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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

classroom management during experiments | Posted in Early Childhood

Hi Selena! 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!


Bianca Balderas

Science Trips | Posted in Informal Science

We studied habitats and what animals eat. We have a place here locally called Bear Country USA. We took a tour of the facility and then the nutritionist for the animals came and showed us how they prepare the meals for the bears and other animals. There was actually a Scholastic News article about how meals are prepared at zoos or animal sanctuaries. It was perfect timing with our field trip. If you have a local zoo or animal rescue place you can ask if you can take a field trip and talk about nutrition of animals .


Brenda Velasco

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Garnetta Bonner, Catherine Creane, Toni Ivey, Flavio Mendez, Stacey Militello, Katie Wolfensberger

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