At January’s annual ASE conference in Liverpool, Naomi Hennah and I hope to demonstrate how Cooperative Learning can further her vision for oracy skills in Science.
Naomi Hennah (@MrsHennah) is a Teacher of Science/Chemistry at Northampton School for Boys. I have previously written a dedicated article on her work.
Mrs Hennah says: The difficulties associated with the language of science has always been a matter of both interest and concern for me in my own teaching. I wanted to decouple literacy demands from scientific concepts and began using Socratic Questioning Technique with small intervention groups as a tool for unpicking misconceptions. The power of student talk and how to harness its potential is a matter of ongoing research including its application in laboratory work, as a tool for constructing knowledge and lessening cognitive demand.
Jakob says: Given the routine concerns from science and maths teachers that Cooperative Learning denotes imprecise “talking exercises” best suited to discussing poetry, this reflects precisely my own vision for Cooperative Learning in the subject of science. (Note that some of these concerns are addressed in the post Out of the Question from ASE’s London and Essex Summer conference Supporting Learning for all in Science).
Indeed, it seems there is a dire need for a different approach to science education. The special vocabulary, the mindset of enquiry and curiosity balanced against non-negotiable concepts and rigorous application of precise procedures, all combine to put Science into a field of its own.
Even the language of Maths is violently re-framed when applied to science. I am still hoping to give the revolational Language of Mathematics in Science presented by Richard Boohan & Roni Malek at that conference its (over-)due attention; and no opportunity seems better than in connection with this new presentation in Liverpool.
HINTS from Language of Mathematics in Science: This is some of the vocabulary you cannot count on transferring directly from Maths. (mathsinscience.uk)
If you have any doubts, just revisit Ben Roger’s 2015 survey of the reading habits of one hundred UK scientist. A central conclusions is that professional scientists and engineers had to teach themselves to read subject texts, at least until college.
Shockingly, only 10% of the professionals who responded to the survey were taught to read science texts at school. 84% said they taught themselves.
Oracy; the living counterpart to reading and writing
Mrs Hennah says: I am currently “studying” as an Oracy Leader with Voice21 and have been looking at talk for reading, talk for writing and my particular interest – social construction of learning and as a tool to rehearse vocabulary and lesson cognitive load.
What I had not appreciated was how much training kids need before they can talk and listen effectively!
To integrate this into classrooms “will require a shift in classroom culture from a more traditional, passive environment to that of active collaborative enquiry.” Our session will hopefully demonstrate how Cooperative Learning makes that shift easy to manage, for leadership, for teachers and for our learners.
Here, Jakob and I do not mean just drilling the definitions, vocabulary and procedures for the benefit of GCSEs. We want to facilitate transferable thinking and communication skills needed in the highly collaborative working environment of tomorrow’s Mendeleevs and Curries.
Delegates in our session will find themselves walking in the shoes of their students as they work together to unpick a PhD-level scientific text and experience the power of peer learning.
Our session will hopefully demonstrate how various Cooperative Learning Interaction Patterns will expedite all required aspects of the learning process, including traditional individual tasks such as reading and writing and achieve automatic differentiation, comprehension, language acquisition and contextualisation – with virtually no teacher intervention.
Because, with Cooperative Learning, talking is not an end in itself.
Comprehending Texts & Acquiring Language in Science
Thursday, January 4 • 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Limited Capacity seats available. Reserve here.
ASE Annual Conference 2018 at the University of Liverpool
Wednesday 3rd to Saturday 6th January 2018
The ASE Annual Conference, Europe’s Largest Science Education Conference, is a unique opportunity for all teachers of science.
The conference programme offers over 350 sessions, covering all phases and all levels from NQTs to Heads of Department. Common to every session is the focus on the resulting impact on students’ learning and achievement including:
- Updates from the exam boards
- Assessment guidance
- Curriculum development
- Practical science ideas
- Research into teaching practice
- Insight into cutting-edge science