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Concept cartoons to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in science

Published: Apr 22, 2015 3 min read

STEM learning

Faye Beecroft is from Camps Hill Community Primary School and is one of 50 teachers to win £1,000 for their school as a result of their entry in the Rolls-Royce Science Prize. In this article she outlines her entry for the prize and the effect it has had on her school.

I plan to implement the use of concept cartoons to hopefully raise the standards of teaching, alongside giving children practical hands on activities to practice the use of discussion and reasoning skills to embed science vocabulary.

By using concept cartoons to begin a science investigation, teachers will be able to see what the children currently understand about a particular topic and be able to plan future opportunities to secure their understanding or clarify any misconceptions before a topic is over. Using concept cartoons after children have taken part in a science investigation will show immediate feedback as to what the children now understand and can articulate.

The use of concept cartoons will benefit staff as it is a method of assessment for learning and can be used to inform future planning. By ensuring the cartoons are used before and after an investigation, the use of problem solving is embedded into every science unit/topic (supporting the school’s development plan). This will also allow staff to think about making science practical and hands on, enabling children to take ownership of their learning and investigations rather than just being told an answer.

Children benefit from undertaking regular investigations, which allows them to practice using their communication skills effectively through group discussion and reasoning. These discussions help secure their understanding of a topic as they articulate why/how something has happened or changed. The Concept Cartoons approach also supports our school development plan of children using adventurous vocabulary. In this case it is the use of scientific vocabulary correctly and in context.

The £1000 will benefit the quality of teaching around the school as the concept cartoons purchase will allow staff to focus on altering the resources to meet the needs of their children and topic, rather than making resources from scratch. This will give staff time to plan and use them to match individual needs such as SEN or pupil premium children.

Concept cartoons will also support the assessment of science as staff can see what children knew before and ultimately after practical investigations. Gaps can then be assessed and filled where appropriate or extended where necessary. The money will also help to buy quality resources to aid science investigations so children are able to have practical, hands on activities to support learning making for a more memorable experience.

The Rolls-Royce Science Prize is an annual awards programme that helps teachers implement science and mathematics teaching ideas in their schools and colleges. The awards programme is open to all schools and colleges in the UK.

The National STEM Centre also has free resources using Concept Cartoons.