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1006 Science - 15 June 2010

At the end of May, teachers were asked to complete a survey on how they taught science and what they would like to see happen in science teaching at Kaikohe East School.

What is happening now?

How confident are we in teaching science?  Of the seven teachers who replied, only one was not confident in teaching science. Most described themselves as being “happy” or “OK” with teaching science. Follow up questioning showed they enjoyed taking science topics but were not confident they were doing it well.

How do we teach science? Those teachers taught science through units of work, usually described as “short”. I presume this to mean a couple of weeks rather than a whole or half term unit. When further questioned, however, the teachers thought their approach often turned the units from pure science into technology, literacy or even art units.

What science have we taught so far this year? Three of the seven felt they had taken no science based units at all so far this year. There was a small range of topics covered by the teachers who listed science units taken including recycling, wasteland, autumn and weather. Most of these topics would be classified as “living world” or “nature”. Only one teacher had touched on the “physical world” strand (cells and circuits) and nobody had touched on “the material world” strand (chemistry) or “planet Earth and beyond” (Autumn can be seen as this strand but not with our teachers’ approach)

What have we got planned for the rest of the year? Apart from the garden, teachers did not have science topics planned for next term nor term 4. Most, however, anticipated that they would plan topics before the start of next term.

How good (or bad) are the school’s resources? Most commented on a need to have resources that matched the topics they were expected to cover but few had checked out the school’s resources and were unsure of what we already had. Three teachers went on-line to look for activities.

What would we like to see happen?

Lift the profile of science. There is a feeling that science has had to take a back seat to numeracy and literacy over the past few years. It was noted that even the science units accessed through TKI (the Ministry’s web site) are more English units with a science topic rather than science units with an English component. Most agreed that we need to raise science’s profile as a subject.

Decide what our children need to know. Our work on the new curriculum highlighted the need to identify our pupils’ needs and interests. During a survey, the pupils indicated they would like to conduct experiments and we have identified some likely topics. We now need to get together and sort out the what, when and how these could be covered. We also need to define a balanced, suitable programme. While our staff enjoys the freedom from not being tied to a too prescriptive scheme, the seven who replied to the survey indicated they might be happy to be told what to teach at this point in their progress.

Decide what good science teaching looks like. We can bring in facilitators from TEAM Solutions and get together with the Intermediate and Northland College to raise the staff’s awareness of investigative studies and the skills of teaching science. We’re not sure however that that expertise is still out there. I think that if we tried a unit each and reported back on how we went, it would be a start. You never know. We might already be quite good at it!

Be familiar with the resources we already have and decide what we need?  This ties in with the second point. What are we going to teach?

Science Budget Report to 31 May

Year to DateAnnual Budget   Difference from Budget % Variance
 $234 $500     $26647%