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All children benefit hugely from the opportunity to make sense of the world around them, seeking answers to questions they find genuinely puzzling. But while there are few things better in life than watching a child reach a Eureka moment, helping him or her to achieve this through science lessons can be a daunting prospect at times – especially as a non-specialist.
Tigtag bills itself as ‘the complete online resource for teaching primary science’ and I was interested to see how it would help budding scientists and busy teachers, such as myself, get the best out of the curriculum.
In a nutshell, the resource is broken down into units that offer short films, whiteboard screens, lesson plans, background information for teachers, key questions, activity sheets with answers and extension tasks. Even better, the material is said to match all the areas of learning covered by the new curriculum for science at key stage 2.
On first logging onto tigtagworld.co.uk, I was impressed by the orientation features – including a simple tutorial – which made it easy to access the members’ area. Within minutes I felt confident enough to navigate the whole site, aided by the clear and consistent layout that is shared by all the units.
The films are short enough to keep the class interested without losing out on important details. I was especially impressed with the picture quality and resolution. Parts of the natural world were brought to life in amazing detail: I was entranced as I watched remarkably clear footage of an anglerfish emitting light to attract its prey. Along with providing information, the films are designed to encourage the viewer to ask deeper questions, develop observation skills and problem solve. Alongside this, ‘Did You Know?’ clips are likely to impress and inspire young learners. With my literacy head on, I also liked how the films emphasised key vocabulary by displaying written pop ups throughout the sequences.
For me, the real strength of this resource is not so much in what the children actually see, but in the enormous help it delivers in lesson preparation for the teacher. The lesson plans are varied and well structured, providing worksheets, printable card sorting resources and lots of ideas for extension activities. I was particularly impressed by how simple it is to encourage investigation using the materials. It’s obvious that a great deal of thought has been put into maximising the potential of the school environment and resources needed to teach the lessons are already likely to be close at hand.
The downside of Tigtag is that, by heavily relying on film to deliver the curriculum, interactive opportunities are somewhat limited. A number of information gathering activities attempt to address this – these link to short factual films and involve the children catching a blob on the whiteboard. However, I fear the novelty of this is likely to wear off pretty quickly, particularly as children progress through key stage 2.
It think Tigtag would be even better if the puzzles and topic quizzes could be answered by individuals or small groups of children using a tablet or laptop, with the scores sent back to the teacher electronically to aid assessment.
Overall this is a good, inexpensive product that’s well worth a look (until 25th October, a one-year subscription for a any sized school is on offer for less than £100). I would imagine that, along with non-specialist or new teachers, schools looking for a good quality, uniform approach to delivering the new science curriculum would find it useful. I’m confident that pupils’ learning and enjoyment would be reinforced through the high quality film clips. Well done Tigtag.