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STEM programs | Posted in STEM
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I don’t believe that this should be thought of as a new concept because we teach students science and math almost every day, and they encounter these subjects every day. Students walk outside, and there’s science all around them. Students use math every day to pay for drinks or food, simple addition or subtraction, and counting. They use technology every day too with cell phones, laptops, Ipads, etc. These topics aren’t hard for the students to learn because they already know things about them and encounter them every day. We just need to turn them into an educational teaching that promotes higher thinking.
I would implement STEM within my class by having my Kindergarten students work on simple yet, challenging experiments. For example, my students need to build a bridge for 21 elephant counters. All of my students know how to count to 100, and they all know how to make and build things like bridges, towers, cutouts, etc. Now they need to use trial and error to see if what they think works (science). They would then need to count how many elephants they can fit (math) on the bridge they built (engineering). In the end, the teacher can help the students record their finding on video or add the audio to a picture using an Ipad (technology).
classroom management during experiments | Posted in Early Childhood
I am currently a student teacher in a math and science classroom, and I get the chance to watch my mentor teacher enforce the most effective classroom management skills I have ever seen. She uses positive reinforcement constantly. The school I am at has a reward system where they give "merits" and "demerits" for behavior. These are backed up by a system where if students accumulate a certain amount of merits, they can choose to spend them in the classroom "store" or save them for a special privilege. My mentor says things out loud to the class like "I appreciate how ___ is following my instructions, I am going to give them a merit." or "These students are showing patience as they wait for the next activity quietly, I will give them a merit." Sometimes it is while some students are off tasks, so they will redirect their actions so that they can also receive merits. If it doesn't help, she will give demerits after fair warning.
Another really great technique is giving access to science experiment materials after modeling and giving explicit instructions on what they are expected to do with them. First, tell them what to do, then tell them the voice level you expect them to be at. Showing appreciation for those that followed instructions constantly. I hope this helps! Good luck!
Inquiry-Based Learning in Elementary School | Posted in Elementary Science
I believe that inquiry based learning is also extremely beneficial for students especially at the lower elementary grades. Like mentioned by others, this type of learning helps the students think for themselves. There are also different types of inquiry based learning, depending on how much direction you would like to give the students. If you are going to completely hand over the reins to the students this is called an open inquiry. In this inquiry the students will be in charge of coming up with a question/problem, procedure, and results/ analysis. This would be a great way to get the students to think creatively and problem solve. However, for the younger students it could be hard for them to come up with everything on their own. So, for this age group I would recommend a structured inquiry. For this, you as the teacher would come up with the question/problem, and the procedure for everyone to do. Then the students would have to analyze and reason as to why these things occurred. In my science methods class we did an experiment called "dancing raisins for our structured inquiry. We were given the question of, "Why do raisins, when added to a cup of sparkling water float to the top of the cup?" We were also given the procedure of putting five raisins in two cups with the same amount of liquid, one with sparkling water and one with regular water. Then it was our job to analyze why it was that the raisins floated in the sparkling water. I think that this would be a great idea of a structured inquiry for younger elementary grades. You can structure it, but still gets them thinking!
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