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Introducing Connected a print + digital resource

Issue: Volume 93, Number 3

Posted: 05:08pm, 24 Feb 2014
Reference #: 1H9cto

How can we motivate, excite, and engage students in science learning? Connected is a resource designed to support teachers and students to develop science concepts. Now a print + digital resource, Connected offers a fresh approach to incorporate the Nature of Science strand of the curriculum and the science capabilities into science teaching and learning.

3 Connected books

Connected has been provided to all primary schools since 2002. The big news is that, from November 2013, Connected has become a print + digital resource. Through Google Slides, teachers and students now have access to this resource in a digital format. In the Connected digital format, there is additional content that provides opportunities for engaging students in science learning.

The three issues that make up Connected 2013 have a strong focus on the Nature of Science, the overarching strand that brings together all the contextual strands of the science curriculum and the first of the five science capabilities – Gather and interpret data.

Print + digital

Previously, Connected consisted of printed books for students, with PDFs of teacher support material (TSM) available on Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI). Printed issues of Connected and PDFs of the TSM are still provided, but teachers and students now also have access to:

  • digital versions of the articles from each issue on Google Slides
  • digital content that extends the lead article in each issue
  • PDF versions of each article
  • Word versions of the TSM, which teachers can adapt to meet the context for learning and the learning needs of their students
  • Word versions of each article, to allow students (and teachers) to use the text for multiple purposes
  • easily manipulated files of photographs, illustrations, maps, graphs, and other graphic elements available for download and reuse under Creative Commons.

From 2013, the text, images, and other graphic elements in Connected are able to be copied, distributed, displayed, manipulated, and revised by teachers and students for their own work. The fonts used in Connected 2013 are all in the public domain so there are no restrictions on using them either.

This opens up a world of possibilities for teaching and learning that did not previously exist. Now teachers and students can download and manipulate text and images from Connected into their work.

The copyright mechanism that allows this flexibility does still have some conditions. Please see below for a link to the Creative Commons New Zealand site, where you can get more information.

The Nature of Science

Recent research undertaken by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) for the Ministry of Education indicates that teachers tend to focus on the contextual strands of the science curriculum (the Living World, Planet Earth and Beyond, the Physical World, and the Material World) rather than the overarching strand that brings them all together, the Nature of Science.

This series, together with recently released curriculum resources on the Nature of Science, will help students to understand what science is and how scientists work. A key driver is supporting students to become “critical, informed, and responsible citizens in a society in which science plays a significant role” (p. 17, The New Zealand Curriculum). This means they need to appreciate the kind of knowledge that science produces and how it is developed. Learning how science works and applying it to daily life and decision making is the focus of the Nature of Science strand.

To support the teaching and learning of the Nature of Science in primary schools, NZCER has ‘unpacked’ the strand and identified five of the basic capabilities students need to develop with regard to the science learning area. The article “Exploring the Nature of Science” (25 November 2013 issue of Education Gazette) introduced these capabilities as:

  • Gather and interpret data
  • Use evidence
  • Critique evidence
  • Interpret representations
  • Engage with science.

The three issues making up Connected 2013 focus on developing the first capability, Gather and interpret data.

More about the science capabilities can be found on the Ministry of Education’s Science Online teacher support website. The research can be found on NZCER’s website or you can follow the link from Science Online

Extra digital content

Icons are used on the Connected contents pages to identify the articles with TSM and additional digital content. TSM provides background information for teachers, curriculum links, and ideas for classroom discussion and activities.

Extra digital content for the three lead articles include:

  • collections of additional photographs for teachers and students to use
  • audio
  • video and/or animations
  • embedded links to a wide variety of useful websites and website content.

Teacher support

The TSM is provided as a downloadable PDF and as a writable Word document to allow teachers to adapt the activities for their teaching and learning context.

Each TSM includes:

  • an overview of the article
  • a science capability overview
  • the text characteristics of the article
  • the curriculum context
  • suggestions to meet the literacy challenges
  • possible instructional strategies
  • information on scientific investigation
  • a range of engaging learning activities
  • resources and links for deepening teachers’ science content knowledge.

Alex Oliver (teacher, Northland School, Wellington) says, “I’m impressed with the content of the TSM. There’s a lot of support right through from how to approach guided reading with guidance on modelling and strategies such as skimming and scanning, through to a good variety of ideas for mathematics, science, technology, and inquiry.” I like that the science activities will really get the students thinking and using rich vocabulary. The science investigations are well thought through and will be very useful for teachers who lack confidence. I think that they will indeed get teachers working the Nature of Science into the science.”

Links

Page from connected

The articles in Connected are varied. For example, students at Corinna School in Porirua East use data cards to sort and interpret data. Connected 2013 explores this using a graphic novel approach.

Your feedback is important

Research is being carried out for the Ministry of Education on the implications of the print + digital model for resources such as Connected, Ready to Read and the School Journal. If you are working with students at curriculum levels 2–4, try using the latest issues of Connected with your students in term 1. We’d appreciate hearing your response to the following questions:

  • What does the print + digital model let you and your students do that you couldn’t do before?
  • How are your students using the additional digital content?
  • What additional digital assets would you like in future issues of Connected?

Emailed feedback sent to Alex Collins (alex@lifteducation.com) by April 30 will be used by the research team. It will inform the development of the next issues of Connected, the activities in the TSM, and the range of additional digital content.

To find out more

You’ll find the main entry for Connected on Literacy Online(external link) on TKI. If you are not sure about using Google Slides, you’ll also find help there.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

The Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero is produced by NZME for the Ministry of Education for teachers, leaders, and other education professionals working in New Zealand.

Posted: 05:02pm, 24 February 2014

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