New Teachers

Search for Emphasis on Science in the Classroom

As a current teaching assistant in an elementary school I have observed a lack of emphasis on science concepts in the classroom.  As a future elementary educator, I would like to think that science concepts will be strongly focused on within each grade.  Does this seem to be common practice in other schools?  Are there curriculum constraints (i.e. stronger emphasis on other subjects due to testing) that could be resulting in this?  Any suggestions on how to incorporate multiple subjects within a science lesson to help alleviate this?

Kelsey Eller
Kelsey Eller
970 Activity Points

We have science standards in place in my state, that are strongly aligned with NGSS. The truth of the matter is, since testing seems to be the "most important thing", teachers are told to focus on core subjects. (I am in an elementary school.) I'm a lead teacher and work with Pre-K - 5 so I suggest to teachers to use their literature to tie science into their lessons. In the upper grades, they have dedicated science time but the students have very little experiential and background knowledge of science concepts. It's sad but, yes, science feels like an afterthought. Other schools don't necessarily approach science in the same manner in my area. I can only speak for what I see.

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
89534 Activity Points

Hello Kelsey,

The sad fact is that science, like many disciplines, takes a back seat to the big subjects: Language and Math.  This is particularly acute because there is a tendency to treat all the subjects as separate entities when we really should be incorporating all subjects into all the learning activities of young students.  With emphasis on language and math it is easy to justify taking time away from other subjects to make sure students understand and, sadly, perform better in those subjects.  Other factors that apply: many elementary teachers have very little background in science and they may fear teaching it; there are limited budgets for science supplies and resources; limited PD funding means that teachers are more likely to attend language and math conferences than science, social or the other subjects; limited PD experience means that teachers will not be confident in trying exciting, hands-on activities; science is one of the subjects that some parents will consider non-essential or even disagree that should be taught.  

As for how to integrate subjects:  There are many natural phenomena that can be used as a thematic launchpad for wonderful learning experiences in all subjects.  For instance - Monarch butterflies in the millions descend on specific, isolated valleys in Mexico.  But, these butteflies have never been there.  They were born all over North America and are the grandchildren of the monarchs that last visited!  Imagine the geography, art, language, math and science that can all be taught diving into this story.

Check out NSTA's NGSS Hub (https://ngss.nsta.org/) to get other ideas and how you can do this.  

Hope this helps,

Gabe 

Gabe Kraljevic
Gabe Kraljevic
3143 Activity Points

I have also seen a lack of science teaching in the elementary grades. There often is not time for it and other things seem more important. Since elementary students do not take state tests over science in the elementary grades, it is pushed off. Science is important though! The 5th grade science teacher that I am student teaching with now discussed with me the problems with science not having an important place in the school day until later grades. The next school I am student teaching at is starting a program for reading that uses books to incorporate social studies and science concepts. I love this idea and can not wait to see how it goes!

Alayna Treadway
Alayna Treadway
250 Activity Points

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers