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What are some ideas teachers use to keep the classroom management in order during hands on science activities?
2235 Activity Points
I have found especially with my kindergarten students to work as a whole group setting. Also we go over the expectations prior to the experiment as well as during the lesson. We recently did an experiment with pudding for the senses. The students sat in a circle, each students had their own cup. But what we did was one step at a time and this allowed us to make sure that everyone was with the group.
I really find whole group settings helpful and much more interactive with my students. I think it really depends on your class and the atmosphere.
4840 Activity Points
I am a preservice teacher in my Science Methods. We're learning to have students work in small groups that tend to be heterogeneous and each student is assigned a role. We use Getter, Recorder, Reporter, and Consultant. The getter gets all learning materials, keeps them organized, and returns them to the proper place. The recorder is responsible for recording any data or information and ensures each member of the group has their science notebooks completed. The reporter reports any and all findings for the group. The consultant is the only student who communicates questions for the group to the teacher. I hope this helps! Even if you choose your own roles, it really helps them stay organized and on task!
1040 Activity Points
I used to teach science to elementary school children after school. One of the things I had work was to have smaller groups and always have a role for each of the students, making sure that everyone is responsible for something was a great way to have them focused and motivated to work together in their small groups.
1525 Activity Points
LOVE the idea of giving the little ones a role and having them work in groups. I worked with Kindergartners last year and this worked well with all subjects!
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Thank you! I really like that idea. I have not started teaching yet I am still in college. This is definitely one of the problems I have seen in my student observations. I was just curious to looking at new ideas to help keep classroom management.
I will divide students into three or more different groups by readiness. Differentiate groups based on their interests or science skill level: I will know their level by two ways: on the one hand, I will review their previous lab report before the class. On the other hand, by questionnaire. I will check their answers to my previous questions so that I will know their interests and science skill level. Each group has their own task. At last, put them together to discuss what they did in the activity.
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Thank you for sharing ways you differentiate for your students in order to manage your classroom. I am getting ideas already for my future classroom!
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I love the questionnaire idea! I've been trying this with my 1st grade classroom and it offers a way for me to formatively assess my students and well as 'keeping them entertained.'
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This is a wonderful idea! I never even considered this but that's a great way to group students and this can go beyond science so that's very awesome!
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My students sit in groups of four with varied ability levels in each group. This way they help each other learn. The lower student can learn from the higher student.
Also, I have all the materials for the experiment or activity in one box in the center of the group. They know not to touch the box until I tell them to start. By having everything ready to go you save a lot of time.
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Thank you for sharing your advice on how you group students. There are currently about 21 students in the kindergarten classroom that I am currently finishing my second semester of student teaching at, so you can imagine how chaotic it can be at times. And, because the teacher and I are only one person, we can only help a few students at a time. Therefore, your idea about having students sit in groups of 4 with varied ability levels is excellent! If I am not able to help a struggling student, then surely one of the students in their group will be able to help. In turn, this also teaches students to work together.
I also like your idea of already having any necessary materials in one box in the center of the group before you begin the activity. Earlier in the semester, my cooperating teacher and I were teaching the students about color. Our activity was to have the students create their own color book. So, while the students were in specials, my cooperating teacher and I worked together to prepare each student's books, magazine and newspaper clippings, utensils (glue and scissors), and etc. for the students to advance. By doing so, we were able to save a lot of time!
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I assigned roles for both during and after the science activities. So whomever was the "science facilitator" (who read and checked understanding of directions) was also responsible for cleaning up the area around the lab and/or disinfecting the goggles, the "equipment facilitator" was also in charge of returning equipment that did not need washed, the "team facilitator" (who was in charge of making sure everyone got to participate) was responsible for washing dishes, and the "recorder" was in charge of washing the desks (that way they didn't get cleaned while the person was still writing on the paper and therefore get the lab notes all wet!).
The team facilitator was the only one allowed to ask me questions - that cut down on having too many people to talk to at once - so if a group had problem they had to make sure this person knew what it was and how to phrase the question.
The equipment manager was the only one allowed out of their seat before and during the activity.
Also, on days with "chemicals" no one was allowed to begin cleanup from ANY group until the team facilitator had dumped the chemicals from that group OR I put waste recepticals on the table that I collected later for them to dump the liquids into (these might be milk jugs with the top cut off so I could use the handle to carry them or old coffee cans/containers).
Another thing that a friend of mine does to cut down on cleanup is they use soda can flats (the cardboard that the pop cans are stacked on) to do the labs on and then if they are messed up they can be disposed and replaced. If the equipment isn't too heavy, this can be a good way to distribute it as well.
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Yes! Assigning students jobs is essential for good behavior management. I also love the advice given about assigning them real life applicable names like "science facilitator" "science investigator" and other things similar. It seems like students enjoy to feel important and they are more likely to be engaged in good behavior if you make it a point to do so. It is also important to repeat your expectations. Sometimes I feel like on the days that I have the best control over my students I am sounding like a robot because I repeat and repeat and repeat everything I say. This is necessary though because students tune out their teachers and the more times you say it, the more likely it is that the students will hear you at least one time!@
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I think this is a great idea! If any of you have read "Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire" by Rafe Esquith, it has a great economics system that can fit perfectly with a block math/science class if utilized proficiently!
Thank you for your responses! I like the idea of putting students together that are on different levels. I think it is a great idea to assign jobs for each group member. I would like to do this is my future classroom.
I am a pre-service teacher and I am reading this because I am also seeking ideas on classroom management for hands-on science activities. I am currently teaching science lessons and some new behavior management ideas would be really helpful. I have seen many behavior issues mainly because the students are so excited about doing science, so how do I balance keeping their excitement level up and good behavior management?
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I am a pre-service teacher and am currently working in the field. I am following this post because I need to teach a science lesson and am in need of suggestions for classroom management. I would like to find ideas for some hands-on science lessons. In the field I have noticed several students not being engaged.
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I am in school to be an elementary teacher as well and have noticed the same thing in teaching science with hands on activities in my observations. I have just taught a hands on lesson with magnets to fourth graders. It got kind of crazy. I was very rushed because my teacher did not allocate enough time for me to teach it thoroughly. I think a huge tip would be to allow yourself ample amount of time to teach these lessons because once you get rushed you may not go over the directions as thoroughly and this causes questions from the students that you could have answered at the beginning if you had only gone over directions and give them a chance to ask questions before they start the activity. I enjoyed reading the previous tips and found those helpful as well.
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I'm currently in college studying Elementary Education and the concerns of classroom management seem to be a common trend. Its struggle with it in any subject area, but with science you want the students to be as much as hands-on as possible so managing the classroom is a serious issue. For one of my science method classes, I am in a school that we are to either teach or observe some science lessons. From my observations, having smaller groups with child-interest based topics will keep the students engaged more than larger groups with a boring topic. It's difficult sometimes to differentiate instruction when learning a science topic, but I think it's important to try and do. I have concerns when the class starts to get rowdy. What are some ways I can regroup and focus the students that are effective and appropriate?
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I am a pre-service Elementary education teacher seeking ideas on classroom management because I too find it challenging to manage the classroom during hands-on science experiences. I have created some very hands-on activities I am excited to implement in the classroom where I am doing my field observations. I am really looking forward to doing a few lessons on force and motion. One of the main concerns with the activity is maintaining a safe classroom environment with some control at least. I am in an all-boy fourth grade class. Any suggestions or strategies to keep students on task/focused would be greatly appreciated!
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Hi Victoria, I'm still working toward my degree also. My class and I have been spending time in a local elementary school observing teachers teach science lessons. It's been a great experience so far. However, classroom management is a huge concern for me also. I taught a very brief lesson the other day that involved the kids blowing up balloons. I feel like it got slightly out of hand and would love some advise on how to keep kids excited yet still manageable.
1020 Activity Points
As a pre service teacher it is great to see what other people think and how they organize their classroom. As I am out in different classrooms it gives me opportunities to try out different suggestions from current teachers on how to pair groups and to keep everyone on task. I like the idea of having mixed groups so they can start to learn from each other. With this I feel like I would assign each group member a job or part so the higher level students wouldn't just run away with the project and leave others behind. CAnt wait to see more ideas
Rebecca Haa b
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I am a pre service teacher and have many of the same questions and concerns as the rest of you. I especially am seeking advice about classroom management during a hands-on science lesson. I have taught two lessons so far this semester, dealing with hands-on learning, and even though I love seeing the students enjoy their experience, it can get out of hand. The students seem to get so excited during my lessons, that they get off task. I want to be able to get them involved and out of their seats, but I need to be able to manage them appropriately and lead them to learn. It's also hard to get to everyone's questions answered when there's so much going on. I'm hoping I'll gain more management skills when I actually have my very own classroom, but that's not the case right now. Any advice would be great!
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I like your phrase "lead them to learn." Part of that leading is modeling the learning strategies and behaviors you expect them to have and use. In an earlier post, Tina described some of the roles she assigns students so they know what to do.
It's also important that students understand that an activity is as much of a learning event as a worksheet or teacher-led discussion (and probably more so). You want them to enjoy the activity, but students need to know that it is purposeful and not "free" time. So before they get started, be sure to emphasize the purpose of the activity and what students are expected to produce as a result (e.g., a report, a table or graph, a drawing, a model, a list of questions, a summary). Allow enough time to debrief on the activity before the end of the class time.
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What grade will you be teaching?
I find that students need some per-orientation to a hand-on activity. There also needs to be clear expectations regarding what students should be doing/learning. I usually create worksheet in an inquiry format and add an extension for the more advanced students.
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Thank you for all your comments. It is good to know I am not the only who who has these concerns with classroom management. I plan on teaching Elementary school in fourth or fifth grade. I think that time is a huge struggle for teaching science because I have noticed that many schools to not allow for a long time in science class. I am going to keep in mind all the tips from the previous comments. If anyone else had anymore suggestions I would love to hear them. Thanks again!-Victoria
Hello, my name is Holly Johnson. I am a pre-service teacher from Indiana University. I am also looking for ways strategies that will help me manage the classroom during hands on science activities. I recently taught my first science lesson with a group of third graders. I realized I definitely need to work on my classroom management skills to keep my students focused on the scientific process. I think it is very important to have all materials prepared for hands on science activities, so that students do not get out of control when the teacher is trying to gather the materials. I have attached an article I found that may help you.
Classroom Management and Inquiry-Based Learning: Finding the Balance (Journal Article)
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Mary & Pamela,
I am not sure what grade I will be teaching, but I have an Early Childhood Concentration. I am in a field placement classroom right now that is 4th grade. So, I am doing all of my science lessons in a 4th grade classroom setting. I really like how you suggested to model the learning strategies and that students need to know that it is purposeful and not "free" time. It's also a great idea to add extensions, like you suggested, in order to keep everyone on task just incase some students finish earlier than others. I'm hoping to use these strategies in my upcoming lessons that I have to teach before December. Thank you for your input!
Indiana University South Bend
I am currently studying to be a teacher at the high school setting in Life Science. I also had a question in terms of classroom management. From my learnings as a preservice teacher, we were taught that an important role in classroom management is to be both clear and firm on directions. These directions should also come on the first day of class and reviewed throughout the school year, almost on an activity-by-activity basis. I was curious of how accurate this statement was in terms of reviewing rules on a perhaps day by day basis. Is there ever a point to where one can manage the classroom too much?
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I currently am in my second year of teaching middle school science and am having the most difficulties with student management. In my school the teachers move from room to room, while the students remain in their home room all day. In addition, I am in an inner-city Detroit school and behavior is a big problem. I have students leaving class, talking, running around the room and that is during a normal class not even a lab. I am desperate for advice.
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Megan, I totally understand and feel for your situation. One thing you might try is PBS - Positive Behavior Support. Mind you, this works best when the entire school buys in, but it can be done on a classroom basis (which is what I did before my school decided to initiate this program). I do not recommend offering expensive rewards and I do not recommend paying for any of them - ask your principal if there are any things you can use already available in your building (donated coupons from local business, school pencils or leftover items from the athletic department like old stickers or flyers) and also ask if there are any community grants you can apply for to implement this program in your classroom.
This worked for my urban classroom - does anyone else have suggestions that worked for your situations?
Classroom routines are essential. Students learn what is and is not appropriate (and safe) through these routines. This requires you to model and reinforce the routines. At some point, students should have internalized them, so that even if you're not in the room, the students know what to do. My middle-schoolers did need "refreshers" once in while on the routines, and you can't emphasize safety too much.
But some teachers rely heavily on regimentation, micro-managing the classroom by having extensive lists of rules and giving orders over and over for every aspect of the class. When the teacher is not present, chaos can happen. So it is possible to micro-manage the classroom too much.
That is really good advice about classroom management. I find it really helpful because one of my biggest worries for when I begin my student-teaching internship, I feel like I'm not going to know how to manage my classroom, especially during science where I want to do inquiry lessons.
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I think it really depends on the age of children that you are working with. If you have young students then I think hands on science experiences are great but you don't have as many choices in activities like you would with an older group of students. I am not a teacher yet I still have one more year of school. But in one of my classes we started a science club after school and I didn't think the students would be very excited for the club but they love it and love the hands on activities that they don't get to do in the regular school day.
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I am currently a student in school for elementary education and we talk a bit about classroom management. From what I have seen in my field experiences, the key is establishing classroom rules and expectations early on. If the boundaries are clear at the start, then students may keep themselves and their classmates aware of the rules. I think that hands on activities, especially in science, are very important. We all know that students (and some of us) learn better when we are actively involved in the lesson, so initiating and maintaining an active hands on environment is essential and should be encouraged as much as possible. Setting up rules and expectations in the beginning should set up a great feel of community that is conducive to learning in the classroom.
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I too am a pre-service teacher at IUSB and I really like the idea of dividing the class up into groups based on interest and skill level. Then, giving each member a job to do seems like it would hold them all accountable for getting things done.
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I use a "Lab Procedure Rubric" that clearly outlines behavior expectations for all lab and activities days. Here is how it works:
Labs/activities are 20pts. - 10 pts for the hardcopy report and 10 pts for the lab procedure
Students are awarded 10 pts when they walk in the door, and how they conduct themselves within the lab determines whether they maintain their points or not. I carry a clipboard with a roster on it, and as infractions occur I warn students of a pending point deduction for any violation of the rubric. I will tell students when I begin to take points away, and I use tally marks to note deductions and sometimes notation regarding the offense.
I grade the hard copy of their lab/activity and include their lab procedure points. For example, if they earned a 9/10 for their hard copy report and maintained all of their lab procedure points, they have earned a 19/20 score. I will write the scores out separately, so they can see where points were earned and deducted.
Hope this helps! :-)
Lab_Procedure_Points.doc (0.03 Mb)
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I am a student attending college to become an elementary teacher, and I have to teach a lesson to the whole class (4th/5th grade), and I was planning on doing a physical activity with my students in which they will run around for awhile (with a purpose of course). My question is, how do I get them to then calm down after this activity so that we can discuss it? I know they will be full of energy, which is good because it means they are excited, but I also want to have an in-depth conversation. How would I go about this?
1020 Activity Points
I am currently in college to become an Elementary Teacher. I have recently taught a science lesson in my field classroom, and I had some classroom management issues. I was just wondering if anyone had any ideas on how next time I could control the class better? The lesson was engaging, and hands on, I just couldn't keep that class under control through the whole lesson.
1040 Activity Points
Hi, my name is Courtney. I am also a preservice teacher at IUSB. I recently taught a science lesson about circuits in my field placement. The lesson went great, for the most part. I did have some classroom management problems, however. I made the mistake to let them keep the materials (batteries, wires, and a light bulb) on their desks after they were done constructing circuits. I think a good tip is to make sure students only have what they need during each part of the lesson. Extra materials that aren't being used could be a distraction.
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I am a pre-service teacher and am seeking ideas for classroom management. In all my experiences I have not seen much science taught so I am not sure how to use classroom management during hands-on science lessons. You want them to interact and have fun but not to get out of control. The like the ideas discussed of splitting them into groups and working that way because you can separate the students by groups you know will work well together.
970 Activity Points
Classroom management is something I wish we focused on more while going through the teacher education program. Luckily I have a great field teacher who has fantastic classroom management. She uses a technique called "Whole Brain Thinking". When she needs to gain her students' attention, she will count down from 3, and her students will clap when she reaches 1. She then says "class, class" in various voices and they respond with "yes, yes", mimicking her voice. She also takes complete control of who are in what groups. She also wonders around the groups to make sure they are on task. She has a point system app on her I Pad that will randomly select a student and if they are on task when their name is picked she gives them a point. At the end of the day she puts the points they have up on the Promethium board for the students to see. The parents are also able to log on and see how their child is doing. At the end of the week, if the students have a certain amount of points, they get a reward.
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As I continue through my Teacher Education Program, we are continuously pushed to integrate disciplines within lesson plans ie combine Science with a Language Arts lesson. I am looking for suggestions for more than the typical read a story or writing prompt activities to integrate with Science. Math integration idea would be helpful as well. Any thoughts or ideas? Thanks!!
Also, I recently taught a static electricity lesson in my field that involved a sticky balloon activity. The idea for the activity suggested that students work in pairs and there was one balloon per pair. I adjusted this approach by informing students what we were actually going to do with the activity and decided that allowing each student to have their own balloon would be fair to all. I then asked students if the color of the balloon was important at all to our findings or experiment. The class responded that it was not. So I then asked them if the color of the balloon that they were given for the activity mattered. This cutoff the potential "I want (this) color" "She got the color I want" problems. Before other materials were handed out that did include Rice Krispies cereal and Cheerios I explained that some materials were food/edible. For our scientific purposes the materials should not be considered food/edible. Plus, I mentioned that the materials would be handled by multiple hands and people thus potentially "germming up" the food and they would not want to eat it after all of that handling. Students immediately asked a question I did not initially anticipate which was "can we keep the balloons?" I quickly adjusted and said that at the end of the lesson I would collect the balloons and based upon participation and behavior the rest of the day students could be able to take their balloons home. (I had them write their name or initials with a sharpie on the balloons and it worked!)
1080 Activity Points
As an up and coming teacher, I'm finding it difficult to monitor the behaviors of all the students during the lessons I've had to teach since they are almost always hands-on and I'm moving around the classroom. Luckily, I've had a cooperating teacher that was able to observe not only me, but the students as well; this allows appropriate responses to the behaviors of the students. I find it difficult to notice these situations, and when I do, it's even more difficult to develop an appropriate response/consequence without causing a distraction as well. Any thoughts or suggestions are more than appreciated.
1010 Activity Points
As a teacher candidate myself, I understand how difficult it can be to learn classroom management styles that can improve the environment of the classroom while ensuring that all students are on task and learning. I have found in my field experience placement that it is important to be as organized as possible before going into the lesson to avoid classroom disruptions. When doing individual work, be sure to have activities planned for students who finish their work early. These students will often need tasks to complete or they will start to cause trouble. When working in groups, deliberately choose what students will go to what group. Planning your groups out before your lesson will help you forsee any disruptions that may occur and you will be better prepared to deal with these disruptions if they occur in the classroom. Be flexible with your plans, however, so that it will work with the flow of the classroom for that day.
1225 Activity Points
I am a preservice teacher currently working on my Elementary Education degree. The exciting thing about most science concepts is that you can use hands-on activities and materials to help the students connect new knowledge to previous knowledge. However, as I think about teaching science concepts in the classroom, now and in the future, I am concerned about that classroom management, or lack of, will get in the way. Any first step suggestions?
1040 Activity Points
I am also a teacher candidate, and I agree that giving students roles or jobs for the completion of any group task is important. I have observed classes that did not do this, and it was chaotic. Students need to know who is going to be setting up the materials, who is recording, and any other jobs that would be crucial to the task at hand. I have seen kids waste at lot of time, and cause a lot of disruption over who gets to write on the poster paper and when. Assigning roles can solve this problem.
1740 Activity Points
You're absolutely correct in considering the importance of students' assuming roles during a group activity. It's easy to assume that students will know how to collaborate, but we know that you can't assume anything!
One thing that worked for me was to establish teams of 3-4 students. We changed the teams periodically, but students knew where their workstation was and who was in the group. Each member of the team had a colored dot on their folder: red, blue, green, red. For an activity, I would say that the red dots would be the recorders, the yellow dots would be the equipment managers, the blue dots would be the question-askers, and the green dots would supervise the clean-up (substitute whatever roles you would have!). For the next activity, I would change the roles, so that everyone had a chance at all of them.
I agree with Betty Paulsell, Let students help the students themselves is a great idea that benefit to both of the students. The former students can review the old knowledge, the latter can learn the knowledge that they did not understand.
You said you were going to have students up and moving "purposely" and your question was how to calm them down. Make calming down a part of the activity.
Have everyone stop moving and do a stretch, take a big breath and let it out slowly, take another stretch. Maybe have them close their eyes and visualize something that had to do with the point of the activity. If all else fails, turn off the lights and have them put their heads down for a minute - tell them if they are not quiet for a full (period of time - I would start with 30 secs) the class will not be able to go on with the next part. The lesson will always proceed much better if they are calm before the next step.
For others with similar questions, this process will work anytime a lesson feels like students are getting off task/out of control. Stop the lesson. Do any one or all of the steps above until the room is calm. Proceed. If they do not complete the activity then they do not complete it. The next lesson should be where students critique themselves and their behavior and how they should act during an activity. Do not allow them to blame others -they are only allowed to take responsibility for their own actions and provide suggestions on how they can improve - these can be listed where all can see them. Sometimes we make posters and have them around the room and point to them when we have to stop class - "didn't we agree that it would be best if we did _____ during labs?"
Sometimes younger children need this guidance to teach themselves how to calm themselves down (sometimes my high school-ers did, too!). It is okay to teach them how to calm themselves, and honestly, it is a survival skill for when things go wrong that will be useful outside of school, too. I also had students freeze and take two big breaths before fire drills (since for some reason the bell makes them hyper) and then repeat the procedure we follow so we are all on the same page.
I think is amazing that students are so excited while learning science concepts, however one of our concerns is to keep classroom management in order to deliver the lecture correctly as well as keep students on task as longer possible. As I read the latest posts,I also agree that dividing the class in small groups and assigning roles to each student is the best idea because each of them could participate in the process and be responsible for an specific task.
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In the school where I am doing my field experience, my teacher makes sure to have small groups during the hands-on science experiments. The students tend to get really rambunctious, but in smaller groups, I have found that they are not as loud and work better together. The main thing a teacher can do during hands-on activities is walk around to each group and make sure they are on task. During these activities, the teacher should be more of a facilitator, so he/she should be able to manage the class, too. A good way to get students focused more on the activities and less on distractions is by giving them responsibilities. If they all have roles in the group, they will be more concentrated on fulfilling their duties. Also, in my classroom there are multiple children with behavioral issues; sometimes, the best thing to do is offer them an incentive for their good behavior. This link, http://learningcenter.nsta.org/files/PB170X-10.pdf,is to book chapter that covers classroom management and has a lot of good ideas! Hope this helps!
2050 Activity Points
I am a pre-service teacher, but I've only had the opportunity to observe three science lessons. I have seen small groups work during these lessons, but they do still get loud and sometimes unfocused. What I'd like to know is how as the teacher I can make rounds from group to group to be the facilitator, but make sure the other groups I'm not with are on task the whole time.
1295 Activity Points
I think it is a great idea to assign a task to students or have task cards for a group and let them choose which one they will do.
Hello there! I’m currently a pre-service teacher. I know some classroom management ideas I’ve seen in my field schools that have been successful during hands-on activities and science group work. Perhaps dividing the class into groups and in each group have students from different levels be included instead of putting them all together. This will benefit them in developing social skills and increase the student’s proficiency, whether it be in language or subject matter. Also, assigning a task to each student is also worthwhile. When they know specifically what to do, it is easier for them to understand and be on task most of the time. The students can both work interactively, be communicating with one another, and doing their task.
1465 Activity Points
Hello from yet another pre-service teacher, I want to thank you guys for the tips you've posted in this forum. I know a lot of my peers, along with myself, are anxious about classroom management. I've observed a lot of techniques, and they weren't all efficient or appropriate.
However, I do appreciate and find effective the technique of using proximity control, group learning, and behavior tracking charts. I feel it is very important for students to understand exactly how they are misbehaving, what the consequences are, and what they should have done instead. I also love the idea of involving your students in the rule-making process. The idea is that by allowing them to be involved, they will feel valued in the decision-making process and will feel more responsible for following the rules since they had a hand in creating them. I know this wouldn't be as effective for higher grade levels, but I've seen it work wonders in lower elementary grades.
775 Activity Points
Although science experiments can be fun and exciting, we all know they can get out of hand if not run correctly. Assigning each student in the group a role will encourage them to remain on task and complete their job. Also, as a teacher, you should have all of the materials ready prior to the lesson, which eliminates time for misbehavior to occur. Additionally, all of the rules and expectations should be thoroughly covered before beginning any portion of the lesson.
515 Activity Points
I'm a second year STEM teacher, and these are some of the tips that have made the biggest difference to me as I get started:
- As you cycle around the room during hands-on activities, think about using sight lines. Make sure you don't have your back to any groups. That way you can see what other groups are doing even if you are working with one group at a time.
- If kids are exploring with some science gear, it often helps to give them a very specific purpose for the exploration. I usually say something like, "You have five minutes to look at ___ and then I will be asking you to share/report/explain ___."
- Try projecting a timer during an activity. I often put an online timer up on my eno board, and kids will check it to see how much time they have left. It definitely helps them stay focused when they know they only have x minutes to accomplish a task.
- Put supplies into bins or in the center of kids' work tables. When you want kids to stop exploring and focus on you instead of on the materials, have them put their supplies back in the designated spot before trying to talk.
- Try saying something like, "hands up/tools down" before giving directions. Kids can't fidget with the supplies if their hands are up in the air!
- Try changing kids' physical location while giving directions. Have them all gather around one table or "make an audience" near the board before going to work in groups. It makes listening time separate from work time.
- Come up with an attention-getting signal and use it religiously. Do not try talking to the whole class until you have everyone's attention. Then, once you have everyone's attention, talk softly if you want to keep the attention. If someone interrupts you, stop until you have all ears again. Remember to keep your voice soft. If you get everyone quiet and then speak loudly, they will often just get louder again!
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This is something that I am also concerned with. What about activities with older students that involve dangerous materials (fire, sharp objects, etc.)? Obviously preventive measures and close supervision is important but is it really possible to monitor all 30 or so students by yourself? Should I try and ask for parent volunteers to come in on the days I know we will be doing science activities like this?
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I have subbed for a middle school science teacher who had "Smiley Guys" in her classroom, they were small tickets that were handed out to students who were working quietly, engaging in classroom discussion or follow directions. At the end of the class, students turned their "Smiley Guys" into a bucket and if she felt the class had done a good job that day, she drew a few tickets from the bucket which were redeemable for candy, small toys, snacks and even extra credit!
When I first entered the classroom, I was unsure if this would keep the attention of middle school students were they were all listening very well and seemed excited about the idea of a reward for their good behavior.
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The time you spend before they start is crucial in your conveying clear expectations. Never start until you feel they understand goals, rules, and safety issues. Then move about, reminding them that you are there.
I did an eight minute interview last Friday with Neal Charnoff on Vermont Public Radio about new teachers, unions, testing, and the Common Core:
Remember- something can always go wrong. You need to feel, when that inevitability happens,that you did everything possible to avoid it, and you were ready when it happened anyhow.
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Hailee > I have had parent volunteers in my middle school class before (not my high school classes) on days when we are doing things that might cause trouble. However, I have found that if you have outlined what is acceptable behavior and been consistent with the consequences of not following the rules makes lab days easier.
And I make very clear (and have them sign safety contracts that my principal and the deans have seen and approved of) that anyone who does not follow the safety rules outlined on the contract is OUT of the room for at least that lab and possibly others as well. Severe infractions are written up and treated at the same level as getting in fights because they cause danger to the person who broke the rule and possibly others. I have found this really works best if your administrators have input on the contract and consequences listed for failure to comply (and fully understand their liability for lab accidents - to point this out, there are several articles and safety books available in the Learning Center. I recommend the Investigating Safely and Inquiring Safely books as easy to read and understand).
There will still be students who test you and the boundaries, and having good "withitness" also helps. There was an earlier post that mentioned "sight lines" and other good ideas, as well.
Teachers can have clear rules and expectations dictated to the students prior to the beginning of the activity. Confirm with all students that they understand the verbal instructions you have given. Also, be clear on having zero tolerance for negative behavior during the activity. Remind the students that they are here to learn and engage with their fellow classmates and not to take the time to socialize as that is not appropriate.
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I completely agree with everything that you are saying. I am currently finishing out my second semester of student teaching in a kindergarten classroom, and all of those statements that you made certainly do apply. In addition to dictating clear rules and expectations before beginning any activity, I have also found that younger students, like kindergarteners, need to be given constant reminders about the expectations as well. I've found that it also helpful to pose certain questions such as, "when I am teaching, where should our hands be?" "what should you be doing when someone else is talking?" and etc. Like so, the students are somewhat being held accountable for their actions. Because there is some kind of routine and expectation in place, there should be less time for disruptive behaviors to take place. However, this will not occur overnight. Classroom procedures and classroom management, in general, takes time.
Also, like you said, teachers need to remain firm in their expectations and not back down. If students continue to exhibit negative behavior during a lesson or activity, they need to know that you will enforce certain consequences. When the teacher is teaching, the students are quiet, listening, and participating in any classroom discussions, activities, and etc.
I am in the education program myself and by looking through all your wonderful comments have helped me and gave me ideas for when I start doing group projects. Thanks!
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In my second year of teaching, I bought a small bell. From the first day of school, I began teaching the students that the bell meant freeze and stop talking. This is great when doing hands-on activities (which are inherently chaotic at times)!
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What a fantastic discussion! Thank you for posing this question. I am going to be in student teaching next semester, and this is one of the things I am worried about. I worked in After School Care for several years, and it was a challenge to maintain decorum during fun activities. These are fantastic ideas. I appreciate the idea of assigning roles to the students. I have seen this work well in mathematics groups and literature circles. It makes sense that they would work in science as well.
One thing that I did learn from After School Care was to hold the students accountable to their promises. I would explain the project, but, before I handed out the materials, I would have them put their hand on their heart, raise their right hand and promise that they would follow all of the directions and behave safely. They loved it. They would often laugh, and they always remembered to follow the rules because they had promised to. Perhaps this could be turned into some sort of contract that could hang on the wall to serve as Experiment Safety Rules that all of the students can sign.
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I agree that routines are essential!
Students need to know what to expect, what is expected of them, and what will happen when those expectations are not met. This leaves less room for error, which is especially important in a science classroom where safety can be a major concern.
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I think it is a good idea to have all the materials organized in the back or side of the room. I called up specific groups to grab their materials to do the experiments. I made them all wait patiently so the results could be found at about the same time. Bringing the supplies back, I had certain groups go to the sink with the water, and others brought beakers back to another area. I just kept the students in small groups, rotating, and cleaning up in stages.
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I believe that the following ideas could help you to have a good Classroom Management:
- Having specific and clear expectation for your students. Create classroom rules of your classroom easy to access for students. Always state the rules in positive ways.
- Create a routine schedule in the classroom every day.
- Create the lesson in favor of students learning acquisition. Activities should be enjoyable, knowledgeable and educational during your teaching.
- Having a good relationship with the students can make also be the success of your abilities to maintain good classroom management.
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Definitely have the students work in small groups of 5-7. I am in a student teaching in a kindergarten class right now, and even though those students are 5 years old, and many of them have behavioral issues, they work so much better in small groups. Also make sure that you are spending time going over directions and checking for understanding. Ive noticed that a lot of the times that the students act out is because they don't know what to do next or what they should be completing and so they get distracted easily. Depending on the grade, I suggest having a volunteer to help each group along in the process or to float around to each group, or having visual instructions posted, clearly stating the steps of the lesson and what to do after they are done. I also suggest having extra activities for the students to complete if they finish early, that have to do with the lesson, and will help their understanding/ growth, but are not something that is graded, in case the other students don't get to it. Hope this helps!
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I am currently student teaching in a fifth grade classroom and my guide teacher does a great job with classroom management during science lessons. I also observed the teacher who only teaches science work with the students and noticed some major differences in their teaching styles that affected classroom management. Having students work in small groups with designated roles seems to be the most effective way to organize students. Also, making sure that students always have something to do is very important. Another important part of science lessons is making sure the students know exactly what to do during each step of the process, make sure students can explain to you what they have to do before they start.
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I am in my student teaching phase and I am still trying to develop my own classroom management. I live in Texas and I plan on working for a title 1 school. Any advice for a newbie will be greatly appreciated!
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I believe smaller groups would be a great way to manage the classroom. It's a;ways great to provide each student in each group with a specific role.
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Implementing small groups and voice levels are strategies I have seen many times. I think allowing students time to tinker with given objects before you actually get into the lesson will lower the playfulness and distraction students may have.
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I am currently in a fifth grade classroom and what I have noticed works for my classroom management has been giving students clear expectations. Like many have mentioned giving students specific roles is crucial so that you don't have all the extra discussion among the students about who does what. Also just making sure you are attentive and responsive to the will help things flow pretty smoothly.
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After reading the information that you all have posted I am able to get a lot of good tips to use in my own classroom. I am also a student teacher this year, and working with kindergarteners. I have yet to teach a science lesson, but in other subjects I have found it quite challenging to hold their attention if the lesson is not interesting and interactive. I appreciate the tips that were given, and will keep those in mind when I teach as well.
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Traci, you might want to try mini lessons for kindergarteners that presents short topics that their attention span will understand and visualize.
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I am a student teacher and we just did our first hands on science activity. Our tables consist of a 6 students at different levels. During this hands on activity the groups were should partners. Before handing out any equipment my CT gave them her expectations. Of course there is going to be some talking and discussion and even excitement, so I think things like that are up to you how you handle them (as in if you are okay with them being extra chatty). During the assignment the students did one section at a time and when we saw they were approaching the second section we would "Freeze Please" and give them additional instruction. Of course, you may have to give the directions over again to a few individuals. Of course there were students who didn't listen and they were quickly reprimanded for that, so just be ready. I think that after a few more times they will get the hang of the procedure, as that is what it is. Just like you practice lining up for the bathroom, you have to practice how to act with hands on activities.
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Definitely be consistent in the expectations each time. As a student teacher, I observed 2 different teachers for half a year and noticed that the one who was consistent had better class behavior, and she had 2 SPED students. It really spoke to me and she gave me great ideas.
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I think roles for each student can help a lot because it makes them accountable. My cooperative teacher always assigns roles/jobs for each student in a small group setting so that each student plays a part and that they know that they are accountable.
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Break students into small groups and each group assign a duty for each student that way they are responsible to have their area clean.
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The key to classroom management is expectations and procedures. During the first week of school, have these in place and make the students practice. Do not start the investigations until the students can demonstrate that they know how to behave properly for the occasion. Let the students know that there will be consequences and that if they do not act appropriately, then they will not be allowed to perform any fun activities... make the students intrinsically and well as extrinsically motivated. Chances are that if this is in place, students will start to redirect their peers in order to keep the fun experiments in the learning experience.
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Within my 3rd grade classroom, my cooperating teacher assigns student roles to help keep her classroom managed. A week before school started, we actually went to a workshop based on Freiberg's CMCD. It was really informative and my CT uses many of the strategies that the workshop insisted on us using. One of the strategies, of course, is by offering students roles such as the team manager, equipment manager, etc. By assigning roles, students take more responsibility for their education and also helps us teacher manage our time wisely.
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I am a preservice teacher and I have noticed in my field placement that would remind the students of the classroom rules each time they enter the classroom. Also the teacher would remind the students about how their behavior could effect the type of experiments they would conduct in class.
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This is a great question to look into. I am currently a student teacher in a third grade classroom. I taught a couple of Science lessons to my students and I mostly implemented hands-on experiments that I demonstrated in front of the whole class. I think it depends on what grade level you are looking into. In my personal experience, when I first demonstrate anything to my class, I always tell them what I expect from them and remind them about safety rules that is really important for them to be aware of and they understand that well. I always do hands-on experiments with my students, like recently I demonstrated a volcanic eruption, landslide, erosion, earthquake, and tsunami. I also had my students sit on the floor in a big circle and I also sat in the circle with them as well, so all my students can get the chance to see everything. I demonstrated different Landforms by using play-doh and my students had to guess the correct Landform name for each play-doh model I created. They were really engaged and on their best behavior. What I recommend is to get the students engaged by asking a lot of open-ended questions; that gives them hooked up and encourage to learn more. Sometimes I let my students know in advance that each student will need to pay close attention because they will have to share to the class what they observed during the hands-on activity or experiment. This way it shows the students that they need to pay attention and behave.
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I am currently a college student studying to be a teacher. What I have learned from the classes I have taken over the years is that forming a routine with your students is very important. Especially with the younger children, having a routine will help in keeping order in the classroom when working on a science activity. I would go over the classroom safety rules and procedures with the students and then implement a routine of things they need to do before beginning a science activity. For example, all books are put away, book bags are set aside, appropriate safety gear must be on, etc. By having this routine and demonstrating it a few times, students will remember this routine, which will make the transition to a science activity run smoother. I would also suggest having the students in the group have responsibilities. For example, one student can be in charge of the materials, another student can record the observations, another student is in charge of cleaning up, and then a team leader who oversees the whole group. Having the different responsibilities allows there to be less chaos within the groups and eliminates having students all over the place in the classroom. The students will be focused on the activity and their responsibility. It can also reduce the flow of traffic in the classroom, which can reduce the amount of spills or messes in the classroom. For example, by having one member of each group in charge of the materials, ensures that there will only be a certain number of students navigating around the classroom at one given point.
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Give clear instructions.
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I have found during my student teaching in kindergarten that hands on activities, communication between students, parents, and teachers active, and positive reinforcement are key to great classroom management.
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Thank you for all of the useful tips. I'm still developing my classroom management plan, and this information is so useful!
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I am in student teaching at the moment and my dream grades are kindergarten and pre-k. I have constantly been wondering the same question, and I like one of the responses given. I think teaching the students in whole group would be great for the younger students because you are able to monitor them all and you can have the students make connections amongst each other. I also think that going over the rules and expectations is also important because the students will then know what to do and how to perform.
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I am not sure what grade level you are wanting CMP tips for, but I have found the gem jar idea to work. Create a gem jar for your classroom and give the class a gem for whenever the class does something good. You decided how many gems they have to collect to receive a gift from you, you can give gems for remaining quiet during an activity. The kids in the classroom that I am observing it works very well!!
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Make sure that all expectations are laid out prior to beginning the activity. For younger grades, it may be necessary to continuously repeat the expectations throughout the lesson. Always model how to complete the activity prior to starting. This will clear up any confusion students have and show them what is expected. If pairing students, make sure to be conscious of who you are placing together. This can make all the difference in some students' learning.
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During a practicum experience this semester, the school I was placed in uses a school-wide system called CHAMPS. It basically has you address all expectations for your students before you start an activity. This system addresses the following; (C)onversation level, (H)elp, (A)ctivity, (M)ovement, (P)articipiation, (S)uccess. You start by saying what conversation level you expect your students to be at, how they can ask for help, what kind of activity they will be doing, what kind of movement they can make during the activity, who needs to participate with what, and if you meet all of these said expectations you will be successful. I found this system helpful when going over directions for the day's activity. I worked with 5th graders on a STEM unit, which we completed many hands-on activities. I liked this system and think it works well with explaining what your expectations are.
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Letting students know exactly what you expect form them and what the repercussions will be if they do not follow your instructions allows for students to not only know what they need to do, but it also holds them accountable for their actions. Science is a bit messy and that is okay. Just make sure the students are learning and being productive and if they are not, then they will be held accountable.
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I am currently student teaching and I find this question to be extremely important. Classroom management is hard in itself, then adding a science experiment on top of that can be challenging for both the teacher and students. I found some significant ideas in this forum. I like how the teacher can assign different jobs to each student in the science groups. Assigning jobs is a great way to keep everything in order and running smoothly. This is definitely one technique that I will use in my future classroom.
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I currently use lab jobs (which I call scientific thinking roles) in my 6th grade science classroom. I feel that these jobs have been instrumental towards classroom management during labs and activities because every student is held accountable and has a way to hold the group accountable. Each role has both a lab component and a thinking component. I based my thinking roles off of those found in this article: https://learningcenter.nsta.org/resource/?id=10.2505/4/ss08_031_08_26 I love the thinking component because every student has a role in both discussing the lab findings and presenting the lab findings. Students rotate roles with each lab activity so that everyone gets a turn (I have colored stickers on each desk and posters of each role within the classroom that indicate which color is currently working on which role).
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To keep students on task and reduce off task behavior in the classroom it is important to make sure each student has a job for them to do. I also think it is a good idea to put students in small groups so they can work with their peers. It also helps to tell students when they can talk and when they cannot. I have found it is best to give specific instructions for how you want the students to act during portion of the lesson.
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I have found that no matter the group size what works best is letting the students know what your expectations are beforehand. This has worked best for me thus far because students know what I will allow and what is not acceptable behavior before the hands on things begin!
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I have found that the best way to manage kids is to set up expectations right away. Make sure the kids are involved in creating the rules. They are much more likely to remember them and act within them if they help to decide what is possible. Have the students sign the agreement and keep it somewhere that they see it everyday. Review the contract with them when needed and add new rules if problems arise. Pick an attention getter and stick with it. Hand raise, clap pattern, silent coyote, if you can hear my voice clap, whatever works best for you.
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Doing my first science lesson with my fourth graders was a success. I was very nervous how they were not going to follow directions but the day of my lesson I was very surprised how they follow directions. Every time I gave out a direction, I had to make sure they were actually listening, i called a random student in order for them to repeat me the directions. That made my whole class listen and be ready just in case they were going to be called on
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I think explaining the expectation first then going into the hands on activity will help!! Good Luck
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The first I think would be a great idea is having groups of no more than 4. The next is making sure all materials are ready and in designated areas. Make sure youre always walking around and checking on things and asking questions to students. Students may get a little out of hand but when there is an activity going on, they are enjoying it and learning at the same time. Dont worry too much about making things perfect, you want your students to enjoy the process and communicate with others! Thats how they discover answers and create new questions.
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