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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

First Day of School Science Activities | Posted in Life Science

Hello Lauren, A good beginning of the school year activity would be one that gets students thinking about the scientific progress to set the standard for the labs that would come for the rest of the year. Some ways to do this are setting up different stations that could be good for observation like, the characteristics of a flower, or even the way worms interact. You can have students make hypothesis based on their conceptions of the different stations. You can also do another exercise that can be done in perspective lab groups as a team building exercise. This consists of giving each group a handful of marshmallows and spaghetti sticks. They have to building a tower with the materials and see who's stands up the longest. Its quite a fun first day activity. Hope this helps!


Antonia Passalacqua

Inquiry-Based Learning in Elementary School | Posted in Elementary Science

Hi Kevin! I am currently taking a undergraduate course called "Methods of Teaching Science" and we also have a major focus on inquiry-based learning. Personally, I believe that inquiry-based learning is great for students because it gives them a chance to think for themselves instead of merely being told an answer. Furthermore, science is an ongoing investigation of the natural world so even professional scientists are in a continual process of reviewing and asking questions. One way to incorporate this type of learning is to follow the 5E model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate) which easily aligns with Next Generation Science Standards. I suggest becoming familiar with both of these, if you are not already! I cannot think of any cons of introducing inquiry-based learning to lower elementary grades. Journal Article that addresses your question: https://learningcenter.nsta.org/resource/default.aspx?id=10.2505%2f4%2fsc17_055_01_18  I hope some of this is useful to you! 


Brooke Tatz

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