16.11.2022 17:30 - 18:30

Webinar "Science through Stories"

Teachers have always used stories (or storytelling or picture books) to put science into context for small children. Stories are a great resource for teaching as our brains are ‘hard-wired’ to learn through stories. However, high-quality texts to use with children that are written by science specialists are few and far between.

Jules Pottle will lead us through some of the latest thinking on the use of stories to engage children and enhance science learning in primary schools using her award-winning 2019 book “The Molliebird” dealing with evolution and “Jasper the Spider” published in 2021 dealing with the life history of the spider, as well as giving us some insights into the latest books she is writing.

This will be a really useful webinar for all primary teachers who are seeking to engage their children with scientific ideas.

In 2019, Jules and Rufus wrote and illustrated the award-winning picture book, ‘The Molliebird’. It has high level language for its Year 6 audience and demonstrates how natural selection acts as the mechanism of evolution.

The words do not tell the entire story, however. The pictures fill the gaps in the storyline and require the children to work out what is happening. This in turn generates a lot of dialogic talk in the classroom and the teachers can then hear where the misconceptions lie. It was trialled in schools across the country to see if it was effective as a tool for teaching natural selection and it gave some promising data. (You can see more about this text on the PSTT website.)

In 2021, the same team wrote ‘Jasper the Spider’ for Years 2 and 4, building on the idea of teaching a scientific concept through a fictional story. The science topic addressed is classification and the fact that spiders are not insects – thus tackling a common misconception.

The book tells the emotional story of a lonely spider who wants to find friends. He joins an ant colony, but the wise old queen ant spots the differences in his body parts and he is evicted.

Again, some of the stories are told in the pictures so that the children can discuss their interpretation of what is happening, and their dialogic talk reveals any misconceptions to the teacher. Jules will introduce these books and the rationale behind using stories to teach science. There will also be some sneaky peeks at the titles currently under production and an update on what has been learned from using these stories in the classroom.

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