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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

Keeping Students Engaged | Posted in Elementary Science

Andrea, I think along with Katherine said about engaging and hands-on activities, students interpret and understand new information well when they can connect what they learn back to something they are familiar with in real life. In other words, creating meaningful activities and asking purposeful questions that help students think about the subject outside of school terms is a great tool when teaching. I also like KWL charts and flow maps that can help the teacher evaluate if the students have gotten the "big picture" out of the lesson.


Naimah Urfi

Project-based learning in a geology classroom | Posted in Evaluation and Assessment

Hi Anna --

The February issue of NSTA's Science Scope has the theme of project-based learning. Although this is a middle school journal, I suspect that the activities could be ramped up a bit for high school. There are good articles on co-designing projects with students and managing group work.

Mary B.


Mary Bigelow

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