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I am currently student teaching in a first grade classroom. We usually teach science within the last 30 minutes of school. By that time, all of my students are already antsy, chatty, and ready to go home. I would appreciate for some advice on what to do to manage student behavior at this time while trying to get in a short but very important science lesson. What are some ways to keep my students engaged while they are starting to lose focus? Does anyone use any particular sites or books for tips on managing student behavior?
450 Activity Points
That last hour can be challenging especially as a new teacher. I taught science at the end of the day my first year of teaching and found it at the time to be disastrous. I've grown a lot as a teacher since then. I teach 3rd grade. Right now I teach science in midmorning.. usually right after recess. This way, they have some of the energy out and are ready to go. Make sure you establish routines right away. My students know to get out out their science journals right away and be ready to go for whatever the lesson or experiment may be. Do you use journals? Depending on the lesson, I sometimes do a BBK activity to introduce it (Building Background Knowledge). If you are doing a lesson on the rainforest for example.. I would have draw everything they know about rainforests.. Get them engaged right away. I've also done a mystery puzzle where they have to work in groups to put together a teacher made puzzle about the upcoming science lesson. For example, when I taught 1st, we did a unit on Bees. They had to put together a bee puzzle to figure out what we were going to study. To get the students attention I use enforceable statements.. "I will begin when it's quiet.."
Are you familiar with Love and Logic? This is what our school follows and I've attended two workshops on it as well. It truly is helpful. I'm attaching a link to some ideas.. but there are books you can look up as well.
2695 Activity Points
Thanks for the link. I am checking it out.
92329 Activity Points
Brenda has some great suggestions for you to change the time of day for your science lessons. I remember a research study which indicated that content that required the most concentration by students should be taught in the morning. Perhaps the last half hour of the day can be spent with ways to wrap up the day with stories about what happened, what they needed to gather to leave, and what would happen the next day.
44543 Activity Points
Yes, what Arlene said is true.
While my schedule varies from year to year and sometimes it's hard to fit things throughout the day due to specials schedule I do my best to put math and science in the morning. This year my schedule is so I have literacy and writing in the afternoon. It actually works out because I'm meeting with my guided reading groups and students all have their Daily 5 tasks to do. It's a more independent setting aside from my mini lesson at the beginning of the hour. I also set high expectation and have them build on their stamina early in the year. It works well with the end of the day.
I also have had art and computer lab time to do Reflex Math and Reading Plus (two computer programs) the last half hour of the day. On Fridays I do student of the week sharing.
Since you are a student teacher perhaps the schedule is out of your control. When you have your own class though, take all of this into consideration. I learned a lot my first year of teaching.. it's all a learning experience.
I am a preservice teacher in a 4th-grade classroom. I am in the same boat as you. The classroom I am in is self-contained and science is on our schedule for the last 45 minutes of the day. The kids are ready for the day to be over and go home. It is crucial to try to make the best of the time we have. Hands-on activities (foldables, exploring, researching) are what works best for my classroom. It keeps them busy, and they forget it is the end of the day. You should give it a try to see if it works out for your students. Arlene's advice about changing the schedule is good to keep in mind once I have my own classroom. Best of luck!
990 Activity Points
I agree with what has been said here. We aren't always able to change our schedules so the next best thing is to engage the students like, Nayell, said.
I try to keep some fast and easy demos to do at the beginning of each unit. Without explaining the demo I do this right at the beginning of class and everyone is anxious to see what will happen. (Check out some Steve Spangler videos and learn and few of the things he does.) Whatever the demo is done, it will be related to the content we are working on. As they question what happened, why, how, they write it on the board. Students know to write it in their journals (because I have set that expectation and reinforced it since day 1.) Students may not yell out guesses. They use a scratch piece of paper and write down what they think happened, then if they want a prize, they have to research it at home. They bring their answer back the next day and hand me the piece of paper. I read it and nod yes or no. We don't discuss it until science. Then, however many students bring in the correct answer with proof get to pick a prize from my prize pile. I have a basket with inexpensive science related stuff in it. Dollar store solar powered dancers, reptiles that grow in water to 100X their size(yeah right), small keychain flashlights, stuff like that. I also use their responses later in the week when we get to the Elaborate part of the 5E's.
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