Everyone Coaching Physics: language and literacy

Our Everyone Coaching Physics sessions are aimed at those involved in teacher development from across our nations and regions. 

mentimeter image, results show that energy, weight, mass and current were the most frequently mentioned words

Attendees’ responses at a recent Everyone Coaching Physics session

We welcome CPD leaders, lone teachers supporting their department, mentors and initial teacher trainers - in fact anyone who supports at least one other human in their quest to become a better physics teacher. We discuss ideas and best practice in coaching physics, looking at how the most recent education research relates to physics teaching and learning.

A session in March looked at the importance of literacy for science teaching and how reading and telling stories may be used as a way of encouraging it. Although numeracy is important, an Education Endowment Foundation report in 2017 found that: “In correlational studies of science learning, the strongest and most consistent predictor of pupils’ scientific attainment has undoubtedly been how literate they are.”

We distinguished between ‘literacy in science’ and ‘scientific literacy’ and discussed whether science teachers, are also language teachers, as the words we use have a precise scientific meaning which often differs from the way the words are used in everyday contexts. One example is the word ‘cell’. Asking a group of people what they understand by ‘cell’ is an interesting exercise - it may be mistaken for its homophone ‘sell’, be the room in a prison or cells in honeycombs. And that is in addition to the chemical and biological contexts. ‘Radiation’ and ‘electricity’ were also identified as ‘difficult’.

We looked at the EEF’s suggestion that oral language interventions should be based on the idea that comprehension and reading skills benefit from explicit discussion of either content or processes of learning, or both, and that oral language interventions should support learners’ use of vocabulary, articulation of ideas and spoken expression.


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