Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Thinking, Doing, Talking Science

CIEC has recently been involved in the latest trial of a flagship professional development programme in science teaching – Thinking, Doing, Talking Science (TDTS).  TDTS aims to support teachers to make science lessons in primary schools more practical, creative and challenging - with a focus on the development of higher order thinking skills. It does this by giving them lots of ideas for engaging practical lessons combined with strategies which provoke reasoning and creative thinking.

One of these strategies is called PMI (plus, minus, interesting).  Teachers suggest a scenario to children and then invite them to work in small groups to think of all of the positives that they can about the scenario.  They are then asked to think about all of the possible draw backs, or negatives, of the same scenario.  Finally, they are asked to think of any interesting questions or thoughts that the discussion have given rise to.

One possible PMI question is What if we lived in a world without gravity?  
(picture sourced from pixabay)           

Well, for one thing, there’d no longer be a market for helium filled balloons! PMI is such a successful strategy because there are no right or wrong answers and this gives children the confidence to contribute their thoughts and ideas.  However, the children will use, and reveal, a lot of their scientific understanding as they take part in the discussion.  As well as giving teachers a valuable assessment opportunity the discussion can help to move children’s thinking forward as they explore their ideas together.

TDTS has been developed by Science Oxford and Oxford Brooks University and initial trials have shown that it has the potential to increase children’s engagement with and attainment in science, especially for vulnerable groups of pupils.  The impact has not been so marked with the roll out stage of the trial.  Nevertheless, results are promising enough that the EEF are continuing to fund trials of this low-cost intervention as “the available evidence indicates that the programme can be implemented at scale through a train-the-trainers model, that it is valued by teachers exposed to the programme, and it changes their teaching practices in a manner consistent with the hypothesis.”  CIECs Nicky Waller will be continuing to work with the core team during this next stage of the pilot.

Teachers on one of the TDTS training days in Lincolnshire

Feedback from teachers has been very positive.  After attending the training with CIEC one of the teachers from a Lincolnshire school wrote

My head teacher thoroughly loves the new way of teaching science that I am doing since coming on the course, she loves the way the children have such high level thinking, the questions they asked and the previous lessons that they were drawing up on. So thank you for giving me knowledge and inspiring me to teach science in a completely different way!"

For more information on the TDTS project, go to

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