Early Childhood

classroom management during experiments

When performing experiments in the classroom, what are some strategies and or methods that will help maintain appropriate classroom behavior? 

Selena Martinez
Selena Martinez
190 Activity Points

I am a student at the University of Northern Iowa. One way that we have talked about or I have observed is to make sure that the expectations are explicitly explained to the children before the beginning of the experiment. With conducting the experiment, if it is something that the students are conducting, it is very important for them to know what they are supposed to find out or what they are going to be looking for or what they are planning on finding out with their experiment. Allowing for the students to have more control of the experiment may have them more interested in conducting the experiment rather than messing around and getting rowdy during the science lesson time. Good Luck! :)

Keela Uhlenkamp
Keela Uhlenkamp
1860 Activity Points

Selena, First and foremost, I believe it is important to establish clear expectations with your students. I feel that you should let them know from the beginning what you are expecting out of your students and if and/or what consequences they will face if they do not meet these expectations. Discussing safety is also very important. Have you completed any experiments with your students yet, and if so, what are some strategies you used that worked for you?

Nicolette Hale
Nicolette Hale
415 Activity Points

Hi Selena. I am currently a student teacher in a second grade classroom. When I was creating my 5E science lesson pla, my professor wanted us to think of all the safety rules that we should go over with the students to make sure no accidents happen. I believe it is very important to let the students know the rules before doing the activity and why we have these rules. To make sure you have “attention grabbers” to get the students attention then yelling over them. To help maintain an appropriate behavior you can make sure you have all the materials you need for the activity/lesson and make sure it’s where it needs to be.

Carolina Olvera
Carolina Olvera
415 Activity Points

Hi Selena! I am currently a student teacher in a math and science classroom, and I get the chance to watch my mentor teacher enforce the most effective classroom management skills I have ever seen. She uses positive reinforcement constantly. The school I am at has a reward system where they give "merits" and "demerits" for behavior. These are backed up by a system where if students accumulate a certain amount of merits, they can choose to spend them in the classroom "store" or save them for a special privilege. My mentor says things out loud to the class like "I appreciate how ___ is following my instructions, I am going to give them a merit." or "These students are showing patience as they wait for the next activity quietly, I will give them a merit." Sometimes it is while some students are off tasks, so they will redirect their actions so that they can also receive merits. If it doesn't help, she will give demerits after fair warning. Another really great technique is giving access to science experiment materials after modeling and giving explicit instructions on what they are expected to do with them. First, tell them what to do, then tell them the voice level you expect them to be at. Showing appreciation for those that followed instructions constantly. I hope this helps! Good luck!

Bianca Balderas
Bianca Balderas
840 Activity Points

Posted rules and rewards always work for me.  I also use a digital timer on the board to let students know how long they have to work.  If the students are required to take notes in the journal, it helps to keep them focused as well.

Toneka Bussey
Toneka Bussey
1928 Activity Points

Hi Selena,

Going over classroom expectations prior to the start of an activity is very important, especially when students will be completing an experiment where not following rules can lead to safety concerns.  With this being mentioned, I would suggest going over safety rules and behavioral expectations using a puppet.  You can have the students act out what happens when rules are followed and when rules are not followed using the puppet.  This presents the information in an entertaining way that students will most likely better remember.  During the activity, you can use students who are engaging in appropriate behavior as models for other students.  This will not only make the model student feel proud of himself/herself, but will also encourage other students to engage in appropriate behavior so that they, too, can be recognized.  Also, some issues may arise if students will be working with new materials that they have never handled/seen before.  They may feel “itchy” to play with the materials during inappropriate times during the experiment.  Therefore, perhaps you can have them engage in free-play (if applicable) where they have a few minutes to just explore the materials.

Hope this helps,

Melissa        

Melissa Biddinger
Melissa Biddinger
435 Activity Points

Hi Selena! I am a student at the University of Northern Iowa and classroom management is actually one of my favortie topics I like to discuss! First and foremost we need to realize that there is a HUGE different between managing a class of Kindergarteners and managing a class of 7th graders. Even though the strategies may be different, making sure the class is under control during science experiements is extremily important for the safety of all students. That is actually one thing to mention to the class before engaging in the activity. It is important to go over expectations and norms for the activities before the students do them, and they should also know that these expectations are to keep them safe. When going over the norms beforehand, having the studetns help you create a list is a great way to get student input and to make sure everyone is paying attention during the discussion. When doing the experiements, it is imporant to remind students that they are getting an opportunity to use the materials given to them, and if they are misbehaving or putting the safety of others at risk, they can lose that opportunity. I hope this helps a little bit even though there is so much that actually goes into classroom management. I have pasted a link below from the Next Gen Lesson Plan website that talks about classroom management that may have more information to help you!

 

https://www.ngsslifescience.com/science.php/science/classroom_management_strategies

Annika Amundson
Annika Amundson
2645 Activity Points

I am an Elementary Education major at the University of Northern Iowa. I would say the best approach to a managed classroom in accordance to science content would be to keep the students involved and interested. Have students formulate questions based on what they want to learn. Have classroom discussions where rules and expectations are set in order for everyone to talk and share their experiences to one another and to allow other students to gain outside perspective. From the outside looking in, it could be really easy to think that a science experiment would be chaotic, however, I think as teachers we need to embrace this chaos. Students learn more when they use the relevancy of newly processed information to talk about with other students. Students around the classroom are going to do different things based on how they proceed with their experiments or testable questions. Overall, the point I am meaning to get across is that the best method for classroom management would be a well structured lesson plan/ curriculum plan for the content.

Kyle Skillings
Kyle Skillings
4340 Activity Points

Hello Selena,

 

For early childhood students, I think simple is best. So for classroom management during experiments, you could maybe try singing a song that gets your students attention. You could even ring a chime that would get students' attention and have them do hands up so they can listen to the instructions that you are going to give. If for some reason, you need to redirect a student, I would do it immediately but still do it in a loving but firm manner. 

Keyerra Stapleton
Keyerra Stapleton
285 Activity Points

One idea for you.  If you create specific jobs for each member of a group during a exploration such as: photographer, measurer, recorder, etc.  This gives them responsibility and keeps the more active students from "taking-over" an exploration.  You should lay out the discriptions for each of the roles that they may recieve.  Students should be encouraged not to be upset if they don't get the job that they were hoping for.  Hope this helps! Good luck!

-Hannah

Hannah Tweedy
Hannah Tweedy
2810 Activity Points

I think it is very important to state expectations before starting the experiement. Students can't read minds, so making sure that they know what they are suppose to be doing at all times is a great start. It also doesn't hurt to give some reminders throughout the experiment students can get excited and forget what they are suppose to be doing. It is also important for you as the teacher to make sure you are following the expectations because you are a role model for your students, they are watching you and will do what you do. Overall I think encorporating experiments in the classroom is a great idea because it can really paint a picture for students, but safty is the main concern and it is important to make sure the students know that.

Macie Ault
Macie Ault
3360 Activity Points

Hello, I am student teaching in a second-grade classroom and one things that works great for me is explaining the expectations EVERY time the students will begin an experiment. Even if they have done it 100 times before this helps them refresh their memory and they have set expectations about how they are to treat our materials, what voice level to use, etc. Once the expectations are set the students can begin their experiment. Another strategy I have seen is giving each table a yellow,red, and green cup (stacked). You explain to the students that if they are stuck on any part of the experiment and they have no idea what to do that they are to put the red cup on top. This tells the teacher to go over to help them. If the students place a yellow cup on top it states that they are struggling, but figuring it out, and a green cup means they understand and have no questions. I found that this best works 3-5 grade better than younger ones. This helps from having every student yell across the classroom when they need help.

Gladys Gonzalez
Gladys Gonzalez
610 Activity Points

Gladys, I totally agree with you! Even with 4th and 5th graders, we go over safety procedures every time we do an experiment/lab. We review jobs and expectations for each group. I love the cup strategy!!! I need to borrow that!

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
91984 Activity Points

I am a student teacher as well and agree 100% with you! Never assume your students know what you're expectations are for any activity or experiment. No matter the grade or activity, students need to know what you expect from them at the start.

Kaylee Nungaray
Kaylee Nungaray
3394 Activity Points

Gladys,


I’m currently a student at the University of Northern Iowa, and my Science Methods classmates and I recently visited a mock classroom that is available to us in our education building. It’s set up as an elementary classroom would be with all sorts of stimulating stations and hands-on activities for children to experiment with. As we entered the room, the first thing I thought of was safety and how I would allow students to explore while also making sure they’re always safe. According to the article Science and Literacy Centers by Beth Dykstra Van Meeteren and Lawrence T. Escalada, “In recent years, science has taken a backseat to reading and mathematics in many primary classrooms.” I feel as though this may be the case because many times science is more difficult to have enough time for along with the safety risks that it comes with. In order to really allow students to explore their curiosity and investigate on their own, they need to get their hands dirty and experiment without so much guidance. Going over expectations and safety is SO important just like you said. I also love the cup idea! It’s impossible for the teacher to be at every group the entire time, but students could simply let the teacher know if they need help or if they’re doing just fine.

Cassie Elbert
Cassie Elbert
3345 Activity Points

Hello, I am a student teacher and I am currently in a second grade class. What I have seen that works is having CHAMPS. This helps them to know what the teacher is expecting from them when doing not only science experiments but all kinds of classroom and school expectations. One of the schools that i observed at was all about CHAMPS and students were expected to follow them at all times and for this school it worked. Also my teacher always explains carefully what she is expecting from each child and gives examples of how each instrument should be handled. They also go over the class rules. For example: Never run in the classroom and always ask for permission to get out of your seats. She makes it clear that if they have a question they are to always raise their hand for assistance. In second grade the students don't really do much experiments most of them are modeled by the teacher and then the students are to record their data. So my teacher always makes sure each child gets the most out of it by making it fun and interactive but also keeping it safe.

Miriam Luna
Miriam Luna
495 Activity Points

Miriam, if you get a chance, observe other teachers and see how they manage their class. We all have different methods and I am thankful you are with someone who has good classroom management. I'd like to suggest you read a post under New Teachers, where a teacher, who teaches 2nd grade, did a weather project with her class. She incorporated cross curricular content and the students had a choice when presenting. I taught 2nd grade for 12 years and that age group is very open and excited to do hands on science. I realize that we have to go slow with them at first and review rules and expectations with very simple, perhaps even recipe-like experiments, but before November, you will have a small crew of super scientists to work with!

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
91984 Activity Points

Miriam, I'm sorry, it is in Elementary Science- Weather Project.

Pamela Dupre
Pamela Dupre
91984 Activity Points

Hi Selena, It is important to make sure your students know the safety expectations when conducting an experiment. If your school has school-wide rules to follow, you can ask students to tell you what they are before beginning the experiment. As the students are experimenting, never assume the students do not need any help and be consistent in scaffolding throughout the experiment to answer any questions. I am a student teacher and still learning about classroom management. Everyone who commented previously gave great advice which I will be taking into consideration myself.

Nayeli Salas
Nayeli Salas
990 Activity Points

One of the main things I have found is making sure the students know the expectations before starting the experiment! Setting expectations and making the students are aware of possible consequences beforehand is very helpful in keeping them on task during the experiments. Also, constant redirection and scanning the classroom is a great classroom management technique to keep in mind. Another great strategy to implement would be to point out when you see positive behavior!

Aleena Naqvi
Aleena Naqvi
370 Activity Points

When performing experiments in the classroom, what are some strategies and or methods that will help maintain appropriate classroom behavior?

Hi Selena,

One strategy that you can use is to set up the scene for the experiment. If they will be using scientific tools it would be a great way to let them know that those are tools that scientists use. This will make them feel as scientists and they will try to be on their best behavior as scientists stay on task.

Hope this helps!

Brenda Rivera
Brenda Rivera
605 Activity Points

Hi Selena. Recently, I experienced this similar problem when I tried to teach a lesson on sound energy and felt overwhelmed with classroom management. My suggestion is to constantly remind students they are scientist and must respect the tools they are using and remind them of lab safety. I just remind students to stay on task and if they are not respectful then they cannot participate in the fun. It can be tiresome because we just want the experiment and lesson to be fun and successful. Hope it helps.

Anna Snowden
Anna Snowden
320 Activity Points

Hello Selena! Some tips I would say dealing with classroom management during experiments, is first setting expectations. This is always crucial, always set your expectations to your students. Also, constant reminders of what you expect of them is never a bad thing. Children always need to be redirected no matter what age. Another would be knowing your students well, knowing what they can be responsible for. Walk around and monitor your students, and engage in conversation with them. If you know a group of students always needs redirection, stay in close proximity and let them be aware you see them. Finally, knowing good transitions is key if you're doing workstations in your science lesson! Hope this helps and good luck!

Kohleen Mendoza
Kohleen Mendoza
650 Activity Points

Hello, Some of the things I do when we are doing an experiment is tell the students the expectations ahead of time. For example, on one occasion we were working on procedural text and we made lemonade. I was prepared for misbehavior when I passed out the ingredients, therefore I told the students my expectations before I passed out anything. When I passed everything out I had to remind them once again to not touch anything. Children need directions and reminders. If I did see misbehavior , I would stop the lesson and tell the students we can't move forward with our fun lesson because so and so is doing something they're not supposed to be doing.

Angelica Munoz
Angelica Munoz
320 Activity Points

I agree with Carolina that what really helps maintain children’s interest and attentive behavior is having a system for calling children to attention (chime, clap, other signal), and having all the materials needed for an exploration or investigation at hand so you don’t have to interrupt the flow. Stating expectations is very helpful.

I agree with Keela that “allowing for the students to have more control of the experiment may have them more interested in conducting the experiment rather than messing around and getting rowdy during the science lesson time.” Consider adding in some time for students to “mess about” with the materials or phenomena before the teacher-directed experiment so they learn all they can from their own ideas and actions (within safe limits set ahead of time). By having this prior exploration time they may be better able to attend to an experiment where they follow specific instructions. 

See the NSTA Early Years February 25, 2018 blog post for more information on this kind of “messing about:” Explore, investigate, experiment, and inquire: What do we call it when young children “do” science? http://nstacommunities.org/blog/2018/02/25/explore-investigate-experiment-and-inquire-what-do-we-call-it-when-young-children-do-science/ 

Building relationships over time with every child will make the group activities go more smoothly. Preservice teachers, you can expect to have more effective classroom management strategies in your future classrooms.

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
8675 Activity Points

Hi! I am a student at the University of Northern Iowa to become an elementary/middle level teacher. A have many field experences and one thing I have learned from my mentor teachers is to do positive reinforcements and have a behavior chart of some sort. My level 2 field experience teacher has tallies and if students had so many tallies they had to stay in from recess just to talk to her, more tallies would mean an email to parents, and even more tallies would be a visit to the principle and a phone call to parents. She also made sure instructions were post somewhere in the room or on a personal paper to make sure students knew what they need to get done so they did not just sit there, wondering what to do  next. 

Carisa Meyer
Carisa Meyer
2780 Activity Points

Selena,

The first thing you must do is address appropriate classroom behavior and expectations. To keep students on track I would give them a worksheet to fill out that allows them to write what is happening throughout the experiment. Not only is this a good tool for you to see if they are staying on track but it is also a good tool for them to look back on and see what happened during thier experiment. 

Good Luck!

-Brianna Parker

Brianna Parker
Brianna Parker
235 Activity Points

Classroom management is one of the hardest things to control and be an expert at in the classroom. When doing science experiements, I have learned it is more important to keep all students engaged and interested in what is being done. Not to have several students just standing around, try and involve all students. Secondly I belive when trying to manage students, especially young ones, it is important to spend the first three weeks only on expectations and what you expect of them, with everything from these experiments to how to blow there noses. It really seems to pay off when you spend time on this, practice, model, and reinforce these every single day. Hope this helps. 

Molly Karr
Molly Karr
2985 Activity Points

I really think that all of these suggestions are great. i also have struggled with direction and restructuring during and after the experiments. I also think that the best way is setting clear guidlines and expectations before and during the experiments. 

Christy Beatty
Christy Beatty
305 Activity Points

Hi Selena.

This is a great topic to bring it up because it's very important to think about during experiments that involve materials that the students might not be used to or know how to handle. The first thing to do is when planning for the lesson make sure that the students know there are clear expectations of what to do and what not to do during the activity/ experiment.  Also going over the safety rules before the lesson is huge. Tell the students you care about their safety and want to make sure each student is safe during the lesson. I think that also have a poster up in the classroom about the expectations you have of the students during these activities is a good way to help remind students what you expect of them, and if you see a student struggling with this you can redirect them to the poster as a warning. Also having a poster up of the safety rules would be helpful too. Making sure the students know what is expected of them and how to stay safe is your number one priority, and also make sure the students know that safety is their number one priority as well. 

Kate Campbell
Kate Campbell
1820 Activity Points

Hi Selena.

I am an early childhood education major at Wright State University. In my opinion, establishing clear and and explicit expectations with students is a key component to the success of the lesson. When explaining safety rules, I think it is imperative to also explain to students why safety rules are necessary. With young children, it is more likely that students may respond to rules positively if they truly understand why the rules are in place. Practicing the rules and expectations prior to completing the activity is also huge. Repetition and consistency play a huge role in successful classroom management. If students have an opportunity to practice the expectations and visually understand what is expected of them, they will be more comfortable when completing the experiment. I like the ideas presented in previous comments as well. Providing students with visual reminders of safety rules and expectations in the form of a poster is a great idea. If a student begins to come off track, you can reference the poster and allow that student a moment to collect themselves and remind them of the expectations. 

Sara Whitehead
Sara Whitehead
1275 Activity Points

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