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Teaching for Conceptual Understanding in Science | Posted in Professional Learning

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

Guest Speakers in the Middle School Classroom | Posted in Next Generation Science Standards

Aloha! I teach 7th grade life science from 8:40a-2:20p and have about 8 guest speakers a year. I have found that most guest speakers are willing to stay all day and repeat themselves!! I usually provide them with water and lunch/snacks. I have found that most guest speakers do not provide notes for students to take, so I ask for their PowerPoint before they come in order to create a student handout. My students are much more engaged when they have something to follow and take notes on. Go for it! Guest speakers enrich the unit and experience! Kimberly


Kimberly Tangaro

Science Showcase | Posted in General Science and Teaching

I've seen many formats at Family Nights. Many parents may be unsure how to encourage their children in science. In additions to demonstrations or presentations, you could provide parents with take-away activities that they can continue with their children at home--seeds to plant, discussion starters, observing things in your neighborhood or backyard. Small door prizes such as books, hand lenses, garden starter sets can also be motivating. It might be helpful to invite community resource such as science centers, extension agents, museums, etc. to share the opportunities that are available. Mary B.


Mary Bigelow

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