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Reflection on and analysis of the CDA investigation

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The purpose of education is to ensure young people are equipped with the necessary tools and skills to be able to grasp opportunities to lead productive and meaningful lives. Therefore all young people should be encouraged and equipped to be involved, critically, with ‘science in news’, then teachers must take steps to secure, for every student, a methodical and progressive plan of learning experiences through which this might be achieved. This will be guaranteed only if a study of ‘science in the news’ is included in a school’s schemes of work. A decision must be made as to whether the science department is going to work indecently or with teachers in other relevant curricular areas to widen a better understanding of how to implement science in the real life.

Our students get much of the information about science issues that impact on our lives from media reports. These reports, whether they are in newspapers or on the internet, often misrepresent some information about the science behind the issue and comment on the social impact of the science.

The use of news or media reports allows students to study scientific issues with a view to seeing the nature and source of the scientific evidence and weighing suggestions alongside value finding.

During the series of lessons, students could tackle learning outcomes: to extricate scientific evidence from value judgements; to understand news and media reports of science, (Mood,2002).

Discussion of overall findings and the conclusion in relation to the initial goals of the investigation.

I decided to conduct a questionnaire on the usage of newspapers in my year 7 and year 10 classes. I was impressed by the level of newspaper readership among the students, but I also observed that a vast number of the students were not regular newspaper readers. There are many reasons about why young people do not read newspapers (see appendix 1-4). (Smith?) interviewed 1000 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17. It was found that approximately 30 percent said that they pay almost no attention to every day news. Another 32 percent said they pay only casual attention to one news source a day and the remaining paid no attention at all. Furthermore, even the internet, the chosen method for teenagers to get news, is not stimulating an interest in science. However it was found that entertaining stories about celebrities interest young people more than concepts about Giant’s Causeway’s long history, Martian sedimentary rocks or how Wyoming rocks could unlock the Earth’s warming cycle.

In the classes I have observed young readers often struggle to find the relevancy of the task and this results the motivation to complete it.

Often this is attributed to difficulties in associating the nature of the educational reading tasks with the nature of the scientific text being read. I understand that tex ts in English and Science are vastly different. As a science teacher, I am focused on helping pupils to get through the language of the text which is relevant to the topic being taught. For example, topics like rocks proved to be very dry and boring for the pupils. This was compounded by the fact that the school had very little equipment to illustrate the concept of the topic.

In the conversation on the nature of reading in science, I have tried to propose some starting points for providing support and guidance to our pupils. I planned that a first step is to focus on the content and structure of texts used in science, rather than on features like terminology. Recent evidence suggests that, pupils have an advantage in reading narrative, namely possession of the story framework, but lack the counterparts of this structure when they come to read science news or texts. An extra challenge of reading in science is that pupils must deal with a wider range of different text types. According to research by (Davies (,1984) there are three kinds of reading response: receptive, reflective and rejective. It has been asserted that the opportunities for reading receptively are rare in science. Teachers will themselves contemplate whether or where there is a place for provision of material which will give rise to receptive reading. A major focus is to indicate ways in which the reflective reading required for most science texts will be rewarding.

The objective of analysis-reading activities is to focus attention on one or more information constituents of a text throughout a single reading session. The teacher analyses the text before including in a lesson to decide what information constituents are to be the focus of attention; for example, ‘features’ or ‘properties’ of a phenomenon; ‘stages’ in a process; ‘evidence’ of one kind or another. The success of the task is reliant on the teacher’s previous analysis of the text – on my finding what is imperative about it.

Teachers are obliged to help the students to understand and give clear instructions to the students to enable them to work independently to analyse the text, gain practice in focusing on one specific piece of information at a time.

I observed that National newspapers often cover heavily debated issues in science. These can be a good source for discussion and can be used to classify the scientific terms in the article, find out their represented opinion and – investigate the practical evidence that is being used.

In addition the articles used in the lesson can also be adapted as DARTS (Directed Activities Related to Text) since they require pupils to go to the texts with a precise purpose, and have much in common with good learning techniques. This can be used for note making when extracting information from texts and for revision purposes. I asked the pupils to highlight the scientific terms and explain in their own words what they mean. Pupils were asked to answer the specific questions linked to the article.

Analysis of the significant issues that arose whilst teaching the unit.

A key problem with this kind of application is that girls felt less self-assured, for many reasons, than boys in science, even when their abilities showed that they did not need much assurance. They placed significant emphasis on understanding rather than on rote learning, although some ended up doing the latter if they found that it was a useful tool to understand. Girls admitted that the teacher helped to make the science lessons more pleasurable by being helpful and explaining things, when they were in difficulty with a section of work. In almost all cases it was the theoretical explanation that appeared to cause the most difficulties.

Often girls were unenthusiastic, as they were in many other aspects in science work, to volunteer themselves in case they gave the wrong answer, mainly in front of boys in their peer group whom they often observed as being clever in science. (Smith ? ) reports that girls often feel overshadowed by boys in classes where boys have a natural flair for the science subject.

‘I would try to have more all-girls classes than mixed because you tend to feel overshadowed in a class, especially by boys who tend to have a better flair for the subjects. This makes you feel uncomfortable or senseless about asking for something or saying that you do not understand. ’

The question of the effect of boys in the class arose was also looked into

‘Clever boys make us feel thoughtless. ’ (Smith ?) also reported that Gifted boys made girls feel insecure in the class during learning challenging concepts. In addition the girls’ lack of confidence in their abilities quickly became demotivating whenever there was any hint of disorderliness in the class which almost always was caused by boys.

Moreover, there are issues for trainee teachers to address when they discuss cross- curricular teaching and learning. Parkinson’s research (2004) disturbed, if teacher want pupils to looked into condensing the science topic to be learned across more than one subject, the teacher needed to be enthusiastic and passionate for the pupils to see that during the lesson. This passion and interest exist on many levels, including – enthusiasm for a subject and the desire to try something new. Interest is contagious, and once pupils have seen the success and satisfaction that comes from teaching and learning in this way, they will start to consider the approach themselves. Science is often considered to be difficult, boring and irrelevant (Sang, 2002). Teaching it with other subjects, such as English would help pupils improve their literacy skills.

2.4 An analysis of the outcomes of investigation against the original aims, including impact on pupils’ learning and progress.

Students’ ideas about science in general often reflect a mixture of social, cultural and school- based knowledge. In school, an ‘experiment’ designates all practical activity, however complex and whether the outcome is known beforehand. Topics that receive media attention, such as child health and climate change, are perceived to be scientific by pupils

Teachers encourage development of children’s thinking along following paths: science often involves thinking about theories that can be tested by experiments that will produce evidence; a good hypothesis can be proven true or false by an experiment; and evidence obtained by an experiment must be understood and discussed in the class

During my investigation of the newspaper Giant Causeway article, girls often asked for individual help than boys. This showed me that occasionally even the teachers replied by being a little too rigid and not making sufficient demands on the girls. In my case girls regularly asked for personal attention in class. From my understanding, they believed the class to be too large, which meant they obtained personal attention during lesson time. I noticed that boys are not afraid to admit that they don’t understand the question. Clearly, this shows that girls are often hesitant about disclosing their difficultie s.

According to my results of using science in the news feedback forms, I found out that girls found newspaper articles very useful. 23 pupils out of 33 reported that they found the newspaper articles educational and interesting. Most (22 out of 33) of the students agree that news articles can be used to support learning at school. In addition, 23 out 33 agreed that the science in the news was an excellent context for developing literacy. 17 out of 33 suggested to improve the question structure from easiest to hardest questions. Boys clarified to improve the science lessons by using some more different and interesting topics in the news. (Appendix 8/9)

I found that girls had a more positive attitude towards not only science but also interested in scientific stories. This was exemplified in the lesson with newspaper articles about different types of rocks, when the attention of the girls was caught more rapidly than the attention of boys. I have observed that girls can develop their own opinions when answering the questions from the articles.

Conclusion

From my investigation I can conclude that pupils’ low literacy skills have contributed to the under- performance across different subjects in school. All teachers have an important role to play to aid pupils to access the various concepts and ideas taught in classes.

In order to improve this the point of focus should be a school-wide one so that

pupils’ literacy could be developed. In key stage 3 there should be an opportunity for all teachers to enhance pupils’ learning, whatever their subject specialism. The crucial key aims that need to be considered for Science and English to complement each other and to be of benefit of the pupils.

Suggested aims:

  • To build closer bridges between the science and English departments in order to improve the literacy knowledge and understanding that pupils could be expected to bring to lessons.
  • To develop reading strategies that engage students with the text and increase their ability to read.
  • To create a universal model for writing using key type text within science
  • To expand pupils’ subjects specific vocabulary by paying attention to technical language learning in science

Personally, by integrating science lessons with specific relevant articles, I have established dynamic and energetic resources that highlight the importance of cross-curricular teaching as a technique through which inspiration is stimulated in both pupil and teacher. It is through inventive cross-curricular teaching that pupils can begin to progress the crucial skills needed to cope with the rapidly changing world and in the case of this project, better recognise scientific topics through the questioning of evidence.

Additionally, delivering science concepts through cross-curricular newspaper articles open up opportunities for pupils to engage in not only creativity but also independent learning and understanding. These two skills are crucial in producing learners with skills that can be applied in productive and successful environments. Ultimately all this will lead to pupil making progress in science lessons.

The evidence presented in this investigation thus far supports the above discussed ideas that the mixture of social media news and science has proved to be a powerful tool. This leads to pupils becoming familiar with techniques and processes crucial to the study of science topics.

Consideration of the implication of the CDA investigation for future professional development and practice.

During my investigation, it was demonstrated that news in science not only offers engaging lessons but also helps students to appreciate what scientists can do.

Furthermore, exploring science in the news improved my teaching practice. By enabling students to give opinions with science in the news, I am equipping them for lifelong learning in a media saturated world.

If I was to deliver my CDA again I would use online international news outlets’ archive stories. There are now web sites, for example Google News, and press agency sites, that flag up science and science-related news stories and, importantly, some which are designed particularly for science teachers. I created most of the worksheets by myself and I feel I have integrated creativity in my lessons. Moreover, this study could also be extended in the future by applying the different tactics and writing skills to other subjects in the curriculum. My long-term aims are to help pupils to obtain the specific frames – the information structures – required for constructing and writing texts in science. From this point forward in my professional career as a teacher, I am planning to use ‘science in news’ to develop topics, predominantly related to ongoing world issues such cancer, global warming, health and lifestyle.

I believe that cross-curricular teaching and learning is a strategy which calls for teachers to develop dissimilar teaching skills, work with colleagues from different departments and begin to use their thoughts creatively when planning lessons. As this case demonstrates, it is important to bring different branches of learning under one umbrella, while keeping the pupils from feeling lost or uncomfortable. Improved emphasis is given to the field of learning while taking maximum benefit from diverse subject disciplines. With the exclusion of isolated, separate, subject teaching, pupils can begin to enjoy and come up with fresh ideas themselves. The curriculum is therefore enriched and the confidence of pupils’ in both their reading and writing is increased.

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