Meet the teacher: Rebecca Johns
Rebecca Johns is a Y3/4 teacher at Fochriw Primary School in a village near Merthyr Tydfill. Rebecca leads on STEM, ecoschools and Welsh.
Rebecca started #scientistoftheweek at her school, and we loved it so much we wanted to find out more!
How did you start #scientistoftheweek?
Scientist of the week came up after a discussion between me and the headteacher. We wanted to celebrate the children who are doing really well in science and raise the profile of it in the school, so we talk about in assembly and share certificates. It helps to promote science in the school, and it helps children understand what being a scientist is. You don’t have to be in a lab, it’s accessible for everybody.
How do you feel about teaching science?
I love teaching science! I always enjoyed science at school, so much so I did science A-level. I had such passionate teachers from primary school onwards, and now we want to get that positive attitude across for other children. It should be fun, practical and nurture their curiosity. We want to give them a good grounding in STEM and give them ambition for the future.
How did you find out about Explorify?
We found it through social media and started using it in January 2018, the children have loved it and we’ve loved it! We can’t quite believe that it’s free! It’s great that it’s digital, so it really does engage the children. Everybody is convinced how much it benefits our children; it’s developing their knowledge and understanding from nursery to year 6. Our school is part of a STEM strategy group and they encouraged us to engage with Explorify and we took it from there. Every staff member has a login and I did a staff INSET to give them an idea how to use it. We’ve done two reviews in the staff room, the teachers have responded very well.
How do you use Explorify?
We use Explorify as a standalone, as an introduction for a topic, and for the provision of oracy skills. We found it really good for vocabulary and especially for topic-specific vocabulary.
It’s useful as a starting point, to get that hook for a topic. You can squeeze in 15-20 mins of science here and there and it builds up. The range has been useful, there seems to be something on any topic I could possibly want! The Background Information in each activity gives you the confidence to discuss these topics and it really cuts down on my research time!
My class like a good discussion! We often end up discussing things that weren’t necessarily set out at the beginning, but it’s great they take it in their own direction. We watched one of the film clips, the Sensitive plant activity, we talked about reactions to a stimulus and we went off on a discussion of why it was happening.
What is your school's approach to learning?
We try to give the children as many real-life experiences as possible, as we are from a small village in the valleys. We’re focused on skills, and 21st century learning. We want all our learners to be engaged and challenged.
What are your favourite activities?
Anything with a film clip, my children find them really engaging. They often want to come back to it after we’ve discussed it. We’ve had some heated discussions about the Odd Ones Out! It gets very passionate. It’s amazing the broad range of responses we have, it’s not necessarily the obvious answers, they come up with things I hadn’t thought of.
What's the best pupil reaction you've had?
The fact that they’ve had the enthusiasm to go home and do more research by themselves! We find it so important for them to lead their own learning, and we want to give them the opportunity to do that.
With the Venus flytrap activity, they engaged with it outside the classroom. They’d done more research, they went home and brought in projects, someone had even made a model of a Venus flytrap. Another class had seen that and wanted to join in, so we’re looking at where we can extend it out further.