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Next Generation Science Standards

Helping Students Who "Just Don't Get It"

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Julia Spendio Julia Spendio 210 Points

My name is Julia and I am a future teacher! The subject in school that I always struggled with was science-I never quite seemed to grasp many of the concepts. I am wondering if any of you current and experienced teachers have any tips for me to teach other students who have a hard time grasping the concepts. It is hard to give every student one on one time so I am wondering if there are any other ways to help explain science to those students who "just don't get it?"

Ashalenia Graham Ashalenia Graham 985 Points

Hi! I felt the same way about Science and Social Studies most of my life, but moreso about Science.  Concepts in Biology, Chemistry, and Physics were so far beyond me it was something I was scared of during college.  However, after taking my Science/ SS methods courses as well as joining this site, both my content knowledge and pedegogy I feel like have improved ten fold.  Since you are a member of this site, I would reccomend adding journals for particular topics that you feel weakest in.  The webinars are great for teaching purposes and should help you in turn help those struggling students in your classroom. I attatched my personal collection of various science subjects, I hope this helps!

Chemistry Resources Collection (18 items)

STEM Resources Collection (21 items)
Elizabeth Ricke Elizabeth Ricke 343 Points

Hi Julia!
This is something that I'm sure so many teachers have struggled with. I think the best thing to do is to make lessons relatable and entertaining to students. It is extremely difficult to give each and every student the one-on-one time they may need, but a possible alternative would be to create a video of you doing specific tasks or working through concepts, so they could watch and do this on their own, then come to you with questions or concerns. Another option would be to have the students who are struggling come help you work out a specific concept or task, this could help you identify where students are struggling at and maybe do some group work to reteach the concept. Make sure to get to know your students before having them come up to help you, as this could embarrass them or not work in your favor. I hope some of these tips can help!

Janie Bohannon Janie Bohannon 135 Points

Hi Julia! I also always struggled with figuring out how to 'get it'. One thing that has made certain things click for me in the past has been relating concepts to real life experiences I have had. Finding new and creative ways to display information is also helpful.

Liah Yi Seo Yi 1190 Points

Hello! My name is Seo Hyun and I am an undergraduate working towards elementary education certificate. Science has always been my weakest subject in grade school and I'm still concerned if I could teach it well to my students! I'm not a teacher yet, but some of the recommendations for students who "just don't get it" are taking down notes/names of students who struggle and paying extra careful attention to them. You always want to think about them as you teach and check if they're on the right track. Creating engaging lesson plans that accomadates diverse learners because everyone has different learning styles(visual learners, auditory learners).Lastly, get to know your students interest so that you can tie that into your lessons. 

Sydney McCain Sydney McCain 985 Points

Hi Julia! I imagine you're in a classroom now teaching and that you have figured this out. But I definitely feel you can help these children who have a really hard time by relating content to their life as best as you can and through inquiry projects. There is so much data that shows students learn better when using inquiry processes rather than teacher-led lessons. I think keeping them interested and excited about a subject they claim not to like or understand is one of the most difficult steps to overcome but once you do I believe you'll be able to really help them! I am still pre-service but I was definitely one of these kids when it came to science and I think if I thought the information would have benefitted me in the future it would have made a huge difference. I hope this helps and good luck!

Molly Lembezeder Molly Lembezeder 3130 Points

I agree with the other comments I'm seeing on here... Definitely providing student autonomy over their learning, allowing students to explore topics in a variety of directions of their choosing, and tailoring projects towards their interests instead of generic ideas! Those experiences are the ones that I still remember today from my own learning. The other piece of advice I would give you to help ideas really be clear and sink in is to always wrap things up with a class discussion of some sort. Whether this is students sharing their findings from an experiment, comparing findings and ideas to each other, or just reiterating what was learned that day/unit, some sort of conversation about the learning to wrap things up and solidify ideas is always helpful. Good luck!

Thanh Thao Nguyen Thanh Thao Nguyen 460 Points

Hello, there! I love all the advice and comments that have been posted so far. However, in addition to creating inquiry-based learning, differentiated instruction, and student-centered learning, I think it is also important that we teachers keep encouraging students who are struggling. In my own classroom, I plan to implement a growth mindset culture. I'm sure many of you have already heard about this, however, the growth mindset is the idea that people have a "self-theory" about themselves. It states that there are two mindsets: the growth mindset and the fixed mindset. Someone with a growth mindset believes typically believes that intelligence is developed and is created through effort and hard work. On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset tend to believe that intelligence and talent are inherited and cannot be changed. We affect whether or not our students have fixed mindsets or growth mindsets. It's influenced by the way we speak and what we say, the way our classroom is set up, our expectations of them, etc. This is something that I have been learning as a pre-service teacher and I have found to be true myself. It's a really awesome concept by Carol Dweck and backed up by research! I encourage anyone who isn't aware of it, to look it up!

Samantha Evans Samantha Evans 280 Points

Hi Julia!! I am also a student teacher and I struggle with some of this with my students now. I was also a student who just didn't get it but my subject was math. We are learning in school that students shouldn't be doing worksheets but having student led activities. I really like how most of the responses you got were about high level inquiry lessons as well. That goes hand in hand to what we are learning in our science curriculum class but I relate it to every subject when coming up with lessons. Also, always start with what your struggling students know and try to push them from there. Differentiation is difficult but it is well worth it!

Carrie Birdsong Carrie Birdsong 640 Points

I have an idea; not a magic potion :)

I connect the science subject to things they like, for example if they are an ART kind of student I connect science to si-fi art or biological art (sci-fi art needs to appear realistic and believeable) and bilogical art [of people and animals] need to be accurate and or believable).  

I connect studying to practice of sports to improve and just know what to do out on the field or court.  And lastly, I connect studting to paying attention to things like they do when they play video games and learn the cheats (they either look them up or watch and study someone else).  


Hope this helps :)

Hannah Lauer Hannah Lauer 2015 Points

Hello friends!  Another undergraduate sci ed student here.  One of my biggest frustrations with this topic is that there are all these GREAT ideas but I have NO CLUE how to implement them.  I am a future Wisconsin Public Schools teacher and the NGSS, Cross-Cutting Concepts, and Sci/Engineering Practices have me SO overwhelmed I can't even begin working on a unit assignment I have for my methods class.  Help??

Nicole Anthony Nicole Anthony 702 Points

I  am also a student teacher completing my MAT in broad science, from what I've learned so far and learned from my clinical supervisor at a STEM middle school, for the students who have a hard time grasping the concepts, I feel it is beneficial to present the concepts in multiple ways, using differentiation. I am learning about the NGSS and crosscutting concepts, I hope that when I am in the classroom I can use the crosscutting concepts to help students grasp the scientific concepts.

Mirko Bronzi Mirko Bronzi 40 Points

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