# Elementary Science

#### Time Management

As a student intern I am realizing how difficult it is to teach all that I plan to teach. I want to be better at time management. I realized this when I taught a lesson on friction. We did an experiment using three ramps with different surfaces. We used the same item, and let them roll down the ramps at the same time. The students were really engaged which was great! I didn't want to rush it. Students were asking so many "What if" questions. They were talking about science so I didn't want to ignore comments. They were not talking about friction though. I tried to bring it up during the experiment. We even discussed the definition before the experiment. Most of them knew it. After the experiment students sat at their seats, and we were going to have a class discussion on the friction we saw. However, there wasn't enough time. I am afraid we did a really good experiment that made students really engaged but only discussed friction a little bit after it. The students walked away knowing the definition of friction, but I am not sure if they knew how to connect friction to the example they saw. How do you manage time so that students can actively learn and reflectively discuss science content in the same lesson?

Kimberly Grossman
1050 Activity Points

Kendra Young
17180 Activity Points

Thank you so much for your response! I really liked that article. It was a good way to think about setting expectations in the beginning of the year so that students know how to behave. I also like the example of using toy cars in the chapter you showed me. I am actually doing a lesson on Newton's second law, specifically focusing on the relationship between force and mass as mass increases. We are using toy cars and making a pendulum. On the end of the pendulum (made out of string attached to a table) is a paper clip with washers on the paper clip. We are going to keep adding washers. We will hold the pendulum at a 45 degree angle. Then we will let go and it should hit the toy car. We will measure the distance the toy car went after each time we add more washers. I want kids to predict what will happen. Also, I want to discuss at the end. I am afraid there won't be enough discussion time again. I will try and give students expectations ahead of time like how the article explained. I will have a preset amount of time on the experiment. My mentor-teacher showed me this website: http://www.online-stopwatch.com/ I am going to use this so that students will be able to clearly see how much time they have on their experiment. They will be doing three trials for each three different amounts of washers tested on the pendulum. We have a video clip we are going to watch before hand but I'm unsure if it relates to Newton's second law of motion. (Which is something I will be going over before the assignment). It actually might confuse this students which is why I might not use it. It goes over how when gravity is the only force acting on objects with different mass, the objects should fall at the same rate. I'm still confused as to how to explain Newton's second law to fifth graders. I will do more research. Any ideas? Also, should I bring up terms before experimenting or after? Students should be familiar with Newton's second law so I think I am going to bring it up in the beginning and refresh their memory (If I can teach it well). Normally, if a topic is new, should I bring up vocabulary before or after doing an activity related to it? Should I bring it up before AND after? Any ideas?

Kimberly Grossman
1050 Activity Points

Hi Kimberly,
You mentioned, "I'm still confused as to how to explain Newton's second law to fifth graders."
I thought you might be interested in a couple of the resources in the Learning Center on Newton's second law:
One is a Science Object: Newton's Second Law. Going through it should take about 90 minutes, and it is filled with great information for teachers.
The second one is a 7 minute podcast featuring Dr. Bill Robertson: Podcast-Newton's Second Law.
The third one is Bill Robertson's archived Force and Motion webinar. I love his webinars. He makes it sound so simple and his explanations are outstanding: Force and Motion: Stop Faking It.
If you don't have time to go through the webinar, you can download the ppt presentation at this same URL.
Finally Bill Robertson's chapter on Newton's Second Law is available in the Learning Center:
Newton's Second One.
I hope this helps. Do let us know how your lessons go! It is so exciting to hear how our newer teachers are using the NSTA Learning Center to increase their content knowledge and create engaging science inquiries.
Best of luck!
Carolyn

Carolyn Mohr
86423 Activity Points

Thank you so much for this helpful discussion on time management. I am a grad student at UMBC so I am not yet in the classroom, but I can see how this could pose a problem. As a new teacher I will need to be able to plan a lesson while taking time into account. When children are engaged in science discussion it a good sign they are motivated, so disrupting that motivation seems difficult. I think that if you revisit the experiment by encouraging another class discussion they could make the connection you wanted them to make on the day of the activity.

Katherine Hebron
2035 Activity Points

Marianne Blemly
1100 Activity Points

If I am really pressed for time and looking for a way to introduce a science concept, I use Brainpop or Brainpop Jr. My school purchased this online resource to help us (teachers) with introducing topics of any kind. This website has short movie clips that introduce different subjects, topic, people, etc. The clips are between 2-5 minutes and also includes quizzes, note taking sheets, and other activities. There is a free trial that you can use to see what is available. Hope this can help with time management.

Cristey Kagawa
2970 Activity Points

When I was doing my student teaching, I incorporated science into all of the other academic standards. My main focus was on butterflies and their life cycle. I brought in reading, math, social studies, PE, art, and of course, science. Everything was focused around the butterflies in some way or another. The kids had a lot of fun and I was still meeting the standards in the other areas.

Kathryn Mattila
2625 Activity Points

I agree with Kathryn that you can incorporate science in all other areas but sometimes it can be very hard. My students are always a excited when it time for science and I would always over plan and never have enough time to go over what I really wanted too because of their questions about what were learning or the lab may take longer then usual. Now I more so under plans my science lessons because the student questions and the labs take up more time them we as teachers realize and my science end on time and we able to close our lesson and talk about what we learned today rather then times up so clean up and off to their next class.

Helen Hicks
2635 Activity Points

Marianne said, "I would highly recommend that you do the lab first yourself, at a pace that you think is appropriate for your particular grade level and the students that you work with."

This is a very good idea. I have done frog dissections in my kitchen and removed the shells from raw eggs using acetic acid (vinegar) in my refrigerator for years. The best was when my husband and daughter stumbled into the kitchen on an early Saturday morning to find me crushing minerals with a mortar and pestle, and then sprinkling the powder into the gas flame on the stove. I still haven't lived that one down - but I needed the flame test! I really did!

Anyway, Marianne gave some very good advice. And on top of that, if you put a few experiments in the staff refrigerator and label them as such, no one ever steals your lunch. They're too afraid it might be something else entirely. :)

But on a more serious note, doing the experiments in advance is an excellent way to make sure your class runs smoothly. So many unexpected things can happen, especially when you turn an entire classroom loose with materials that go beyond paper + pencil + book. It's exciting and frightening at the same time. I remember lighting my first bunsen burner in class - it was only one and I was working with it - but just the thought of all those kids so close to an open flame and live gas lines scared me to death. I suddenly had the desire to send my high school chemistry teacher a very large bouquet of flowers.

Great idea!
Kendra

Kendra Young
17180 Activity Points

There is lot of great dialogue happening here. Kendra, I agree it is very important to practice the inquiry or experiment ahead of time. That gives you as the instructor time to anticipate questions that may come up as well as any possible glitches when students take this on. And this plays into time management. A little more time in preparation will most likely give some etra time in science class. Helen, sometimes it is hard to integrate other subjects into science. I think that mathematics is a discipline that is sometimes hard to integrate. And talk about over planning..I still do that sometimes. i think it is better to be over planned than under planned. Something I have learned is that sometimes we need to say to the students, I realize you are still working on that investigation, but it is important we all get together and talk about today's lesson before the class is over. I think for learning to happen we need to bring closure to the instruction. What do others think? Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
33985 Activity Points

Excellent topic! As a teacher, I've learned that sometimes there are times where you have to extend your lesson because something didn't quite work the way you wanted to. Other times there are what we call "teachable moments" where something comes up (a comment or a question) that is too good to ignore and you end up extending and/or changing your lesson to address that teachable moment. In any case, I think a successful lesson is one where you have "just enough time." not too much time or not too little time...hope that makes sense?????

Deanna
1195 Activity Points

Maureen Stover
41030 Activity Points

Kimberly, you asked so many great questions in your first two posts. I didn't want them to get lost in the thread with all the other great information being shared. Here's is another question that you had asked: "Normally, if a topic is new, should I bring up vocabulary before or after doing an activity related to it? Should I bring it up before AND after? Any ideas? " Vocabulary development is such an important part of learning and understanding. There are a couple of discussion threads you might be interested in perusing. They are filled with great ideas. One is under General Science and Teaching: Building Science Vocabulary.
The other one is called Practical Reading Strategies for Science.
I would love to hear if you try any new ones that you found here at the Learning Center and how they were helpful to your students, Kimberly.
How does vocabulary development and time management intertwine?

Carolyn Mohr
86423 Activity Points

Hi, I just wanted to say that I've enjoyed this thread and have gotten some really great ideas. I find that I rarely have time to observe and talk with other teachers at my school and I so appreciate your taking the time to share ideas here. Time management comes with practice and with knowing your class each year. I have years where I can get through activities or "experiments" comfortably and years where my class (kinder) just can't focus long enough to do what I had planned. I liked the comment I read about using sign language to help guide kids when they raise their hands. I hear so much about students' puppies during lessons on other topics and I spend a lot of time refocusing! I find that I work best when I keep my schedule flexible. My class follows the same routine every day, but I am very comfortable with scratching something like our writing lesson for the day if my students are really engaged in a science activity. By no means am I saying that the writing for the day isn't important...I just find that my class does really well when I allow them to continue something they are really interested in...Plus I sneak in the wriitng...

Andrea Godsill
1660 Activity Points

When trying new lab activities I often "piloted" them with one class or enlisted several students to do a dry run of the lab. Their input helped me to make alterations and corrections that were both time-saving and acted to clarify the procedures. Allowing students enough time to process what they have learned is important; studies have shown that students retain information if allowed the time to reflect on their learning. Several articles in the Learning Center are helpful regarding this idea. They include Perspectives: Thinking About Thinking in Science Class by Sandra Abell and

Attachments

A Ladder of Thinking (Journal Article)

Patricia McGinnis
25580 Activity Points

If you don't already have an account, you should try and check out discoveryeducation.com. This resource has many short, but concise videos that introduce and discuss many different topics. While it doesn't replace the classroom discussion, it may help to set up the lesson beforehand.

Will Kane
780 Activity Points

Will I agree with you about the benefits of a Discovery Education account - I use mine in class and for assignments. Unfortunately it is a fee based service and not everyone has access to it. Free and also very effective - I use a lot of NOVA Science NOW video segments (extremely easy to search) and Scientific American Frontiers (not as easy but wonderful) both shows on pbs.org. Many of the video segments have activities, teacher information and viewing guides.

Caryn Meirs
26205 Activity Points

I love maureen's idea about using sign language for students to indicate that they have a question, comment or answer. This would really make them think about why they are raising their hand and how it applies to the discussion. Thank you for the idea.

Barbara Smith
4755 Activity Points

I have the same problem managing time. I always feel rushed because the time I have to teach science is so limited. Sometimes my students are really interested and have really great questions but I have to cut them off. They always look extremely discouraged if they do not get an opportunity to ask their question. To deal with this issue, I have my students place a "Free Response" sheet on their desk. This is a simple sheet of folder paper. If they have a question while I am teaching and cannot share it during class time, they can write their question on their "Free Response" sheet and turn it in at the end of the class. I try to answer their question during the next class session or provide them with a written response. I think "Free Response" sheets are also great for students who have burning questions but are too introverted to ask them in front of their classmates. I want them to continue to be curious about the world around them and I think the "Free Response" sheet is a great way for students to get their questions out.

Juliet Kim
2330 Activity Points

Time management is one problem but I noticed in your first post you said the students were super engaged but missed the point of the lesson. That problem can be addressed by really front loading. If you are studying friction, use the word friction at least a hundred times before they hit the lesson. (I'm not exaggerating) You can work it in to all your discussions prior to the experiment. Have them do as many 2 sec. mini demonstrations of friction as you can before you have them start the experiment. EG. rub your hands together, scrape your feet on the carpet, try to slide something heavy over the carpet, always discussing friction. Once you've got them really focused on how friction affects motion they will more naturally notice it during their lab work. If You've ever watched on of those brain pop movies with the kids, they repeat the vocab as much as they can possibly work it in. That keeps the kids focused on what you were hoping they would observe. Sounds like you had a successful lesson. Keep going forward. It gets easier in some ways. Never in others. Have fun.

Joachim Huber
2080 Activity Points

Hi everyone,

Just to add to Joachim's comments - it's important to remember that no matter how engaging your lessons are, students need to interact with the content at least three times in different ways. This is true for vocabulary. As science teachers, we're swamped with vocabulary and technical jargon, so this is especially important for us. Provide as many hands-on experiences as you can, but drive home the vocabulary even more so. Language arts teachers at the middle and high school levels are often fantastic resources to find new ways to practice vocabulary without letting your lessons or activities get too dry.

On that note...what kinds of quick activities for vocabulary do you use? Does any one method seems to be more effective than another?

Thanks everyone,
Kendra

Kendra Young
17180 Activity Points

I find that posting word banks in class really helps keep me and the students aware of the vocab. I also have a game called word Wizards. Anytime they hear a vocab word in context anywhere they can write down the word in context, write a definition put in on a slip of paper into the word wizard box. We pull out a word a day from the word wizard box. If the word is in context and defined correctly for that context students pull from the prize bucket. (this works better if you keep word banks up.)

Joachim Huber
2080 Activity Points

Sorry, P.S. to my post word banks are as simple as a category of words posted on a long piece of tagboard hung anywhere easily visible in the room. I have used shades, walls, walls too high to reach easily are great since I like the words to stay up all year and cannot use that space easily for anything else.

Joachim Huber
2080 Activity Points

Joachim, I like your ideas. One thing I did in the classroom is attach the actual object to the word wall. This was critical for ELL students and students with disabilities but it was also a helpful instructional strategy for all students. For am example, when I was doing a science unit inventory of materials, a sponge might be included. I put the sponge in a plastic bag and taped or pinned it up right next to the word, Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
33985 Activity Points

Personally, I try to get the core portions of the material covered in about 80% of the time. Then, try to include plenty of extensions and additional analysis. This way, if I go over (which I find I often do) I don't find myself rushing through. I like learners to have a little time to contemplate. Students who finish early should also have alternatives so they don't encourage others who are still working to get off task. I think it is important to prioritize our content. As a former software designer, there was always stuff our clients wanted to add, but we started with the core, then added the other "features" as time allowed. Maybe we need to take a page from project management?

Jennifer Rahn
67935 Activity Points

Kathy, I love the idea of putting the object or a picture up. I also learned you cannot take anything for granted. I had a student who did not know what a faucet was. Not only did he not recognize the word, when I told him the word he could not point out the faucet in the room. This is 5th grade. I have 60% ELL. Maybe I should label things in the classroom. We could make a game of it. How many legitimate names can you come up with for this object. Thanks, Jackie

Joachim Huber
2080 Activity Points

Another thing I do is have the students keep a reading notebook handy all the time when they are reading. (I insist on this and work to build it as a habit) I have students write down new words they notice and the context, then if they can tell the meaning from context write down the meaning. If not, look it up later. I have lots of dictionaries in the room and students love to use them. Some days we will stop our reading a little early and share really good words we have learned. Joachim

Joachim Huber
2080 Activity Points

This thread has good dialogue occurring about many different strategies that influence the use of time in the classroom. There has been a discussion where maybe front loading might help students understand vocabulary and therefore more concepts during a science lesson. Jennifer talks about getting to the core content in 80% of the allotted time, therefore allowing more time for discussion or further analysis. I think I once heard that I should introduce my new material in the first 10 minutes of class and then make sure I was closing by reviewing the important concepts in the last 10 minutes. Practice time was that middle time because students' attention wanes after the first 10 minutes. I think in applying this to my science classes, I made sure to stop the hands-on part of the investigation ( even if they did not finish) so there was time for the scientists' meeting and closure. Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
33985 Activity Points

I do think it is important to remember what you guys are saying, that kids really can only track for a maximum of 10 minutes (that's 5th grade, younger, less) After that they should be trying things if they are going to remember and use what they learned. I also really agree with Jennifer that you need to prioritize and simplify. What is really important. Focus. Kids do better when things are really focused.

Joachim Huber
2080 Activity Points

I do agree that a timer helps keep me as well as my students on task. I have a smartboard in my classroom and use that so that my students can see it. But before then, I simply used a stopwatch (the one used for track racing) and when the time was up it was time to move on. I also think that if the students are really engaged and having their own discussions then you just have to go with it sometimes. I like to incorporate writing in science too so at the end, they are able to write in their science journal what they learned and if they had any questions about anything. I found this to be an excellent tool to use to find any misconceptions my students might have.

Rachel Nieto
530 Activity Points

I actually use the clock on the wall. I also have students put the time they started each math assignment. I've noticed it makes them more aware of reading analog clocks as well as elapsed time.

Joachim Huber
2080 Activity Points

Your post reminds me of the experience I had today... :) Some suggestions are to make sure your target is clear. What are the key vocabulary words you want to focus on and the key connection you would like to students make between vocabulary and experiment. Having the word/ meaning/ target posted somewhere is helpful. Throughout the lesson, you can draw the students back to the target. It is key to observe your students and their thinking to make sure it is focused learning. Wondering and question is wonderful, but not if it distracts from the key purpose of the lesson itself. Which brings me back to today...having a whole lesson planned and running out of time. I had to gauge an appropriate place to stop, based on my students and how much they could "handle." Then, as I recapped to make sure we were on the target learning, I noticed that some students were not showing what was expected, so had to use pair of students to model what was expected as I explained the skill with the criteria written on the board. In other words, making adjustments based on your students learning and thinking is important. I would have liked to complete the whole lesson, but knew it wasn't worth it if the learning was lost. :) It would take even more time to reteach. :S

Kelly Asato
3820 Activity Points

I agree, you have to make sure they are getting the lesson before you move on. Scaffolding is so important. Otherwise you are building on sand.

Joachim Huber
2080 Activity Points

Great ideas all the way around. I enjoyed reading this thread. I like to get my students to help me with time management. I assign a PI (Principle Investigator , or Person In Charge) to each group. They are in charge of making sure that everyone in their group stays on task. I can then just call out, "PI's - get your group back on task." and allow the students to focus themselves. They are also in charge of resolving conflicts in the group, and the only students allowed to talk directly to me during an experiment. Giving them the responsibility tells them that they are capable and competent, and that they are a very important part of the process. It also frees me up to evaluate the process and keep my timing tighter. When we do run close to time the PI is in charge of getting everyone in his group to summarize the most important thing about the experiment, write it down in one or two sentences, and hand it to me on the way out the door. (yes, I know that's very vague, but you'd be amazed at what they see as the "most important thing".) I can use those papers to judge how much of what I was aiming at actually was understood by my students. Analysis of those papers also gives me a springboard for our next day's adventures.

Linda Smith
3005 Activity Points

Linda, Sounds like you are having fun. I love the PI idea. What age kids do you teach? How much practice do you do with groups to get them trained to do their jobs in the group? Do you have other jobs in the groups?

Joachim Huber
2080 Activity Points

There's actually 4 jobs: PI – Principle Investigator Is in charge of the experiment, is the only person allowed to talk to me. makes sure every person gets to do something, and in charge of solving arguments in their group. MM – Materials Manager Is in charge of getting materials to the group leader. The only person allowed to get supplies from the supply station. MD – Maintenance Director Is in charge of cleanup, Is in charge of making sure everything gets back to the supply station ready for the next class to use. SD Security Director Makes sure the group “practices safe science” All group members are responsible for their own notes If anyone comes to me with a question, complaint or comment, I ask them if they are the PI. If they say yes, I answer their question. If they say no, I tell them to talk to their PI. Roles change every experiment, so if you are mean when you are PI you need to expect when the person you were mean to becomes PI they will treat you the same way you treated them. I also suggest that they think how they would like to be treated in that situation and treat their team mates the same way. When the PI complains that their group isn't listening to them, I say, "Don't you hate when that happens? How would you like to be treated, try that." I teach preK to 6th grade. I do groups with all grades, but they don't get really good at it until maybe the end of Kindergarten, and the writing and notes thing I don't even start until the beginning of first grade. First graders are responsible for writing a lab sheet that included the problem and a hypothesis they create (we do as a group)that includes what they think the answer to the problem was and why they think it. Second graders and above are expected to write an entire lab sheet - name, date, problem, hypothesis, procedure. After we do the experiment they come back and write the results and conclusion. I'm attaching a pdf that I wrote for a workshop a while back. It's just my opinion, and that and \$5 will get you coffee at Starbucks, but it might help. Linda

Attachments

Linda Smith
3005 Activity Points

Thanks, Linda. I appreciate how specific your plan is. I will be able to use it. Thanks for including all the rubrics to help the kids score themselves. I assume you have the kids score themselves as well as you scoring them?

Joachim Huber
2080 Activity Points

I usually score the lab sheet and use it for a grade. The kids rate themselves on the participation matrix. They are much harder graders than I am ;) Hope that's helpful. Linda

Linda Smith
3005 Activity Points

Linda, This is very helpful. Thanks.

Joachim Huber
2080 Activity Points

Tiffany Franklin
1170 Activity Points

Tiffany. Thanks for the great ideas. Another great movie to watch is Bill Nye the Science Guy on erosion. It's one of his best ever.

Joachim Huber
2080 Activity Points

Also, Bill Nye on water cycle is really great too.

Joachim Huber
2080 Activity Points

Just an added note on vocabulary. Earlier I described the word wizards game. Students write down on a slip of paper when they hear a vocab word in context, write the context and a dictionary defintion for the word then we pull them out at the end of the day. Anyone who has 20 entries gets a prize. (I just keep a class list on the board and tally each time they enter. I have found that any students who engage in this activity at 20 or more entries per week move up significantly in their standardized tests. The best ever was a student who went up 30 percentile points on the state reading test from 4th to 5th grade. The least was a student who went up 10%. The trick is to get the kids to engage. It works better some years than others.

Joachim Huber
2080 Activity Points

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