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How to fit science in your schedule
I am currently student teaching and hoping to get a elementary school teaching position next school year. Through my experience so far, it seems like it is difficult to incorporate science lessons consistently everyday because the focus tends to be on Language Arts and Math. For experienced teachers out there, how would you recommend making sure science is incorporated into your lesson plans multiple times a week? And how many times a week would you recommend teaching a science lesson?
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Sometimes I look at my time available and split it between science and social studies. One week it may be all science and the next week it may be all social studies. Sometimes I split the week and have 3 days of science and 2 days of social studies for that time slot. It does get difficult when you also have to find time for computer lab, and social and emotional learning. I usually have between 45 minutes to an hour left over a day that I can use for science or social studies. Some times I start a lesson, then when it is time for my students to reflect, I have them write in their science notebooks for a writing assignment in language arts. The truth is that if you can incorporate science into other disciplines it makes it easier. Have students read science articles during reading to prepare them for a science lesson later, to give them background. Or if you are working on fluency have them do a readers theater on a famous scientist, or science concept. My kids enjoyed doing a readers theater on Newton this year when we were working on fluency. Later when we were working on the laws of motion, one of my students said, "Hey this is just like that play we are reading about that guy, Newton." He connected the two and it was exciting.
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I am also a student teacher, therefore I'm not exactly an experienced teacher to answer your question BUT I have noticed different ways my cooperating teachers have integrated science throughout the day. You're right, there are days where the students don't exactly focus on science because they simply don't have time but my teachers have found different ways to at least add a little bit of science. For example, this past month my class had chicken eggs in the classroom, something that my language arts teacher did to incorporate science into reading was that she chose a poem specifically about chicken and eggs. The students were able to connect this to what they were learning in science and talk about it in reading. Another thing I've noticed are read aloud books. Even if they don't get to science that day, my teacher uses her read aloud time to focus on a science book and therefore the students still learn something about science that day.
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Just a suggestion, but you can find something to do in your daily routine that incorporates science. Science can also be interchangeable in the idea that you can build connections from what you did in science with all your other lessons or kill 2 birds with one stone and do a lesson that covers more than just one subject :)
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I can see how it can be difficult to incorporate science in a way that is meaningful and not chopped up between it and social studies. At my school we do it quarterly so that we can spend enough time in both subjects. I think this is a great way to do science justice as we can spend enough time of the subject instead of splitting our time between science and social studies.
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There are a lot of picture books that have science activities to go with them. Just choose a book and think of a STEAM activity to go with the book. NSTA has a book entitled "Picture Perfect Science Lessons" that does exactly what I just described.
Also the NSTA Science & Children Journal has a monthly article "Teaching through Trade Books" that also does that.
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Science and Engineering can be an engaging lens for teaching elementary Math or English Language Arts using resources such as the " Picture Perfect Science" series http://learningcenter.nsta.org/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/9781935155171 and http://www.pictureperfectscience.com/
or "Engineering is Elementary" http://www.eie.org/
it can indeed be challenging to fit science into the day, with the increased emphasis on English Language Arts and Math, but it is critically important to student learning. Perhaps talk to your teaching colleagues at your school about how they manage their day. and fit in science. Also try to advocate for the importance of science time in the day with your principal.
Remember that science itself is a critically important subject area for young students. I encourage you to do your best to fit in "doing science" as often as possible (not just "reading about science"). . Elementary age is the perfect time to engage student curiosity and ignite a life-long interest in science.
You may have some future scientists or engineers in your classroom!
Opportunities for their science learning needs nurturing in your elementary classroom too.
The new Next Generation Science Standards offer excellent guidance for elementary science http://www.nextgenscience.org/
Check out the Free NSTA Web Seminars and Web Seminar Archives for topics on NGSS Elementary level science.
Have fun exploring science with your young students!
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Thanks for sharing the useful information with the group!
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Dorothy, Thank you for sharing those resources! I'm always trying to find more engineering challenges and "Engineering is Elementary" has many that also relate to topics I teach.
I love using picture books even with older students. They love being read to.
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One small way to integrate thinking about science concepts into the day is to have a "Question of the Day" for children to consider and wonder about when they arrive and are settling down. Preschoolers who are dropped off by parents can do this together. I wrote about this practice that one school uses in The Early Years Blog: http://nstacommunities.org/blog/2015/04/29/ideas-from-visiting-another-classroom/
See the two attached photos for other examples of preschooler's responses to these questions.
Question_of_the_day_example_1.JPG (2.81 Mb)
Question_of_the_day_example_2.JPG (3.20 Mb)
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That's a great resource Margaret!
There is also a resource from "Mystery Science", called "Mystery Doug." There's a short video with an engaging question that Mystery Doug discusses. Here's the link: https://mysterydoug.com/
Thank you for posting this. I am also a student teacher and have experienced the same thing. My class only does science once a week for 1 hour. I am struggling to find ways to integrate it into other subjects too, since social studies is mainly integrated into reading and writing. Any help is appreciated!
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I tend to have the same problems too. I am student teaching at the moment and my teacher tends to skip science a lot of the time and we tend to focus more on math and english language arts. I would like to find out how I can incorporate science more into the curriculum as well.
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Hi there! I am also student-teaching at the moment and am in the same dilemma. My school has a strong emphasis on literacy and math, leaving little time for science. My guide teacher splits the time for science and social studies instruction. For example, one week may be focused on science and the next will be social studies. Another good idea is to integrate science with literacy as students still need to practice the same reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills across all subject areas. Good luck.
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I am currently student teaching in a kindergarten class. There are certain kindergarten science standards that still need to be taught by the end of the year. The students still go to a science class on collaboration days;however, we still do science in the classroom as well. What we do is after recess, we take about 30 minutes to teach science based on the NGSS. There are still many things you can do, even though the schools are taking science away from the curriculum. You can incorporate science in language arts. Reading informational texts related to science is also a good idea for younger students as well as older students.
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You can always integrate two subjects together, for example doing a read aloud with a science related book and doing a R/LA activity with that. Or in many science experiments, I have found that most of the time math is somehow involved. Besides this, a lot of good advice on the thread that I will also take into consideration for my future classroom!
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As a fellow student teacher I have to say thank you for asking this question! I am always wondering how different teachers have found way to incorporate science and social studies curriculum. What I have seen is the social studies/science block being divided between quarters, such that the first and third quarters science is taught and the second and fourth social studies is taught. Some of these methods mentioned were different from what I have seen, and i wonder how the effects would differ.
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The science curriculum in Thinking BIG Learning BIG integrates mathematics and language arts learning very thoroughly.
http://thinkingbiglearningbig.com/ The authors also listed trade books that are related to the topics.
Just like many student teachers, I have a hard time having time for science, especially when I wanted to do labs. Some lesson have to be split in 2 days, while my cooperating teacher as tried to integrate science and reading together. This helps prep the students for science. As they are having reading class, they are still gaining background knowledge on the science unit they are currently on.
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Hi there! I am also student-teaching at the moment and have found my self asking the same question, so thank you for asking your question! It is giving a lot of us student teacher a lot of insight! In the class I am student teaching in right now, all of the teachers have decided to switch of with social studies one month, and science the next month. Although this is not ideal, it is better than having no science instruction at all. Another idea that came to mind when asked this question is to find some sort of NGSS grade level observations that students could do for a period of time. For example, one of the the 3rd grade NGSS standards is to learn about weather patters. One of my ideas to incorporate science even just a little bit everyday is to have students start a weather journal and continue it every day for the first two quarters, or up until you weather unit! This way, they are still getting to observe science everyday ( even during the history month) and then you would be able to use their information throughout the unit on weather.For example, you could have them graph their data or look at the patterns that they found. I'm sure this could apply to a lot of different grade levels such as being able to observe plants or animals growing in the younger grades. I hope this helps! Good luck.
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Great question! I am currently student teaching in a second grade classroom. We do science and social studies at least three times a week. I find my guide teacher switching off between language arts and social studies or science. Most of our science is done through literacy, but we also have the students doing experiments like growing plants and disecting them. I often hear that some schools have taken out these subjects. It breaks my heart because students need to learn science and history. There are so many good ideas in this blog about how to incorporate science. I may have to use some in my future classroom.
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I am currently a student teacher. And the school I got placed does not have science in class. The only science we do is reading an article for literacy. How can you incopret science in the classroom while teaching students to read for literacy.
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Getting science in is sooo difficult and is a constant struggle of mine every semester. I usually have to end up doing science when I have students getting pulled out of school for reading and math support. So they end up missing activities! Another way I reach students through science is in our after school program. I teach student STEM activities and that way they have access to science curriculum. Good Luck! We just need more time.....maybe we should go to a Monday-Thursday school system to get science in and have three day weekends!!
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I believe it is extremely important to keep science and social studies in the curriculum. Even though these subjects aren't on standardized tests, they are still important for kids to learn about! One thing I would do is set aside at least a half hour or so a day for science. It may not have to be an entire class period but at least it's something! Another suggestion is to incorporate science into your reading and math time (cross curriculum, if you will).
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I agree. Especially since Science occurs every second, minute, hour, day, etc... Kids do mini Science experiments all the time and participate in the Scientific Process without even knowing it. They observe and use their senses all the time. From getting up in the morning and wondering what to wear for school to eating dinner and watching cartoons or a movie at night, they are making observations, predictions, inferences, analyzations and drawing conclusions. Science is needed to clear up their misconceptions of their wonderings and discoveries.
There should be some time in the day to do Science or Social Studies. Most school days consist of 6-7 hours of instruction. I don't believe that the kids are doing Reading, Writing, and Math for those hours 5 days a week. As a teacher, I'd be bored myself and wanting to teach something else.
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I have taught 3rd and 5th grades. You can teach science everyday by allotting a specific amount of time to each subject and sticking with those specific times every day. In 3rd grade, we had 45 minutes a day to teach science and in 5th grade we have 60 minutes to teach science. In 5th grade I was self contained so I allotted 60 min. for science, 30 min for social studies, 90 min for math, and 120 for ELA. I made sure to stick to those times to ensure I was teaching all of my subjects every day.
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And if your principal/district disagrees?
With NCLB and the emphasis on math/language arts, most of the districts around here alternate science and social studies ... 25 min every other day for a year OR 25 min a day for 1 semester. Other districts are confiscating science texts – I just read a TPA (teacher performance assessment, the final exam for teacher) at a district that does no science k-5, 6th grade is the first time her students ever saw science... District policy.
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NCLB? I thought that went away years ago. :-)
I can't believe Science is not being taught. Yes, there still is heavy emphasis on Language Arts and Math, but there should be some time in the day to do Science or Social Studies. Especially with the NGSS push and STEM careers, Science should be taught at least twice a week.
I've heard some teachers that were alternating Science and Social Studies every other quarter, which was tough to hear about because you can't just be putting N/A for a grade on the report card. I wouldn't even alternate weeks.
In that district with the policy of not doing Science throughout grades K-5, don't they get tested? 4th graders Nationwide take the Science test every year and also the NAEP every other year....crazy!
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I'm a preservice teacher, but I have seen project based learning incorporate several subjects together. I can see doing a STEM project could easily incorporate reading, math, and science together!
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