Saturday, 20 October 2007

Rushcliffe Science

Teachers from a whole development group of schools from the Rushcliffe area of South Nottingham gathered on Friday 19 October ( one day before the half term break)at the Jubilee Campus of the University of Nottingham for a Science Learning Centre day organised by the team at Leicester University SLC.

They were fed ( non-literally) on a high diet of exciting science activities from a wonderful Keynote concerning communication in science given by Rosemary Feasey through 'How to make fizzy chocolate' with George Foster to the exciting work of engaging early years pupils in ICT explorations with Tricia Neal ... these and many more.

My own contribution to the day was a workshop called Creative Interactive Whiteboards

The blurb said:' This session will look at how to get the very best use out of an Interactive Whiteboard to support the teaching and learning of science throughout the primary phase in a creative and exciting way focusing on many activities involved in data handling. There will also be an opportunity to try out some of the ideas.' and I did my best to deliver. You can read some of the comment here. This was the first time any of the teacher participants in the workshop had been asked to make their comments about the session in a blog. The blog is quick and simple to set up and continued the electronic 'theme' of the workshop. I have used the idea a number of times now but find it difficult to get people to reflect on the session and to suggest pathways forward from it for themselves and their colleagues.

One of the key points of my session was to discuss the difference between the use software tools on an Interactive Whiteboard and using prebuilt content. We began by looking at the subject of the 'Earth in Space' and looked at content from Learning Connections to support the understanding of day and night and the the orbit of the Moon around the Earth. The discussion here extended into using models to explain scientific ideas.

This was followed by me building an 'Earth/Moon' model using Textease Studio CT. The model produced was 'not quite right' see here (if you have a copy of the software loaded ... if not you can download a 30 day copy from here)In discussion the facts about: the earth not spinning, the distances being wrong, the orbit being too elliptical and the moon going the wrong way came out. This was seen as having potential as a validatory exercise in terms of confirming/questioning understanding.

The group were then given the task of developing a model which was more accurate. An example can be found here.

The teachers were interested in the ability to record sounds onto objects created on screen (this is possible both on Smart and using Textease) and the potential this afforded for the verbal recording of experiments and how this tied in with the first three strands of the New Framework for Literacy, those concerned with speaking and listening.

Also of interest, within a science context, was how digital images and videos can be quickly and easily transferred to screen for instant feedback. Course participants were shown the use of USB card readers for quick transfer.

In preparation for the course explained how I had created a blog which has links in it to some really excellent sites for use in primary science and showed how to access and use it. This was to create the idea that electronic preparation in this way could be a good idea with curriculum leaders sifting materials to assist their colleagues to match resources to curriculum delivery. If the course had been longer the building of such blogs would have been the next stage.

The course participants accessed the 'linkscience' blog and explored the sites. I also gave the URLs of the other blogs created for similar purpose ... 'Earth in Space', 'Term One' and 'Physical Processes'. Access to these promoted a discussion on using the idea to create 'home-school' links and extending learning beyond the classroom.

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