Is this a problem for us to solve or the Science teachers?

(20 Posts)
swanthingafteranother Tue 11-Dec-12 10:19:48

Ds1 (12) is at a good comprehensive, all boys. It is a Science Specialist school. Ds does not appear to understand science, although he started enthusiastically enough and joined Science Club. [He has been thrown out of Science Club for being disorganised and disruptive] He is working at a 4c level in Year 8.

Yesterday he had to draw a diagram of the heart.
He tried to do it from his textbook but there was very little information. He imediately said he didn't know what he was meant to do. So we looked on the internet for a diagram. Almost immediately he said he didn't understand, scribbled something down (mostly labelling things in the wrong place). When I remonstrated and tried to explain what each bit was and how heart worked, he flew into a rage and said he didn't care and rushed off to football session. He does his science homework perfectly diligently and hands it in, but it always like this, to a very low standard and misunderstood. And he doesn't retain the information at all for subsequent tests. The marking shows this is a concern for teacher too. They frequently ask for more scientific terms, explanations, proper diagrams, better presentation.

So, we are now in Year 8. He has been like this throughout the science course so far, seeming to absorb very little of what is done in lessons though going through the motions of copying perfectly neatly from the blackboard in class itself. His science tests come back 10/20-ish, but when I look closely I see he has marked things right which are wrong, and the latest test was in reality 3/20. So exhalation is "bad breath" for example. Fishes breathe through their "noses". The heart has two sides so that one side is for "emergencies". Typical thing he has marked "right" in a multiple choice quiz.

We are referring Ds for dsypraxia. He is having problems in all the subjects, less so in Humanities. It seems a simple case of lazy sod, work harder, read text book properly, revise for tests. But he is sooo defensive about it and I don't what what to do next. FORCE him to sit down and listen to explanations (I got excellent science O'levels although I am not a scientist by inclination or ability)?
Or ask the science teacher for special help?
Or let him sink into scientific oblivion and just accept he is a dud at this subject.? Btw until now we have let him get on with science by himself and do his work independently.

Or could there be some more visual way to explain things to him/get him interested? He likes the bits where they cut things up or cause explosions, just not the methodical bits.

IndigoBelle Tue 11-Dec-12 10:24:29

Not being able to label a diagram when he has the answers in front of him suggests a problem to me.

He certainly could have a 'learning difficulty' - eg dyslexia or dyspraxia, that is causing this all to be too hard for him.

So to mask the fact he can't do it he does the behaviour you're describing.

Get him tested for dyspraxia and dyslexia.

You can also try and make the subject more visual for him - but it depends why he can't / won't do it in the first place as to whether or not this is the right approach.

swanthingafteranother Tue 11-Dec-12 10:30:37

To be fair, the heart is an exceedingly complicated organ, requiring 3-D diagrams of great complexity..grin tubes all over the place, which is why I find researching on the internet so tiresome for matters of this kind.

Indigo we are having him assessed. But if he comes back dyspraxic what is the next course of action..he still can't understand it...

I just wonder what hardpressed science teacher is going to be able to do in the line of remedial work.

I seem to remember falling asleep in Chemistry, crying in Physics, but still ending up with an A at O'level in Double Science. I put it down to clear explanations from teachers not just my own ability. So is that what is missing?

chattygirlneedsacuppa Tue 11-Dec-12 10:35:29

Don't write him off. It sounds as though he is really frustrated at being unable to take in the information and retain it. If it is in all subjects he might need some interventions to enable him to learn effectively. I am no expert but my son was diagnosed with ADD in primary school (the inattentive type) and the school had written him off. He is doing really well now after a lot of encouragement. I also incorporated prebiotics into his diet (sachets from Boots) which I feel have helped him to concentrate. I hope you get the help he needs. I wouldn't just leave it to the school though, your encouragement and support will be vital. My son learns a lot more easily from youtube videos and seems to remember information which has been received visually much more accurately.

swanthingafteranother Tue 11-Dec-12 10:42:09

He also behaves well in class, and cooperates very well, so behaviour is not the issue (although I think Science Club was less structured so he fell apart there and just started messing around). It is the actual understanding and evaluation which seems to be lacking on his part. Closely followed by motivation.

IndigoBelle Tue 11-Dec-12 10:46:10

These are the things I've done which have helped my 2 dyspraxic sons:

* Auditory Integration Training
* Vision Training
* Neurodevelopment Therapies ( Tinsley House and Retained Reflex Therapy)
* Gluten Free / Dairy Free Diets
* Supplements
* Cranial Osteopath

After all of these therapies their dyspraxia no longer causes them (or their teachers) any problems. ie they no longer have dyspraxia

So, I guess it's up to you what you do - but there is heaps and heaps and heaps and heaps you can do.

RoobyMyrtle Tue 11-Dec-12 11:24:20

My daughter was the same with Maths. As soon as she was presented with an algebra question she just went mad, behaved really badly and said she couldn't do it. She's in the top set but even very simple concepts seemed too difficult for her. I think she was in a total panic and not thinking straight. This website really helped her http://www.khanacademy.org/

There are videos on everything science/maths related. In her case she went right back to why we even need algebra. Once she got that everything else followed. She got top marks in her last test grin

It's too late now, but there's a great video on the heart and what all the bits are for and why we need one.

TheWave Tue 11-Dec-12 11:31:06

Get a really simple text book to have open and use for homework/class work rather than the internet? Involve him in choosing one in the book shop (having researched first that there are some before you take him)?

PurplePidjChickIsNotTheMessiah Tue 11-Dec-12 11:36:13

I'd work on his self-esteem - he'll know he's struggling and probably feel like a complete useless failure, stupid and incompetent. Remind him he's not and that there are other things he can shine at?

swanthingafteranother Tue 11-Dec-12 11:45:54

He is good at other things and gets praised by school often for all sorts of things, behaviour/music that sort of thing.
However, he has reached a sort of stalemate with our intervention and just runs away whenever we try and help support him with his work, and that's a bit why I feel the science teacher may have an important role. After all, she knows what the learning objectives are, and we don't. Sometimes I have questioned his work and he has started screaming, no no mum I don't need to do that. I stop there. Then work comes back marked with comments that he hasn't done the very things I suggested. I wonder whether he is not getting what the "parameters" of questions are.

I have to re-iterate that our intervention with his science homework has been until now minimal. We have left it for his teachers to comment on his work, but it is increasingly clear that he just has decided to switch off and minimum.

RE: textbooks, any suggestions for a very good biology textbook? We have science books galore, and they do a mixed science textbook but often the detail required is greater than book shows.

swanthingafteranother Tue 11-Dec-12 11:47:56

Thanks for video suggs btw rooby fascinating. I fear too difficult for him at present, but I was very interested! I feel all fired up about science now..grin

noblegiraffe Tue 11-Dec-12 11:54:12

If he has decided that he is rubbish at science then it could well be that he is simply not trying so he can blame his failure on his lack of effort rather than lack of ability/understanding. Sparking his interest might help - what was he interested in when he signed up for science club? Could he watch Braniac or the Wonders of the Universe or that program where they dissected a human body?

I'm also wondering if the problems with labelling diagrams and marking the wrong answers in multiple choice tests are connected.
How is he at labelling diagrams in other subjects? Can he remember the basics of a map in Geography? Can he draw accurate diagrams in maths? Is he able to select the right answers on a multiple choice exam where you know he knows the right answer? Is the problem here to do with motor skills e.g. Dyspraxia or some issues with visualisation?

swanthingafteranother Tue 11-Dec-12 12:32:26

No, it is a Science problem, and a D & T problem and a partial Maths problem. Not the same problem with labelling in Geography or Music diagrams. And multiple choice fine in other topics so not visualisation in that sense.

Just doesn't understand anything "technical" for want of a better word, and not interested in it either.

Always hated Lego hmm

Yes, he isn't trying either. But who is going to make him try, teachers or us, that is the burning question?

swanthingafteranother Tue 11-Dec-12 12:35:24

He wasn't rubbish to start with, and genuinely interested in the bunsen burners and exciting activities like rocket launches, just doesn't seem to understand there is technical reasons and explanations for things that happen. The intellectual nuts and bolts of science are of NO interest to him. His constant refrain is Who Cares?

swanthingafteranother Tue 11-Dec-12 12:36:06

Noble I will try the tack you suggest to enthuse him a bit more.

swanthingafteranother Tue 11-Dec-12 12:36:36

sorry there are technical reasons not there is.

TeaBrick Tue 11-Dec-12 12:37:40

There are also science videos on youtube which are very helpful

swanthingafteranother Tue 11-Dec-12 13:42:29

Spoke to Science teacher on phone. She says he is improving and very enthusiastic about his heart diagram this morning!!confused She says she is teaching through repetition of scientific terms until they can't help but use them grin and also lots of imaginative ideas - so that they can imagine the concepts in a concrete way. So that is a bit more encouraging. smile She also said she doesn't expect boys to have an attention span of more than a few minutes. shock or ever take anything in from what they read on a page. So I will try a bit more explaining rather than just saying read the textbook.

Apparently quiz was to find out what they didn't know before they started module...

BlissfullyIgnorant Sat 29-Dec-12 23:42:07

YouTube is great if you can find the right things (vet first)
Try the butchers for a heart - push water through to see where it goes and then cut it up - excellent and gooey, also good fun to do eyeballs but you do need a very sharp knife!
Get a copy of lesson plans - see if you can org some practical experiments.
A decent chemistry set and microscope is always good - get the best you can afford. Then maybe, if you can/want to stretch to it get a really good telescope for sky watching.
Or say 'sod it, let's do music/art/sculpture/something else'

oldpeculiar Tue 01-Jan-13 19:42:29

I wonder why they need to draw a heart , it seems quite difficult I would have thought labelling a printed diagram would teach them as much.

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