Meet the teacher: Heather Beattie
Heather Beattie is a Primary 4 teacher at Newtownards in Northern Ireland, we asked her about teaching, science and what she thinks of Explorify!
“I am a complete science novice, and this is an amazing resource, it really is superb. ”
Along with another teacher, I’m a science co-coordinator in my school. I have no science qualifications at all, I have domestic science which shows how old I am! I was quite worried about my ability. Explorify was recommended to me as part of the STEM group I am in. I loved it and went back and recommended it to teachers in our school and now I use it all the time. I like the fact that Explorify is visually appealing and I could see it would be appealing to my class, without being overly demanding to the teacher.
My school is in an area of very high deprivation; I’ve only got one child in my class who isn’t eligible for free school meals. Our approach is nurturing as a school, we’re trying to teach them that being wrong is OK as long as you learn from it. They’re so obsessed with being right or wrong, some children will not speak out. The fact that you’re talking to them at the same level, everybody contributes, it really sparks the imagination, trying to get children to give an opinion, they’re not frightened to have a go.
“It’s great for building vocabulary, brilliant for listening and talking, for newcomers struggling with language. Children will really surprise me with words I didn’t think they would know. ”
I have children with ASD, ADHD, Tourettes, SABD; it’s not an easy class and they all without fail, love Explorify. They’re the ones asking me to do activities – it has saved my sanity this year! There's been a real improvement in their joy of learning, previously I would rarely get a lesson taught without some kind of interruption, but I can always an Explorify done, they’re all invested. One of my children who previously was standing on tables and wouldn’t speak, he is now really blooming.
For children who have minimal home support to go home and look up extra facts, that’s amazing. Whereas before they would be looking at a screen, they’re looking around, they’re now asking about wasps, different trees, insects.
Off the back of Explorify, this one ASD boy, we’ve written a science fact book, they had to go off and research and interesting science fact, word process it, find an image, and we made into an A4 book. There's been a real improvement in their joy of learning, previously I would rarely get a lesson taught without some kind of interruption, but I can always an Explorify done, they’re all invested. We now do a science fact of the day, things like “a hummingbird is the only bird that can fly backwards”, they love it!
“My favourite activity is always whatever the last one is I’ve done!”
It’s exciting for me too, because I don’t know where it’s going to go, with this I can be doing this in ten years’ time and still be getting a different reaction from the class. That’s wonderful as a teacher, that’s a breath of fresh air.
My class like the Zoom In, Zoom Outs, because of the guessing, they loved the Black bobbles Zoom In, Zoom Out, it led to a bit of history about the tyre, about transportation, because there’s the little joins they thought it was something in space, we talked about the grooves and how they’re for grip. They love What’s Going On and Odd One Out, because there is no wrong answer.
“9.5 times out of ten they’ll choose Explorify.”
I’ll dip in and out of different age groups and use different topics. Sometimes we’ve got 15 mins at the beginning of the day or the end and I’ll offer them the choice of reading or Explorify, and 9.5 times out of ten they’ll choose Explorify.