Teaching for Understanding: Bridging the gap between student understanding and state and national tests and standardsby: Deborah C. Smith and Ann Wesley

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Elementary science teaching is under increasing scrutiny. Some teachers may feel caught between state and national standards and tests of children’s understanding of science. What happens when contradictions arise between “teaching to the test” and teaching for understanding? This article examines this issue and describes how the authors conducted a study in collaboration with a local university to help bridge the gap in student understanding and achievement.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (2)
  • on Fri May 09, 2014 12:16 PM

Educators in an elementary school realized that students in 5th grade had to understand science concepts, perform well on state and national tests, without having completely understanding science concepts that may or may not have been acquired during grades K-4th grade. Teachers During the school year, the teachers in different grades co planned and co-taught a fifth-grade classroom, as a part of the regular work of the science study group. The article outlines what they did and learned teaching a unit on plants.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Fri May 18, 2012 1:59 PM

This article showed how one teacher, with the help of a university professional development program, identified students’ misconceptions about food chains and plant growth and development in a fifth grade classroom. In the process, a mismatch was uncovered that existed between that state’s science standards and the national science standards for K-4th grade life science. With the New Generation Science Standards (NGSS) going through its first public draft (as of May 18, 2012), one can only hope that states will come onboard so that these kinds of disconnects will be things of the past. From a pretest that this 5th grade teacher administered, she discovered that here students were not ready to learn about photosynthesis yet, since they still didn’t understand that plants were producers in a food chain or how plants functioned and reproduced. The process used to uncover and reteach science concepts that should have been learned in previous years is provided in detail. It is an excellent article for elementary teachers to read if they are wondering how to begin a unit on plants.

Carolyn M  (Buffalo Grove, IL)
Carolyn M (Buffalo Grove, IL)

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