This chapter will explore beginning teachers’ views of the use of dioramas to teach young children about scientists who have contributed to our understandings about Natural History. Recent changes to the English National Curriculum have resulted in re-focusing learners to consider not only what do we know about an area of science today, but also, how did we come to know (and whom was responsible) for discovering theories we learn about in school. Hypotheses (and evidence) that enabled scientists to recognise the process of survival of the fittest; the ways that fossils representative of different geological eras have helped us consider (and understand) why the form and function of plants and animals has changed over time and how pollutants, too, have caused changes in survival rates of particular animals are all contributory to appreciating Natural History. The scientific work that people, such as David Attenborough, Charles Darwin, Mary Anning, Rachel Carson and Jane Goodall have carried out will be considered through the ways that learners could use dioramas to convey aspects of their ‘stories’. Constructing dioramas can help beginning teachers appreciate how a more concrete, direct, ‘hands-on’ approach using everyday materials, can offer affordance to make complex ideas easier for younger children to understand. This chapter also describes, what they, as beginning teachers, reflected on through making a series of dioramas to depict the ways that the different scientists have contributed to our understanding of Natural History in some way. They also considered how it was a useful approach for young children, not only to make the dioramas, but also review each others’ and create a class collection of ‘models’ to help understand what we know (and how) about Natural History. This chapter, therefore, is written about a piece of evaluative action research undertaken to explore what beginning teachers learn (and think) about the use of dioramas to help children understand natural history.
McGregor, DebraGadd, Jennifer
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences\School of Education
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