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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

Chem for those who do not like it | Posted in Chemistry

Hi! I think you have hit the reason for NGSS right on the head! The phenomenon approach to learning is what drives those students in the classroom. When teachers engage their students with phenomena they have a true curiosity or interest in the interest levels in the classroom drive up. Students are shifting from this rote memorization or even just learning content in isolation; to having a role and a mission of trying to figure something out. Chemistry is especially daunting in isolation. When you give students a task, then build a story around that task where now they need to know this information to complete the task. They will be more engaged. The hardest part is choosing a phenomenon that fits your students. You should figure out what are they interested in. What are things that would hook them? Once you get to know your students more you will know the types of phenomenon’s that will drive them.


Jessica Holman

Incorporating science in a family vacation trip | Posted in Informal Science

Greetings!

As teachers, we’re always on the prowl for ideas and resources for our classrooms. You can tell who the teachers are at amusements parks (figuring out the physics principles at work), on the beach (identifying shells and other critters), and on the hiking trails at state and national parks (with binoculars and guidebooks or ID apps). We take (drag?) our families and friends to museums, science centers, zoos, nature centers, botanical gardens, and arboretums. Even at historical sites, we can find applications of science to share with our students (for example, while my husband and I were exploring the history of the Gettysburg Battlefield, I was also photographing the lichens on the monuments). We stop the car to photograph interesting rock outcrops or fantastic cloud formations. Our souvenirs include rocks, sand samples, fossils, pressed wildflowers, maps, brochures, books, and thoughts and reflections about improving what we teach. (Be sure to follow local procedures about sample-collecting, though. Photographs are good!)

My husband got used to the fact that our vacations always had a science component! And I enjoyed sharing my experiences with students.

Mary B.


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