After taking this class, I realized that science at our school is not as important as reading, writing and math. We do not spend that much time on science nor social studies for that matter. The time for science is minimal. We give science about 30 minutes and it is not everyday. We need more time to teach science. Science should take more than just 30 minutes. Also, it should be everyday not every other day. If we want our students to compete with the global world, the schools and teachers need to push for more science in the classroom!
I understand the importance of reading and writing, but it is important to teach social studies and science as well. We have been talking about integrating other subjects with science and social studies. That is a great idea, but I would like to learn more about that!
Even when my class has had the opportunity to learn about science and social studies, it has been through the use of worksheets.
I am thankful to be student teaching at a school that values science. We have science class every day, and the students seem to be engaged in the lesson. We do lots of experimenting and use science interactive notebooks. We need to be incorporating science as much as we include math, reading, and writing. This subject should not be overlooked!
I agree completely, but how do you convince teachers and administrators to support this?
I just happened to come across your post, and it was something that I had just noticed the other day. I substitute teach while I am working on my certification, and I noticed that science is almost over looked in a lot of elementary classrooms. Some schools only allow for 30 min every other day. I was in one classroom where I had to teach a lesson on motion in 30 minutes right after recess while every student in the class needed a water/bathroom break! On the positive side I have seen teachers integrate science in other lessons throughout the day. Also I have seen schools devote much more time ( an hour every other day or 45 minutes a day) to science lessons. I like the idea of using 2-3 week lesson blocks that could alternate with social studies. At least that way you can focus on something specific over a period of time. Thanks again for the topic.
I agree that there is much emphasis placed on the other subjects which is why it is important to make sufficient time in our own classrooms in order for students to be able to explore much of the learning available with science and social studies.
I agree with you. Although a strong emphasis is put on reading and math, science is crucial for students to learn about everyday and to be able to incorporate scientific knowledge into their everyday life. Science is implemented into every aspect of our social,cultural and environmental being. Students need to be able to realize this at an early age. Students also need to be able to write about their findings and discoveries from a scientific perspective.
I believe this is a nation-wide occurrence.....sadly!
I agree! I am a student teacher and we talked about this in my methods class before. At the school I am at most of the teachers in my grade level don't really value science, if they can get to it great if not they will eventually teach something by the end of the week. I am glad my teacher actually appreciates our science time even though its only 30 minutes. We try are best to have some hands-on activities for the students to do rather than just worksheet after worksheet. So far we have had hands-on and real life connection activities for the students to do for science. They love it and they look forward to doing science because they also ask us what we will be doing for science.
Even though there is such a limited amount of time for science I think we as future teachers and current teachers should always find ways to try to make it work out and for the students to truly learn the concepts.
I am currently finishing up my last semester of student teaching for my undergraduate career in a kindergarten classroom. And, I have found myself to be in a similar situation. Although my cooperating teacher has allotted 50 minutes for science instruction before it is time to dismiss the students for the school day, there are some days where, unfortunately, absolutely zero instruction takes place. Other times, we may only be able to fit in about 20 minutes or so of science instruction. However, because we tend to spend an entire week learning about and expanding on one particular concept (i.e. different sources of energy- light, heat, sound), we are often able to combine multiple lessons into a single day. Also, because we tend to only teach through 15-20 minute mini-lessons, there is typically time left over for students to explore and participate in hands-on activities such as finding different sources of energy around the room.
Based on my experience, I have started to realize that some days, it may very well be impossible to teach every single content area in the certain amount of time. However, that doesn't mean that you should ignore that subject or content area completely. As most people have already said, it might be a good idea to integrate science into subjects that do get taught every day such as language arts. Find literature that specifically pertains to a particular science concept that you will have to teach. Incorporate scientific terminology into your daily vocabulary. Simply put, try to find different ways to talk about science, even if it has to be done informally. Science is everywhere!
Yes I know this is a major factor in schools now days. Math and reading are the stressors of importance only and there is not enough time in the day to reach all subjects. I know there are multiple ways to incorporate science in math and reading lessons.
In my opinion the way to make more time to teach science is to integrate lessons.
I agree with your idea 100%. As a future educator I believe we as teachers are responsible for teaching every subject thoroughly. I am not saying to neglect all the other subject and just focus on science. But, I am saying stop emphasizing the importance of reading and math only. Every subject is crucial to be knowledgeable in it. Especially with all of the extra FCAT, the students will need to know more than the "scientific method" to pass the science portion. So, next time teachers should think again before they skip their science lesson.
It will be a great day when teachers can teach reading ,writing, and math through science and social studies. Students need to have context for thier learning.
You make a valid point, and from the number of responses in agreement with your post, I think it is evident that this is a problem nation-wide. In light of high stakes testing, the emphasis is on teaching reading and math. Because many districts require teachers to spend a significant portion of their day teaching literacy and math blocks, it can be difficult to incorporate subjects like science, social studies, art, etc into the daily curriculum.
The key is to find creative ways to incorporate science (social studies, art, etc) into other curricular areas. NSTA has several resources that can help teachers develop effective cross-curriuclar lessons. Here are a few of my favorite resources:
Picture Perfect Science Lessons: http://learningcenter.nsta.org/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/9781938946899
Integrating Engineering and Science into Your Classroom: http://learningcenter.nsta.org/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/9781936959631
Science the "Write" Way: http://learningcenter.nsta.org/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/9781936959976
Activities Linking Science and Math: http://learningcenter.nsta.org/product_detail.aspx?id=10.2505/9781936959976
There are many other resources that offer valuable ideas for developing cross curricular lessons, but these are my favorite "go to" resources.
I completely agree with you. I have been at my school for almost two weeks and there has not been one science lesson. I think it is really important that science is more prevalent in our schools. Science can be a good creative outlet for the students and they can learn a lot about how the world works by learning science,
I completely agree. I am student teaching this semester and it seems that more often than not, the science lesson just gets pushed back and overlooked for the sake of finishing the math or reading lesson that day. Last week, there was just 1 science lesson for the entire week. The kids absolutely loved it and I know they benefited from it as well. I can only think how much they would benefit from consistent science instruction. My cooperating teacher tries very hard to fit it in by integrating it with the reading lesson for the day, but that doesn't always happen.
It seems to me that science really doesn't get the attention it needs until students are in grades that are departmentalized and no longer self contained (3rd and up in my district). That's the only way I can see that students are guaranteed a science lesson.
I agree that science is not given the appropriate time during a regular school day. I believe that when standardized testing comes into the picture subjects like science and social studies get the boot. I believe that if standardized wouldn't be so stressful on both our teachers and students, the time in the classroom can be divided equally to provide our students with enough time to learn about science.
I definitely agree of the fact that science is important. Every School is supposed to have science no matter what grade level you teacher. Without science, how will students know where trees and plants comes from. Now these days, I've seen students do more reading, writing, and math in the classroom and some science. Some school has science as an out class.
I totally and completely agree! We are fortunate that at our school we teach science each and everyday the problem is that we only get between 30-45 minutes and it's simply not enough time. Students have a hard time with the vocabulary and concepts often and 30-45 minutes just simply does not allow them the time to process the information as needed. I would like to see each and every subject valued the same. Our students must take standardized test in nearly every subject (I am teaching 5th grade) and this includes science.
I agree that science is extremely important to promote in classrooms. However, I also agree that every subject (math, English/language arts, social studies, science, art, music) are all equally important to teach. There is never going to be enough time in the day for teachers. Every minute of the day needs to be planned out. This includes planning for transitions, bathroom breaks, snack, etc.
An easy way to fit all subjects into your classroom is by integrating lessons. I am currently a student and am in the semester right before my student teaching. Throughout my college career, I have learned a lot about integrating lessons. It's actually a lot easier than it seems!
For example, when teaching a science lesson, read a book to introduce it! Ask questions to spark student's learning while reading. There's some reading. Taking measurements in science is also doing math. Have students create a poster board or another creative way to present their findings (there's your art).
It is a lot easier than what it seems to integrate lessons. I suggest findings books that are relevant to the topic being taught and introducing your lesson that way. Integrating lessons also makes it easier to plan. You can knock out two subjects in just a few lessons.
Happy teaching! =)
We are departmentalized in 5th grade, so for 20 years I have been "just" a science teacher. However, last year I was assigned to teach ELA two periods a day and the other periods remained science classes for my homeroom and two other homerooms. I won't lie I grumbled a lot at first, but what I discovered what that I could use science as the focus for teaching reaching and writing. For instance, we read Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George, which led to a research project on the Arctic Tundra, which lead to the students writing their own adventure stories using the flora and fauna of that environment. I actually gained two extra science periods a day!
I completely agree with you! Science is such an important subject that I feel it is overlooked. I just recently watched a video that interviewed Harvard college graduates on what causes the seasons to change. To my surprise, the majority of the students had a misconception about the topic. To me this proves that science is either not taught well in order for students to understand the topic thoroughly or that science is overlooked and not deemed as important. Both of these are disappointing to consider, and as a pre-service it my duty to integrate science daily in order to benefit the future of my students. .
I completely agree. I find science most interesting and most important! Science is all around us and gives explanations for questions in our everyday world. I am a student teacher, and I found ways to sneak in more science through different subjects. In guided reading times or literacy lessons, I would choose science topics give the students more science instruction! It was more fun for me to teach the literacy lesson, and the students always enjoy the content. Its a win win.
Great point. I think that we are dooming our children to a less open and rich job future by limiting the amount of science instruction in our younger grades. It appears that many elementary teachers are uncomfortable with the science concepts and as a result are reluctant to teach the class as often as it should be. Science is the answer to the earth's problems, but it may be in competition to capitalism.
Thanks for the post.
I hope you can hear my applause. I am clapping to celebrate your post because what you said is so very true. I think quality science instruction needs at least 45 -60 minutes each day. The piece that we need to help our administrators understand is that science instruction includes the opportunity for reading and writing and sometimes mathematics. So part of that hour would be spent writing in the scientist notebook. That might include a labeled diagram ( a model ), a data chart that the student made to record the data collected and an explanation. The explanation could be built using the claims,evidence and reasoning framework. The two balls are different because one is made of rubber and one is plastic.
There might be a piece of text that you ask the students to read about size being a properties of matter. Reading the text is a perfect follow up to an investigation.
Students might then talk with each other about the investigations and the text they read and they might revise their initial claim or add more detail to their reasoning.
While doing this students would be learning science and addressing the ELA and/ or mathematics.
I hope this is helpful.
I agree! I am going to try to incorporate more science and math during my language arts block. I think it is important to blur the lines between our content areas. In that way students will see that the world is so inter-connected.
I love the idea of science notebooks! It is a way for students to organize their data/observations. It is also a great way for students to practice organizing this data. You can have individual students share their notebooks with the class so other students gain ideas of how to set up their own science notebooks.
Student's may also refer back to their science notebooks for other lessons. For example, when taking measurements in science, you can integrate that information into a math lesson.
Science notebooks are great to use in the classroom.
Most of us read to learn--about characters, places, times, and themes in literature (or to enjoy a good story) or for information from non-fiction works (which we also can enjoy!). Most of us use mathematics to solve problems and explain relationships. Science, social studies, the arts, and PE allow students to use and apply what they learn in reading and math to real-world situations. Focusing on the skills of reading and math with no way of applying or using them is counter-productive, IMHO, unless your goal is a high standardized test score.
I agree with you. I personally believe that using science as the basis for everything you do will assist students in all other disciplines. For struggling students I believe there is research to support "integration."
Basic reading and writing skills are important to learn but integrating Science as the topic of their reading can allow them to practice Science and improve their reasoning skills. I agree teachers could integrate Science and Social Studies into those "real-world situations" and improve their learning in multiple subjects instead of just reading and writing. It is important to have a well rounded education so students still need to learn characters, places, fiction and non fiction material, but integrating Science can benefit them in the future as well as the present.
With Georgia moving to the CCRPI statewide school "report card" system, in which all areas "count" towards a schools overall score, we have had to really think about how to give Science the time it deserves so our students can perform at the expected levels consistently.
In the past, we have tended to focus more energy toward Math and Reading, since those scores counted the most in grades 3, 5, and 8 for promotion and retention purposes.
Like others know, a well written Science curriculum (or STEM design challenges) can easily cover most, if not all, other academic areas.
All the best,
Thanks for all the comments. Time is a problem. To some extent we are attempting to help in the NSF-funded "Teachers Helping Teachers Teach Inquiry science: ASK" project. We encourage teachers to adapt science lessons to "teach more than science." We find that teachers and administrators are willing to devote more time to science if it teaches more than science. Check us out our shared lessons (both text and videos) at http://justaskateacher.com. Our most recent newsletter is attached.
I can certainly agree with you, I don't think an adequate amount of time is given to teaching science. On this same note it seems as thought Science is given less emphasis and importance. New standards (Common Core) were released focusing primarily on English and Math. I can certainly see how Science can be incorporated into both English and Math, but this does not mean that Science should take a backseat to these content or focus areas. Once again I agree wholeheartedly with you and wish you the best in your teaching career.
Just getting my feet wet in the teaching field having just got into the classroom as part of my teaching program. For an assignment we were tasked with observing a science lesson no easy task and as it appeared roughly a month into school this happened to be their first science lesson for the popular reading, math, and writing take precedence over social studies and science. I am definitely for blurring the lines between the subjects and using the opportunity to use science and social studies topics as the material to improve reading.
I so agree with you. I am working with teachers to help develop units, instructional sequences that start with the big concepts like the cross-cutting concepts of NGSS which cross many disciplines. For example: Cause and Effect could be instructed/applied in Science,ELA, Mathematics, Social Studies and probably more. So as elementary teacher I would be thinking about that as I begin my planning for the year. I might be teaching 3rd grade force and motion where cause and effect relationships are routinely identified, tested, and used to explain change. This is certainly applicable in social studies and ElA. There are some excellent resources available to support integration across disciplines. One is Creating Standards-Based Curricula.
Back to that 3rd grade , I am going to share something that was created by a group of VT educators working together around the topic of force and motion. It is an example of what can be done when we are willing to blur those lines.
Forces_and_Interactions_Performance_Task.pdf (0.83 Mb)
I am hopeful that, with the nation-wide movement toward common core standards, that science will be recognized as the "missing link" in elementary curriculums!
A few years ago, I was able to build a "buddies" program in which my high school sophomores when down to a fourth grade science class and taught a science lesson to their elementary buddy twice a month...what an amazing experience! As we all know, you learn through teaching (which the high schoolers did!), but you also gain communication skills and confidence! The elementary students looked forward to learning science and seeing their buddies... the program was amazing! Sadly, budget cuts and lack of "field trip" money, forced its demise :-(
David & Kathy, I just downloaded the link that Kathy provided and was very pleased with the structure of the content. I think it would also, with a little modification, be able to be used at the 6th grade level. I love these forums. You can find such valuable information that you might normally never run across.
Science is important. I am frustrated about how little science is incorporated in the classroom as well. As teachers we should try harder to incorporate it into kids curriculum.
I am a firm believer that all core subjects are equally important for everyone to know. A school or class should not devote more time on one subject than another. I am sorry you are facing such a situation like this. You know I grew up when science was taught from a textbook and just answering questions. But if people can just take time to each it properly and make it engaging just like other subject it would truly make a difference.
I think I lived your life in respect to the way science was taught. it was in the early 90s when I was first introduced to inquiry. At that time I had been teaching many years. I wanted to make science different for the students who were placed in my classroom. So I became a sponge, I sought out , learned and absorbed everything I could. Thank you NSTA for being there for when I needed resources.
With NGSS and NSTA , we have an opportunity to provide quality science instruction where proficiency in literacy and mathematics can also be realized.
Let's all work together to make this happen!
I could not agree more! We do not spend enough time teaching science and allowing for investigation.
Science is extremely important and I wish all the school systems across the nation gave science the importance it has. I have been fortunate in a way this year, my Principal finally recognized that the problem the school has in terms of the grade is that they overlooked science in the lower grades therefore the fifth graders lacked the background knowledge needed to completely master the grade level expectations which did not allow them to be successful in the Science FCAT. To solve the problem, maybe not immediately but eventually, she allocated strong science teachers throughout the different grade levels to ensure that the students will be provided with explicit instruction and plenty of hands on/ minds on science inquiries. All of us (science teachers) are excited and continuously collaborating to make our lessons inviting and valuable. Our goal is to give science at our school the merit it deserves.
I completely agree. Everyone wants teachers to encourage their students to like science because of the importance of the STEM fields, but there is not much time given to teachers in order to teach it. It is hard to emphasize the importance of a subject when you only have 30 minutes every other day to teach it. I understand the importance of Math and Reading, but the other subjects should not be thrown to the side. When I was in middle school, we had the year split. The first semester we did Science and then the second semester we did Social Studies. I liked this instead of it being every other day. I felt like I learned more by doing it every day. So even though it was only half of the year, I still feel like I got a lot out of it.
I am currently a 1st grade pre-service intern in the Howard County Public School System. In this first month or so in my internship I am experiencing this first hand. Even trying to write a lesson plan for a meaningful activity in 30 minutes is so rough because, as David mentioned, it's right after lunch for us so children need to use the restroom, wash their hands, etc. so the transition times completely eat into the small amount of time allotted to content. We don't even have science consistently throughout the year, we have blocks of content that rotate between social studies, health, and science which is pretty much how you would need to teach it because you cannot dissect 30 minutes any more to teach anything that will stick. I feel like with the whole STEM movement, maybe every other day science can leech into a bit of the 1 hour math block, even using overlapping concepts to successful teach both subjects at the same time. I really hope to move around a bit in my placement school and see what the higher grades are doing about this issue.
Thank you for bringing up this topic.
I agree with you completely! In this science methods course I am taking, I feel like the information is so useful - and this website is so useful, but so far, at the school I am doing my student teaching, they do science if they can, or IF it fits. If it's a library day, they will take up the social studies/science time. We either do SS or science, and it's for half an hour. We spend the entire morning with reading and writing, and another hour and a half with math. I mean it's great, but science is so relevant nowadays. Not too sure if this how the first grade team at my school has designed it, but they are more interested in reading/writing and math.
same here!!! Science is just as important as math, reading, and writing. It is especially beneficiary we it becomes an interdisciplinary part of the curriculum. Most schools don't teach world geography anymore and if we don't teach subjects like that, our students will not be well rounded citizens equipped with the tools and knowledge to survive in the real world. Up until now, I didn't know where to turn to, to brush up on my science content knowledge or get insight and suggestions fro fellow teachers. This graduate course I am taking right now introduced me to the best science teaching website and I am forever grateful.
I could not agree more! I am studying to be a teacher currently at a University and have witnessed science be put aside for other subjects while doing my field hours. It is amazing to see teachers say they have to take time from science to do more math or reading. Science is not held at the same level as any of the other more valued subjects such as reading and math, at least in the elementary grades form what I have witnessed. I wish science was valued by more teachers and they did not feel so pressured to only focus on reading and math.
I completely agree with you! Some teacher believe that students need to work on reading, writing, and math; but science is just as important. I have noticed that children really enjoy science too, especially when it involves doing a lab. I believe the time should be divided equally between all subjects. My cooperating teacher teaches science for 45 minutes and writing for 45 minutes, she gives importance to both of the subjects.
I agree that both science and social studies require just as much time and attention in the classroom as other academic and social subjects. I feel that when the majority of the students struggle with a certain subject or two then the teachers can discuss allocating a few extra minutes per day to those subject areas, but the focus really needs to be on the quality of the lessons and activities that the students will be learning from. However, almost completely ignoring one subject for another is not acceptable.
I agree that more time is needed for science and social studies. I believe that science instruction should consist of hands-on learning experiences, inquiry learning, and lab experiences. Thirty minutes is not enough for these types of activities if students are to retain the information they have learned. Several of these activities may even take more than one day. Students can grasp concepts more efficiently when actively learning throughout the curriculum. Cleaning up after lab activities and passing out materials takes up much of our time; thus, we have to find efficient ways to clean up and have materials previously set up. Science is as important as reading, writing, math, and social studies. All subjects are important as they educate students about the world. We need to encourage learning of all subjects and science as these students are our future doctors, lawyers, and even teachers.
I completely agree. I think we should do more interdisciplinary teaching. Integrating more subjects is a real world application and allows for more time with science. When you go to university, you don't just do science. You might do some research on what has been done in the past (history) and write a report (ELA). We do science everyday in life so science should be explored everyday in the classroom.
I am currently a Elementary Education senior at FIU where I am taking a science class on methods of teaching science. I have been doing pre service hours at various schools throughout learning and when it comes to science, my field placement teachers always tell me they rarely have any time for science. In the process, the teacher teaches both mathematics and science and spends approximately 1/4 of the time on science and most of the remaining time doing mathematics. When prepping myself for doing activities for my science class, it was sort of difficult where the students were missing out on their other class assignments for having to do focus more on science. The students does seem interested in learning science however the time spent does not allow for the students to be able to share their thoughts on the different science topics.
Science is so important! It seems that it is placed on the back burner until fifth grade when the students are tested on it. I want to see more hands on science exploration in the early grades too!
I totally agree! Science is always a subject that comes last in schools. I have done hours at schools where teachers say that they teach science when they have extra time. I feel like science is a subject that should be taught longer and more often. After all, science encompasses almost if not everything that we observe in the world around us.
I can relate. I am in a Reading ELA split class and the science math teachers always ask for extended time. There is just as much importance for science than all other subjects. I think it mostly has to do with standardized testing and at what point the students will be held accountable.
I do agree that Science isn't always appreciated and held to the same level as reading, writing, and math. I think this is where it becomes the teacher's responsibility to do anything possible to teach science, such as integrating it into other subjects or lessons taught. Science can be a lot like the other subjects where they bounce off each other. The teacher can just reinforce the importance of science in her classroom even if everyone around doesn't.
I cannot agree enough. I am actually having a hard time teaching my science lessons in my class right now because I;m only given 90 mins a day to cover lots of material. There's just not enough time to teach everything in 90 minutes. I feel that if we really want students to digest the information we teach them, we have to give them enough time for self discovery. I find that in my school, there is only enough time for me to teach and once they go do their own self discovery with their group, they have about 10 minutes before I have to call time. it is unfortunate but I have to stay on schedule.
I get about 40 minutes everyday to teach science. I am working on electricity and magnetism in connection with the book The People of Sparks. Does anyone heard of this book or read it? If so, do you have any fun science lessons that would go along great with it?
I would love to know the author of this book as I am working with a teacher doing some instruction around electricity in trying to meet the 4th grade NGSS energy performance expectations. .
A book I use that is excellent is Electrical Wizard:Teslsa Lit the World.
Can you have your students read about science-related topics during reading time, and do science-related math problems during math time? That would give you more time for science each day.
I once read a blog post that compared teaching to working in a triage unit, because there just is not enough time to do all that you know you could/should do. There are many factors that go into this, that we don't have direct control over.
I am a huge supporter of Common Core and NGSS, but as a science teacher, I am bound to the 'no child left behind' era science standards and state testing until my state and school district go into 'full implementation' of NGSS. However, we are in 'full implementation' of Common Core, so I am required to integrate literacy and critical thinking into my instruction. This all creates a conflict of teaching philosophies within my mind. I am constantly struggling with wanting to teach in one way (student centered, inquiry driven), but having to teach using an opposite approach due to the fast pace I must maintain so students are exposed to all of the standards tested in March.
My students produced excellent results on our district's science benchmark test, but I really think that's because I taught test taking strategies from the first day of school and remained focused on the assessment limits of our standards, not because my students had a deep science understanding.
The elementary science push is what I do in our district day in and day out. So many people just see it as "an extra." Finally this year I feel I have made some progress. I have led my peers to pilot a new science curriculum that interrogates reading and math nicely!!! Phew, finally!
Congratulations Susan! I'd love to hear some of your strategies that were successful as well as some that weren't so I can avoid them.
We have looked around and found curriculums to pilot. Many companies like schools to take a peak at what they have and often it helps teachers enough that they can squeeze it in the writing, reading and math. I think once the publishers hear these concerns loud and clear it will move everyone to work together. Not only do the publishers want and need to sell their product but they want to have a quality product that really works! Don't get me wrong, looking at new curriculums is a lot of work but well worth it! Many companies have aligned to several sets of standards or they are willing to custom align.
Here is the book info from above:
The People of Sparks: The Second Book of Ember (Books of Ember) Paperback – April 12, 2005
by Jeanne DuPrau (Author)
I would have to agree that science is overlooked and not valued as much as other subjects, such as math or reading. I think some schools and people believe that science is not something that is used throughout our day to day lives therefore it is not as important as the other subjects. I think that science is very important and should be taught more than what it is. I believe science is something that our students will gain from and that they can use to make connections and use as they grow.
I fully agree! At the school I was previously at we only taught science for 30-45 minutes maybe 3 times a week. I felt like it was never made a priority but it really should be. Science is so important for building those thinking and problem-solving skills that we stress are so important in today's society and workplace. We really need to make more of an effort to get science into the daily schedule. I think as much importance should be placed on science as there is on Math and Language Arts. The skills that are taught in Science can be applied to any subject and are valuable life skills that students will use in their day to day lives in the real world.
The NSTA position statement on Early Childhood Science Education provides guidance for administrators, as well as for teachers, in how to support science learning.
NSTA_Early_Childhood_Science_Education_Position_Statement-NAEYC_endorsed.doc (0.05 Mb)
Finding time for science and social studies has always been a concern for elementary teachers. Integration is not only useful for finding time to teach science, but it also makes a lot of sense. Our world is not sorted into separate topics, but rather everything is interrelated. That's why we need to teach every dat using an integrated approach. I use science and social studies nonfiction during reading all the time and when we are reading and writing in science and social studies we discuss the reading strategies needed to understand the text.
At our school we have been trying really hard to build units that intermix Science and Social Studies concepts with reading and writing standards and skills. In doing this, I have begun to look at all of my textbooks differently. Pulling pieces from a science chapter and tying the idea with a story from the reading anthology has provided much more interesting lessons and ultimately seems to free up time in a day or week! Students are writing across the curriculum (even in math). By teaching close reading skills with nonfiction text to understand science or social studies content, I'm finding students paying closer attention when they read fiction or are free reading. They connect vocabulary and ideas learned in other areas with stories they are reading "for fun".
You might want to check out Sadlier Reading Progress. I previewed it last year and now our school's language arts committee is reviewing it. It integrates CCSC language and reading with grade-level science and social studies content. We haven't adopted anything yet, but so far it looks quite promising. The lessons some of us have used with our students worked very well.
I am really glad that someone brought this up as a topic because I completely agree-we need to incorporate more time for science lessons! Right now, I am currently student teaching a fifth grade math and science class and I notice everyday that we do not get to spend enough time on the content. My cooperating teacher only gets to spend 30 minutes teaching science because math takes up most of his teaching time. Also, by the time the students transition into science, it is in the afternoon so they're all tired and have a hard time concentrating on the subject. I think maybe if we have science taught earlier in the day, the students will have more energy and focus required for them to learn the content.
I have a similar situation like that as well. My cooperating teacher was more focused on math and reading. She teaches science activities on certain days. Normally, her daily routine is that she does reading or writing in the morning and reading workstation before recess and lunch. Then after lunch, they start math lesson. It's hard to know which days the students was doing the science activity.
I absolutely agree! I have seen some teachers integrate science into subjects throughout the day. Although there isn't always enough time, I think teachers should make the effort to at least bring science into the classroom once a day, even if it's 30 minutes.
Unfortunately its all about state exams, at least here in Texas. Leaving little to no time for science in the curriculum. My students literally attend science once a week and thats it! Considering this is unacceptable I try to integrate science in as many lessons as I possibly can!
I absolutely agree that math and English are the two primary subjects that are focused in today's schools, but it also depends on the district, the school, and the teacher. For example, I am currently student teaching this semester, and I noticed that my first graders spend most of their time in their English literacy block than in any other subject areas. I am in a self-contained classroom. The students engage in math on a daily basis as well and if we have time, we will cover science and social studies. However, very rarely do we cover all subject areas in one day although my teacher is making an effort to do so. Further, I believe that integration is key because it will maximize instruction time in the classroom and will keep students engage and will help them make connections across various subject areas. One way to integrate, is to incorporate social studies or science books during students' read aloud time. Sadly, I also believe that many teachers are not making time for social and science because they simply do not seek out the resources or feel comfortable teaching the content. This is one reason why I am so appreciative that this website offers opportunities for me to develop my knowledge and skills.
Like many, I also agree. Science is vital to students' day-to-day learning, and it appears that there are not enough hours in the day to teach this subject since schools are required to put so much focus on Math and Reading/ELA. As a preservice teacher, I have learned that integrating lessons can save you much time in any classroom. Taking a content rich subject like Science or Social Studies can easily integrate Math and Reading/ELA.
For example, my professor has shared her experience as a first year teacher and took Science as her starting point for all of the curriculum. Studying rocks and minerals in Science, she connected the California Gold Rush in Social Studies. Students were part of a mining camp (part of Interact) and were in charge of mapping out their camp using area and perimeter in Math. For Reading/ELA, books and other readings were involved including leveled readers during guided reading.
Keeping all the curriculum connected to the students' mining camps, they found a purpose for learning. Students were engaged and eager to learn more to help their mining camp.
I will forever remember this example to ensure that I integrate Science since it is such a vital part to student learning.
I am currently student teaching in a third grade math and science classroom, and even though we have an allotted time for science, time is usually taken out of science to allow more time for math. In third grade students are tested on reading and math, therefore most teachers are more concerned with the math content rather than the science.
I completely agree with you. At the school I student teach at students are only given 30 minutes a day and thats only if they have enough time so then it cuts down to 15-20 minutes to teach.
I suggest the integration of STEM activities where the two content areas can be bridged, makes for great student engagement and learning!
I agree! I am currently a junior in college and while doing my field hours have seen that science is only emphasized when there are no standardized tests coming up. The teachers are forced to focus solely on what the students are being tested on that year. I feel if that is the case then teachers should try to integrate science into other subjects. For example the teacher I am observing will include a reading comprehension activity on a science topic.
I find it to be ridiculous how short they allow teachers to teach science in elementary. They tend to focus mostly on either reading or math. Students don't really get to enjoy engaging in real scientific inquiry. They rarely do any experiments, and its mostly worksheets and taking down notes. It is really hard to create time for meaningful activities in science. It is often viewed as a secondary subject, unless there is a standardized assessment that follows it.
Out of all the classes that I've worked with, I always find that both the sciences and social studies are lacking.Its almost as if they are on the back burner for 'later'. I find that students are getting , for a lack of better terms, ripped off in their education. We should find more ways to integrate both math and reading with the lesser taught subject. Students are losing interest in science more and more with each class that I work with.
I completely agree that this is a problem. One thing they talk about in my credential program is including non-fiction texts during language arts time. The only way, I think, to increase time for either social studies or science is to develop as many lessons as possible that incorporate multiple different subjects in one lesson. For instance, developing a claim for a science experiment can be incorporated in language arts. Research for an experiment can be done during reading time. Experiments can be designed that incorporate math. Otherwise, finding time is an incredibly difficult (though not impossible) task in my opinion.
I could not agree more. Science needs to be taught everyday no matter what. If the school simply does not make time for science to be taught everyday, then it is the teachers responsibility to incorporate it into other subjects and make it cross-cirricular. The subject science can be incorporated in math, reading, language arts, even social studies. Simply having students making inferences, observations, or hypothesis's is teaching them to be good scientists even through different topics and subjects.
I definitely agree. I do not think there is enough science built into elementary school classrooms. It seems like science is the subject that students get to engage in "if we have time". As a student teacher, I've begun to witness first hand the lack of science there is in the daily schedule. In my first placement, students did not begin science until months into the school year. At my current placement, students get science once a week for two hours, which for any grade level is a long time for them to have a single subject. Often times, the students groan because they have to do science; I believe it is because it is such a large chunk of time and they get bored. I think science should be more than once a week and possibly in smaller increments of time. It's such an important discipline that we do not give nearly enough time or focus to.
I agree. Thankfully our school has a designated science teacher and the students spend about an hour and half in that class a day. In a full inclusion classroom I couldn't agree more because it seems as if they spend about 30 minutes on it and that's it. My classroom only spends 20 minutes a day on social studies so I understand the struggle.
I definitely agree. There is only 45 minutes each day devoted science, and social studies just gets woven into reading. I am currently student teaching in 3rd grade and my students will not take a standardized state test that covers science until they're in 5th grade. By that time, they will be required to remember things I am teaching them now in 3rd grade. I think schools are so focused on the subjects that the students will be tested over first (math and reading) and then they worry about the other subjects later. However, "later," is usually too late. Students need a strong foundation in science if we want them to be able to retain the information when it comes time for them to take the test in 5th grade. Luckily, my cooperating teacher lets me take 15 minutes from math to wrap up science and make deep, meaningful connections. Since I have teaching science this semester, my students' scores on daily assignments and tests have improved. I think that extra 15 minutes has a little bit to do with it.
I completely agree with you. Science should be considered just as important as reading in in all schools. It is a shame that schools are not spending enough time teaching science. I hope this changes one day because it is a disadvantage to all students.
I agree with you, teachers are not given enough time to teach science and social studies. They force them to focus so much on math and reading that the students are not being taught valuable science and social studies lessons when they are equally important. There should be more time for these two subjects.
I completely agree. Classroom time needs to be more equally distributed between subjects. In the 2nd grade classroom I student teach in, we do science for a couple hours every Thursday. How are students supposed to explore complex topics, make models, revise models, collaborate, hypothesize, etc in a couple hours?! It's a real shame. The best solution I can think of is to integrate subjects. It's very easy to make a literacy lesson out of a science topic, but literature is favored there. Teachers need to be responsible for exposing students to many types of text, so why not a science text once per day?
I'd have to agree. The time allotted for science is not enough. Sometimes discovery lessons or even 5E lessons are not developed appropriately even during a 2 day period due to the amount of topics that need to be covered and the time you have to do so. In my classroom, the teacher does a mini lesson and jumps to hands on activities that help the students understand the content. In this way she is able to allow them to discover to some extent and still teach them new concepts and scaffold on previous lessons.
I agree. I have student taught at many elementary schools, and many of them barely had time for science instruction. Which makes me sad because I love science.
yes! I am a student teacher in Texas, and science doesn't get taught enough in the classrooms. I feel that everything is so exam based, that if it is not tested they treat it as less important. I know that some of my students really love science class, and are always asking why they don't get to learn science as much. It's pretty heartbreaking.
I completely agree with this! I am finishing my credential program and in both student teaching placements I did not see much science at all. Both classes only did science every other week and were taught by other teachers. For these reasons, I didn't have the opportunity to teach science. This is definitely a deficit to our students' education, as science is all around us and makes meaning of the world. I hope to integrate science concepts in other areas of the curriculum as I begin to have my own classroom.
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