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New Teachers

Tips and Tricks

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Cory Frank Cory Frank 350 Points

Hello! I am going to be student teaching in the fall of 2016.  I am so excited but a little nervous, especially with teaching science.  Science was not my favorite subject in grade school because I did not find it interesting.  What are some tips and tricks to get my students excited about learning science- something that I wish my teacher would have done for me?  Thanks in advance! 

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92296 Points

Welcome to Middle School, Cory. I love using discrepant events. You can find one for nearly every concept you will be teaching. You can find lots of ideas in the 'Even More Brain-Powered Science: Teaching and Learning With Discrepant Evants' by Thomas O'Brien.
Even More Brain-Powered Science: Teaching and Learning With Discrepant Eventsby: Thomas O'Brien
I had the pleasure of meeting him when I was co-presenting at a NSTA national conference - he was checking out our presentation workshop because it was on discrepant events. It was very cool having an author and expert on the subject enjoying our presentation!
Anyway, check out his book chapters in the Learning Center or his book. They are are filled with great teaching ideas to engage your students.
Carolyn Mohr,
adjunct science professor for K-12 science teaching methods,
Dominican University and Southern Illinois University/Carbondale

Melissa Alvarado Melissa Alvarado 2170 Points

Hello Cory! I am actually going to be student teaching soon as well. I think I am just as nervous, however when I read this post I thought of something that I am looking forward to implementing either when I'm student teaching if it's possible or when I have my own classroom in the near future. I think it's a great idea to take some time at the beginning of the school year to do an inventory and ask the students what topics they are interested in learning about. You can then look over these inventories, hold on to them, and try to implement lessons and activities/experiments that you know the students are going to be excited by, because you already know that they told you they want to learn more about it.

Barbara Force Barbara Force 1335 Points

Check out the Everyday Science Mysteries books in the Professional Learning Tools. They have free chapters available, and you get a discount with your membership (plus the Spring2016 promo code is in effect now.) They are more than just cool demonstrations, which can really turn off students who aren't interested in science. They're cool mysteries that require a little bit of digging, which can be intrinsically rewarding. Having hands-on activities is important, especially if there's a neat product in the end. Having kids grow seeds in ziplock bags that students tape to the window is a favorite. If there's a classroom garden, that can be very rewarding and provide many opportunities for learning. Including science-related current events is helpful. I highly suggest Newsela, which not only provides current event articles, but also adjusts the article based on students' reading level. Nothing turns off a student quite like struggling to read something outside of their zone of proximal development.

Alli Wilmes Alli Wilmes 650 Points

I don't have any tips, but I observed a really cool hands on activity for science. The activity is about rock formations, specifically metamorphic and sedimentary. The activity is very hands on and the students loved it! The activity is making edible rocks. For the metamorphic rocks you take graham crackers, marshmallows, and gummy worms. The students will need two paper plates, so on the first plate they put all the goodies they want on it and then place the other paper plate on top. Then, the teacher microwaves it. Then, with a piece of paper on the floor, the students set their plates on the paper and set cardboard on top of their rock creation and stand on top of the cardboard and squish their rock. Then, they went back to their tables and took the top plate off to see their creation and how it changed. For the sedimentary rocks the teacher made a type of rice crispy treats with different colored cereals and showed putting all the ingredients and the process. The students had a worksheet that went along with the activity where they compared what the items looked like before and after the processes. (I hope this all made sense.) The students really enjoyed doing the activity, but it got a little crazy because the teacher did the activity at the end of the school year in a second grade classroom. For this activity to work well, and not have the class go all crazy you would probably have to go over the rules and make sure the students understand your expectations. I hope this helps!

Alyssa Tannous Alyssa Tannous 980 Points

That is a really neat idea!

Michelle Abbott Michelle Abbott 890 Points

Try and make activities or lessons engaging and hands on. I also noticed (I was in a preschool classroom at this time) that the kids liked learning about science when it was relative to them. So my teacher discussed how they would dress during different seasons and some activities they do for different seasons, rather than the weather is ___ in this season. She made it relative to their personal livevs to draw them in and make them interested in the science topics.

Charlotte Gutierrez Charlotte Gutierrez 610 Points

Out of curiosity, what did you not find interesting about science? Perhaps, starting from the origin will help you understand how to make your science lessons more engaging and interesting for your students to learn. I have learned that having hands-on interaction with material help students, because they are able to use their five senses. For example, the second graders touched different types of body coverings to see how an animal can protect itself. Some days later in the lesson, the students were able to sort which animals belonged underneath having fur/hair on their body, which animals have an exoskeleton, and which other animals have scales at their tables. I thought the activities engaged the students, because they felt like they were part of the lesson being taught.

Kelli Gilbert Kelli Gilbert 885 Points

I was the same way! Science was just never my favorite subject through grade school. I think you should try some hands-on lesson with engaging activities and more. Another great thing to include is letting students work in groups so they can exchange ideas and see how other people view the same thing.

Danielle Hardin Danielle Hardin 1035 Points

I am really looking forward to teaching science in my future placement. I love science in general. However, at first I did not know how well the students would enjoy science. I recall, in school disliking science because there was not a lot of hands on activities. We watched a lot of Bill Nye the Science Guy. Now through my course, I have learned how to make science engaging for students. Students become so very excited to have hands on activities. Gardens have been a huge success for several schools that I have worked with over my early childhood education. My tip for you is no matter what age group you are teaching the more engaging and hands on you make the activity the more the students will take from it! Allow them to be scientist!

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92369 Points

I agree with you, Danielle. When we look back on our experiences with science during our school years, our opinion of science was a direct reflection of the way our science teachers delivered instruction. I still remember my 6th grade science teacher asking the class if water was sticky. Seems like such an innocent and simple question. We discussed how we knew water was not sticky, she listened and nodded. Then she asked, "If water isn't sticky, then why do we use a towel to dry our hands or our bodies when we bathe?"

Amanda Guzman Amanda Guzman 1005 Points

I agree with the post about making the activities and lessons hands-on. Students are usually most engaged that way and they also learn best that way. I am in student teaching right now and have found that it is important to know your students. You have to be aware of the best way your class learns. I know right now that might seem like it is going to be difficult but as you get comfortable in the classroom, you will begin to have a better understanding of their learning styles.

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