In this episode of the amazing Progressively Incorrect podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jo Castelino, a secondary school science teacher based in West Yorkshire in the UK, and one of my absolute favorite bloggers about the art and science of great science teaching.
When I was training to be a teacher, science was described to me as the one subject that should never be taught explicitly. Sure, phonics and math facts should probably be taught directly, as long as it doesn’t kill students’ natural curiosity for learning, but science was seen as something different. In science, students should be allowed to inquire and discover new concepts, rather than having a teacher teach it to them. After all, discovery is what real scientists do; To think like a scientist is not to learn information, but to generate it. So, instead of showing students what the great scientists of the past were able to discover, science class should be focused on having students discover well-known facts for themselves through experiments and hands-on activities. I remember distinctly a rather silly lesson on science pedagogy during my Master’s when we were asked to bake cookies according to a recipe. Afterwards, we were to share our cookies with the class and marvel at how, even though we had all used the exact same ingredients, each batch of cookies varied slightly in appearance and taste from one another. It was supposed to be the “hook” that would get students thinking about DNA, but all I could think about, as an adult learner with much more self-control than the average child, was when are we going to eat these cookies and how are we going to scrounge up enough containers to get the leftovers home after the lesson.
There are only a handful of blogs that I read religiously, and one of these is Jo Castelino’s blog at drcastelino.wordpress.com. Rather than encouraging teachers to treat students like “miniature scientists”, Jo writes blogs about how to break down the trickiest science concepts into easily digestible chunks and how to embed retrieval practice and carefully structured routines into science lessons. Even if you’re like me and have never taught secondary science, her advice on how to use mini-whiteboards and scaffold hands-on activities, and how to get kids to do their homework are certain to have an impact on your teaching. So, without further ado, please enjoy this interview with Dr. Jo Castelino.
Dr. Jo’s homework articles: