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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.


Mary Bigelow

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

I teach only science, so for me, I get the kids for a short time and I am looking to make it pop. In elementary classes, I start with procedures or expectations but I weave that into an inquiry/discovery lesson. Mostly I use units from the Picture Perfect Science books by Karen Ansberry & Emily Morgan. They include lessons on discrepant events like the jumping beans for 4-5th biology (where students learn that not everything is as it seems at a glance) or "Earthlets" where students learn the value of piecing together all the information that they discover. I've used their lesson on the learn'd astronomer or Rachel Carson, "a sense of wonder" in both cases to introduce in a soft-start way that science is more than "doing". It includes pondering, wondering, ruminating over how amazing creation is...and helping students to place themselves inside that story as active participants in the science journey.


Annamarie Door

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Gabe Kraljevic, Victoria Valentine

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