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I'm a pre-service teacher who is a little bit scared about teaching inquiry based science in the classroom! I would love to hear any advice you all have to give. What are some things you wish you knew before teaching elementary school science?
55 Activity Points
Kendall, no matter how much you know or how much you don't know, each class will respond differently. Practice hands on lessons with family if possible. Always plan for worst case scenario. Impress upon students that safety is the #1 concern. If something spills or breaks let the teacher know immediately so everyone can be kept safe. Go over all instructions before you allow them to gather materials. Have instructions posted so they can look back to remind themselves and their team. Be open to the questions students have that may not be what you had planned. It is okay not to know ALL of the answers. We were doing an earthquake experiment with shake tables in 5th grade last year. A student asked how there can be snow on top of a volcano when it's so hot. I had him ask the class and no one knew the answer. We wrote the question on the board and challenged the class the find the answer for the next day. Four students came with an answer the next day! As lifelong learners, that is a great situation to model for students because we don't know all the answers and we are open to their questions. Students teach us new things all of the time.
85979 Activity Points
I can understand your anxieties about inquiry-based learning but think of it as the most natural thing a child does! We adults just tend to get in the way of their inquiry by insisting that they do it our way or that they need to learn a bunch of facts and fill in some worksheets before they can use their curiosity. By just letting go of the idea that you need to be the expert you may be surprised what direction your class goes and what kind of questions students may have - simple but very powerful questions. i.e. "What colour are bacteria?" "Why do we fart?" I think one of the bravest things a teacher can say is, "I don't know!" to be followed up with "Let's figure that out!" Your job, then, is to provide the opportunity for students to ask questions and then explore them "scientifically". So, teach them about setting up fair tests, controlling variables, making objective observations, measuring and recording accurately, presenting their findings. You can teach these things as you and your students explore their questions as partners more than just you leading them along.
I wish I had learned more about 'letting go' and trusting in young minds to come up with interesting questions. Instead, I was a typical "stand and deliver" teacher until I let go.
Hope this helps,
2235 Activity Points
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