Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Never Assume Anything

This should be tattooed on the back of every teacher's hand lest they forget.

This week, I forgot.

A chance comment two minutes into the start of yesterday's science revealed that about half of my class didn't think plants were living things. Now, I know they are only 6 or 7, but this is not the first (or even the second!) time they have studied plants, so I was floored. Serves me right, as I had assumed that this was a given.

Never Assume Anything.

So the science planned was thrown out of the window as we addressed this. First of all, they had to talk in pairs about whether they thought plants were living things or not and why. I waspleased that a number of the children applied a (to me) good sense of logic - if it can die, it must have been alive. However, one little girl told her partner confidently that plants couldn't be alive because they didn't have a face. Her partner was nearly tearing his hair out with frustration as he presented her with evidence - they grow, they die, they need watering - to no avail.

Next they brainstormed all the ways they knew an animal was alive. After a good discussion about these life processes, they then had to review what they knew about plants and compare it to the life processes. They agreed as a class that plants need water (and compost is a bit like food too), they grow, they reproduce and they die. We set up the plants on the windowsill with the flowers turned away from the sun, to see if they would turn towards the light (like someone had noticed sunflowers did). Therefore, since three out of the seven life processes were covered (and one was about to be tested) plus the fact that it could die, the children then agreed that plants were indeed living.

All, that is except my cherub who said: "But I still don't think it's living. It doesn't have a face"

Dunno what that says about the thinking skills in my class.

Any suggestions on how to tackle this one, PLEASE leave a comment.

If you want me, I'll be in the garden, checking the daffodils for facial features...

4 comments:

Lou said...

After reading this blog, I have smoke coming out of my ears and nostrils at the moment! I taught half of your class last year (and it is just my luck that the half of your class that didn't know that plants were living were probably... my old class!). Some of my best lessons last year were on this very topic. We had 100's of investigations on growing plants. We planted cress and beansprouts, we put some in the dark while others had no light etc!!

I'll get my coat.... and expect my P45 shortly!

Nic said...

Rest assured Lou, the doubters were evenly mixed! And to be fair on them, it was more that they weren't sure that they catagorically didn't think they were alive. But, the child in question was in your class last year...

Watching her partner go loopy with her, I pointed out that worms moved and were alive, but they didn't have faces.

"But they have to have faces or they wouldn't be able to see where they were going", she replied...

(PS Having tipped the others the wink, I can confidently report that all Y2s in the mixed class bar one were very confident that a plant was alive, while all the Y1s didn't think it was - therefore that, to me, is evidence that it was a teaching point last year. Mine were obviously a bit dozy on Monday!)

mad muthas said...

do worms have faces?

Nic said...

To my knowledge, no. but I haven't got close enough to tell for a great many years...