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Teaching for Conceptual Understanding in Science | Posted in Professional Development

Currently, I am entering my 4th year of teaching 7th and 8th grade science. I’ve always felt that the traditional lecture format my department employs is not the most effective way to reach my students. I’ve added numerous lab activities in an attempt to promote deeper understanding. However, it wasn’t until I stumbled across this thread and read about conceptual understanding that I felt like this is the method that I should have been using all along. The shift to NGSS blends perfectly with this style of instruction and learning. I agree with Joyce in regards to covering the curriculum. We tend to sacrifice depth of learning in favor of squeezing everything in before the next round of state testing begins.

I have read and reviewed many of the resources provided in your book “Teaching for Conceptual Understanding in Science.” I felt the different instructional strategies listed in chapter 8 were extremely beneficial. I’m left with a few lingering questions though. Based on what I’ve read, teachers need to administer some sort of probe or pre-assessment to gauge students’ misconceptions or prior knowledge before planning instruction. Are these probes supposed to take the entire class period? If not, then how do you plan the day based on information you are gathering in a 15-20 minute time span? Using the conceptual thinking model how are teachers providing instruction for concepts that are completely unfamiliar to students?

Shalen Boyer

Science Trips | Posted in Informal Science

Pam, I really like your idea of visiting a local university with students! I know from experience that children at this age look up to young adults, which provides a much greater chance for the students to listen! A great idea for them would be to visit the greenhouse (in the university has one) or, doing something even in a science class, or EL ED methods course.

Haley Wiebenga

NSTA's Virtual Conference - Teaching Controversial Topics | Posted in Professional Development

Hi Mary,
I have had the opportunity to participate in several virtual conferences. The most amazing part of it is getting to hear firsthand from the experts on a topic. When I attended the solar eclipse one, I was blown away by all the great information that was shared. I was so well prepared to participate in the total eclipse in Carbondale this past August because of what I learned at the virtual conference.

I also attended the Climate Virtual Conference where they had atmospheric scientists and meteorologists from NOAA (who actually study climate change) share their expertise. Then we had experienced educators share how to present engaging lessons to our students. Your brain leaves the day's conference filled to the brim with fresh new ideas.

I love going to NSTA conferences like the one coming up in Atlanta, but it is a totally different experience. The virtual conferences are such a great value for the money. All those experts on one specific topic are gathered together for the day just for us!

I am especially interested in the March 3rd virtual conference because I am looking forward to learning some new strategies for teaching controversial topics in science, AND the other emphasis, according to the overview, is about having a better understanding of the nature of science.
Hope to see you there!

Carolyn Mohr

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