Hub has some great activities to start you off. All you need are some magnifying glasses and some interesting things to look at.


  • Ally (View all users posts) 26 Jun 2017 1:14pm ()

    Hi Helen

    I agree with Joy completely that it is hard to separate out the different capabilities. However, I do think it would be really good to focus your science inquiries on capabilities rather than contextual strands. When the science capabilities were developed the dream was that they would help teachers refocus their teaching of science. Many of the teachers I have worked with have found foregrounding a particular capability initially is great for building their own understanding of that capability. Really happy to talk more about this - and I am quite often in Northland if you want to talk face to face. The "I see, I think, I wonder" strategy Joy mentions is a great starting place - and the recent Connected journals focus on the various capabilities.

  • Helen Moore (View all users posts) 02 Jul 2017 3:43pm ()

    Hi Ally, thank you for your suggestions - it would be great to talk to you. When will you be next in Northland?

Join this group to contribute to discussions.