An Investigative Approach to Science
 Classroom Management Strategies 
The planning, organising and management of science in the primary classroom, can be a headache for many teachers. Resources, space and numbers of pupils are all factors which can influence the success of any science lesson.

Investigations are no exception :- 
  • Where shall I find enough resources for every pupil? 
  • How can I ensure that every pupil has 'hands on' experience of the investigation?
  • How shall I manage to successfully liaise with each pupil as they carry out their investigation? 
  • Do all the pupils have the necessary skills and knowledge required to carry out the investigation?

Therefore to minimise potential difficulties, the planning and organisation for an investigation in the primary classroom is outlined below. 

Group Rotation Reporting back  

Group Rotation
Prior to the lesson taking place, the pupils should complete the relevant revision worksheets (see pages 7 & 9).

The science investigation and its accompanying tasks should begin with the 'Brainstorming' session (see page 19) which is done with the whole class. The pupils are then split into three groups - A, B & C, in order that they can rotate between their three tasks which make up the investigation lesson (below)
Investigation ............   Date ............   Class ...............  Teacher ...........
Groups Activities  consolidation of the Attainment 
Outcomes would have taken place
A  T  Investigate  Plan
Design    Do
Plant Life Cycle
Seed Survival
Race Game
B Seed Survival
Race Game
 T  Investigate  Plan
Design    Do
Plant Life Cycle
C Plant Life Cycle
Seed Survival
Race Game
 T  Investigate  Plan
Design    Do
Each group should spend approximately 20 minutes on each task. Group A for example, are working with the teacher  in order to carry out their investigation. This enables the teacher to assist a relatively small group of pupils with the 'planning designing and doing' of their investigation. This also means that only a minimal amount of resources are ever needed at any one time, i.e. enough for a group. Only one or two pupil(s) 'the spokesperson(s)' need complete the investigation report form (with the aid of the others in the group).

In the meantime the remainder of the class are engaged in worthwhile tasks/activities which are either closely related to the topic of the investigation or which develop the ideas connected with it. e.g. Group B are playing The Seed Survival Race Game which reinforces the idea that not all seeds will germinate and some of the reasons for this. Group C meanwhile are completing the Plant Life Cycle Worksheet which describes the 4 stages in the life of a plant.

It is therefore suggested that three areas of the classroom are set aside for this purpose for the three Groups A, B & C to rotate between

Investigation tables set up with science resources, planning page and pencils Task tables set up with Seed Survival Race Game Set Task tables 
 set up with 
 Plant Life Cycle Worksheet
While is not necessary to move furniture etc, it is desirable that pupils in the same groups are sitting at tables near each other.

Now the pupils simply rotate between tables approximately every 20 minutes (depending on the capabilities of the class) until all 3 activities are complete. 

Reporting back
Now that the pupils have been to each of the three 'stations', and completed their investigations, tasks/activities, it is time for each group to have their ‘spokesperson’ report their findings back to the rest of the class (remember that the pupils should take turns at being the spokesperson each time an investigation is carried out). It is essential that the groups do report back for two reasons;
  1. Some groups may choose to measure different variables and therefore will have entirely different results from the other groups e.g. Group A decides to measure the length of the root while the other two groups decide to measure the length of the shoot.
  2. Even if all three groups were to choose to measure the same variable, some of the tests may not have been carried out fairly and therefore they also would have differing results e.g. all three groups choose to measure the amount of seeds which will germinate at 30°C. An unfair test would be if one of the three groups did not keep all of their seeds at the same temperature.

    In the case of the investigation in cress seeds, the reporting back would not take place on the same day as the investigation but three days later (to allow for growth to take place). 

While this is only a suggested method for the planning and organisation of an investigation, it has been tried and tested in the primary school and has been proven to be effective and highly successful.

The Group Rotation approach has been incorporated into every investigation in this booklet. The tasks and activities which are on each Group Rotation planning page are only suggestions for the teacher. A list of other tasks and activities are available at the back of each section on investigations, should the class teacher wish to incorporate these instead. (See Follow Up Activities page 27).

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