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Tips for secondary science teacher teaching year 6

Discussion in 'Primary' started by sl1605, Jul 22, 2016.

  1. sl1605

    sl1605 New commenter

    Hello all! I am a secondary science teacher with 10 year's experience who next year will be teaching year 6 science. This is because out school goes from 6 months to 16 and three years ago, the relevant teachers got together and decided that it would be good for the year 6s to take advantage of a lab, science equipment and a specialist. I am really excited about it - I am teaching only two units - Electricity and light - and I was wondering if anyone had any tips for how a year 6 class would be different to a year 7 class. Would you say that there is a lot less content or is it about the same? What about the students' abilities to form theories, draw conclusions and make links - is there a big difference between year 6 and 7?

    How about the culture and tacit information that goes with teaching year 6s? I have seen their books and they write a lot. I also have 2 parents' evenings a year. how is the assessment and feedback different?

    Is there any skill or concept that should be stressed in year 6 to help them with secondary school, either in science or in general?

    Is there anything else that I haven't thought of?

    Many thanks for your help, and happy summer!
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    It is more or less the same. My school goes from 5-13 and the difference between year 6 and year 7 is negligible. Think about the difference between year 7 and 8 and do the same backwards.

    You need to be careful though...you'll love it so much, you'll end up wanting to teach year 3 soon! My year 3s are the youngest to go to the lab and it is pretty much the most exciting thing about moving from year 2 to year 3. Once you start the journey down to KS2, there will be no stopping you. (Or maybe that's just me and what I did a fair few years ago now and wouldn't go back to all secondary for all the tea in China!)
    sl1605 likes this.
  3. princess77

    princess77 New commenter

    The best piece of advice for KS2 science I have been given is to focus on one element when doing investigative lesson. So you could focus on coming up with a question for a lesson and then make a prediction. Another lesson you could focus on different ways of recording results / data. Focusing on one element means children develop that particular skill well.
    sl1605 likes this.
  4. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    my head (who is an Ofsted inspector) gave me some very strong advice when I moved from Secondary to primary and was made Science manger for 2 years. He has seen many Primary lessons where the teacher has gone to far to high a level, so watch for that. But as a Science specialist I can't see you doing that to be fair.
    One thing Primary children are far better at doing than older children and adults, is improvising. So if you have an investigation for them to do, be prepared for them to come up with some really way out ideas and strange uses for very simple (non scientific) equipment. But oddly enough, their odd ideas always seem to work out!
    Do think cross curricular, for instance:
    With electricity, many or most Y6 do something in their tech lessons involving building something such as a fairground ride or electric vehicle. I have found the more able link the science and tech very well given the chance. One of my classes also put together a great display using their Space models and electricity circuits.
    sl1605 likes this.
  5. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    re light.
    we made very effective pin hole cameras from Pringle tubes which was a very efficient way of getting them to work out why the image was upside down.
    again let the improvise. A bit of black sugar paper, chalk and a narrow beam light and they will create amazing display work to explain the angles with little help from you.
    They are so much more independent than many older secondary pupils
    sl1605 likes this.
  6. cellerdore

    cellerdore Occasional commenter

    I second what a few others have said on here about teaching skill based lessons rather than content driven and go using on one particular skill at a time. I.e writing a method, drawing graphs, er...er conclusions etc.

    The cross curricular link is great- instead of just writing explanations they can do recorded news reports, written newspaper articles (great for "catch the killer" chromatography lessons) or poems. As long as they include the relevant scientific information then asking them to present it in a new/novel way, or better yet giving them a choice of options, can be a great way to reengage children who have, sadly, already formed the opinion that science is too hard or not important.

    As a science grad myself, I can sometimes go into a bit too much detail but I would definitely recommend spending a lesson on simple atomic structure before electricity or depending on your sequence of topics, including this lesson in one of the other topics. Then you can talk about electricity as being the movement of elections and from past experience 80-90% will get it. Also, I like to include a lesson at the end of electricity on building electromagnets to get them thinking about electromagnetism. I must admit though, this is mainly because I was so annoyed going through school and being periodically told "you know that thing we have been telling you is true for ever, well, it's a lie." I.e valence electrons, how many states of matter etc etc

    That being said, at my current school the children have 3hrs a week dedicated science so by the time I get them in year six they are more advanced than at other schools I have worked in. At my previous one they didn't even know the basics of the particle model so I had to real in my lessons a bit. Here is an example of the light planning I use for year 6- it might give you a few ideas but I'm sure you have your own! https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/year-6-science-medium-term-planning-light-11128902

    Year 6 is a great year group, sure you're gonna love it :)
  7. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    3 hours is more than most Primary schools make time for science, especially with the huge pressure on GPAS, English, Maths in Year 6, and pretty much all year groups at the moment.
    I would repeat the point that my head (who is also an Ofsted inspector) made about not over complicating things in Primary. He has a science/Maths background and inspects Science so might be worth listening to.
    sl1605 likes this.
  8. cellerdore

    cellerdore Occasional commenter

    I get what you're saying about too much detail hammie... I'm in an indie in Asia hammie so it's a bit different than the uk. Must say, it's so refreshing not having to worry about maths and English so much- means we can use the curriculum time for so many things rather than focus groups and supplementary lessons in run up to sats. I understand the pressures in the uk and it's a shame, especially in science, as you would be amazed how much of a better base children have when science is actually treated as a core subject rather than a "fun" lesson squeezed between the "more important" English and maths. I know that will not change the damn league tables but hey ho.
    sl1605 likes this.
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Definitely keep in mind the 'not too much detail', but at the same time the class should benefit from your expertise and advanced knowledge.
    sl1605 likes this.
  10. Rivermill

    Rivermill Occasional commenter

    I would say there shouldn't be much difference at all in terms of what you can expect from the children. Just be sure to include more basic tasks so your lowers can show their understanding. Do also check the lower KS2 curriculum as basic electricity is covered quite early on.
    sl1605 likes this.
  11. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    You'll love it ! - honestly.

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