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Elementary Science

Enough time for science?

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Dounia Bounoua Dounia Bounoua 1315 Points

Since the allotted time for science has lessened greatly in the classroom, would it be better to incorporate science throughout the day as opposed to a specific science time? I think the children would benefit from including science during play time or history or any other topics. Does this seem far fetched?

Christiann Roach Christiann Roach 200 Points

I think incorporating Science into other subjects is a beneficial and engaging way for students to learn. Integrating subjects is one way for students to understand a variety of subjects; I personally think it would be easier to teach that way as well. When there is a Literacy lesson and Science lesson happening at the same time, I believe students will benefit more out of it. 

Ariadna Valdes Ariadna Valdes 2490 Points

Hello!  I think that you can definitely incorporate science into other subjects. There are a lot of possibilities of incorporating it during other lessons especially in math. The one thing I would suggest that you are aware of when you are incorporating science into the other subjects is that you make clear how you are connecting them and what is necessary for both lessons. Also, that you cover what is needed in each lesson even when you include science in it. Maybe there is a way to cover both the standard for science and the standard for the other lesson when mixing both together. 

Betty Paulsell Betty Paulsell 48560 Points

Incorporating science with other subjects is definitely a good idea. It is even a trend in education because of CCCS and NGSS. You have an idea that is right on the cutting edge of science education now. Good work!!!

Jane Gripper Jane Gripper 160 Points

Great question. One approach could be interdisciplinary, inquiry based learning. There may be many parents, teachers and students out there who may feel a little daunted by this style of teaching and learning. The trick is in the planning. Initially, this could be a large task, but you will be richly rewarded for your efforts. With good planning, you will find that you actually get through more standards than you thought possible! Here is a useful link to creating your own interdisciplinary curriculum. Good luck and enjoy!

Dorothy Ginnett Dorothy Ginnett 28235 Points

Hi Jane - I agree, interdisciplinary topics, such as Environmental Science, can be effectively used to teach all the basic science topics (biology, chemistry & physics) at the Elementary level and also address Common Core standards (writing, math, etc.). It also teaches students to begin to think like real scientists, who take an interdisciplinary approach to research. Lesson planning is key to make sure all standards are covered, but it would really help students connect the diverse fields of science. The Interdisciplinary Curriculum link you mentioned is not posted. Can you please post it? It sounds interesting. Thanks! Dorothy

In the classroom I've been working in, the Kindergarten teacher tries to incorporate the science lesson during writing time. Last week her students were learning about the five senses and creating flipbooks. It was both a writing and science lesson in one. Due to the limited amount of time we have for each subject I think it is a good idea.

ISAURA JEREZ Isaura Jerez 3820 Points

Incorporating science with other subject is a great idea. Science is fun and letting students know that you are using it while teaching other subjects is great. Students need to feel comfortable using science, there are numerous ways to incorporate it, we as future teachers have to be creative and learn how to incorporate it into other subjects for many reasons not only because of time.

Natalie Chao Natalie Chao 1270 Points

I strongly agree that incorporating science into other subjects is very important because Science time in classrooms has been greatly reduced. Many teachers spend so much time on math and reading that there is not enough time to work on a good inquiry science lesson with the students. In the school I am currently placed in, the teacher is so busy covering other materials that some days she is not able to get to science or only has about 20 minutes to devote to a science lesson. Students only get to use the science lab two times a month leaving them no time to get to explore and do experiments.

Lisa Jasinski Lisa Jasinski 1090 Points

I am currently in school to become a teacher. Through my observation sites I have found that most teachers try and cram in science in the last half hour of the day. These responses have been so helpful in trying to figure out the best way to maximize science teaching.

Emily Clements Emily Clements 895 Points

I am currently in school to become a teacher. I have taken a wide range of classes, from language arts, health, science, etc. One of the main concerns when teaching elementary students is fitting in science. In many schools students only learn science every other day, alternating with social studies. I have learned the importance of implementing science into other subjects. This can easily be done in reading and writing. You can have students read non-fiction text on the science material that you learning about. You can do the same in writing. This is a great way to teach material throughout the day. Another issue this can help with is that many students have difficulty reading non-fiction text. They have a hard time pulling of key points and important information and this is a great way to help teach this. I am currently observing in a 6th grade class and it really worries me that students can not read non-fiction text and actually read it for comprehension.

Stephanie Musser Stephanie Musser 1070 Points

I totally agree when you suggest using science in all aspects of the school day. They could do that in gym with gravity and throwing balls, social studies works well too because of the different migrations animals went through and what not. This suggestion sparked more thoughts for my classroom.

Sue Garcia Sue Garcia 42675 Points

As school budgets are cut and "Passing the Test" becomes the primary focus of many school districts curriculum, teaching science becomes more and more challenging. In schools that can incorporate science throughout the day, especially though using interdisciplinary units as a response to the shorter classroom times, helping students bridge the concept gap (often found between content areas), and developing curriculum that has more depth (due to the interdisciplinary nature of teaching), this challenge can be more easily met. Developing an effective interdisciplinary unit takes time, effort, and cooperation among a large number of teachers and the administration. But, if this problem can be addressed, there is a greater possibility of providing a quality science curriculum even under the most challenging of educational conditions.

Darlene Petranick Darlene Petranick 5975 Points

One of the strategies that I use are science centers. They are setup in a way that students can work independently when they have finished other assignments that have been scheduled. Some are introductory centers and others are practice or extension. I have found that this way I don't feel as if I have put science off to the side.

Kathy Renfrew Kathy Renfrew 37108 Points

We have to create time for science in elementary schools. It is not fair to our students to do any thing but make time. I also know that the reality of doing this might be much more difficult to do than it is to say. Having said that, how can we help each other make science happen in elementary classrooms. What support can we provide for each other so we are not all trying to do the same thing? I would love to help but I can't do it alone. So please ask. Let's give science a try.

Maureen Stover Maureen Stover 41070 Points

Hi Darlene,

I really like your idea to use science centers. Are the centers your primary science instruction or do you use them in addition to ideas and concepts presented in class? I found a really great article about Discovery Bottles. I'm thinking about incorporating these with second graders, and considering whether to only have bottles that directly address our standards or if I should including concepts that we won't be covering in class. Also, do you track students' participation at the centers?

Thanks for the great idea!

Michael Leatherman Michael Leatherman 385 Points

Thanks so much for including the link to the Discovery Bottles article.  It seems like a great solution for supplemental science exposure. ~Mike

Jessica Gibson Jessica Gibson 970 Points

I want to say that I got some great ideas looking at the responses to this question. This topic is one of the hardest things to me going into the teaching profession because so much time is spent on Language Arts and Math and not enough on science and history. I think it is best to integrate it into these subjects. The classroom that I am working in right now does that and it works well. They will do a science lesson from the scikits they get then do a writing exercise with it.

Kathryn Mahoney Kathryn Mahoney 1590 Points

I think it is important to make time for subjects such as science and social studies, which often get cut. Science can easily tie in with mathematics and literacy. If teachers take the time to plan effectively, science can be moved into the busy school day. Whether it is reading an article on science topics and making inferences and answering comprehension questions or solving word problems related to science, it is very possible to make science an interdisciplinary lesson during the day.

Tatiana Egozcue Tatiana Egozcue 2125 Points

I think incorporating science into other subjects is beneficial to student learning, but at the same time I believe teachers should make some time in their classroom schedule to teach science through inquiry lessons. Inquiry lesson allow students to experiment and build their own knowledge on science concepts. In addition, I believe that there should be a scheduled time for science because there are specific concepts in science that need to be broken down and clearly explained in order for students to fully comprehend it.

Nicole Lopez Nicole Lopez 1690 Points

I think incorporating science into other subjects is a great idea and visa versa! All subjects should intertwine with one another because it strengthens student learning and understanding. I think teachers of all subjects should get together regularly to figure out ways that their curriculum is similar and plans their lessons that way.

Cristal Ramos Cristal Ramos 1615 Points

I definitely agree that Science is not taken seriously by many educators or the school system. Therefore, since a designated time for the learning of Science is gradually decreasing, teachers should set up Science related lessons in other subjects, such as: Math, Reading, and Centers. I believe this will benefit students and teachers in learning more about the subject through a different content area.

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

Proposed changes to STEM education in the UK Changes to the primary science curriculum? Rachel Jackson, National STEM Centre Primary Specialist is talking about changes in primary education and the new curriculum. She has put together a document which maps out the changes between the current and new curriculum, and has created lists of resources which link to the topic areas of the new curriculum.

Rebecca Haab rebecca haab 1160 Points

As I am currently going to school to be a teacher I have seen a lot of classroom opportunities that teachers could incorporate science into other subjects rather than trying to cram it in in the last 20 minutes of the school day. These responses really helped me with some insight into science in the classroom

Jacquelyn DaMore Jacquelyn DaMore 530 Points

Douina, You pose a great idea. I am currently a teacher candidate and I feel that there should be a specific science time in the classroom, however, since not a great deal of time is spent on it, teachers should also try to incorporate it into other subjects through out the day. For example, if students only have time to learn about a particular lesson or perform an experiment, their designated writing time can be used to reflect on what they did in science. There are many ways to weave science into other subjects- it’s just a matter of individual teachers’ ambition and planning. Emily brought up some good ideas :) Jacquelyn

 Nathan Spriggs 500 Points

That is a great question. I here it everyday between my wife, a 2nd grade teacher, and me the science teacher. Unfortunately, due to time restraints, science loses time. As a teacher who is having students for the first time in a formal science class, this is a big problem. Students do not have the background knowledge but even worse they do not know how to think critically and problem solving skills. I believe this can be accomplished in other subjects. Reading and writing are two areas that I have encouraged our elementary teachers to include science. With there being an emphasis on nonfiction, science topics can be a great way to impart knowledge. Then through other projects, using inquiry-based learning will definitely get the students thinking.

Cassandra Braden Cassandra Braden 1005 Points

Like many of you have posted, the lack of science found in the elementary school is very worrisome. Unfortunately, a lot of teachers are forced to eliminate science to meet time constraints of the school day. As a result, I fear that the students will not be prepared for middle/high school classes without adequate academic science experience and knowledge. I think that incorporating scientific topics and problem solving skills within other academic subjects is a good way to increase the amount of science in the elementary school setting though that alone is not the answer.

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 91088 Points

I think that is a great way to help get science into elementary grade curricula, Cassie. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on that. The new common core standards make science an excellent choice for cross curricular units with English/LA. There are so many outstanding science-related literature choices for reading, and in science there is always a need to provide evidence of any claims being made - which ties into the writing standards so nicely.

 Stephanie Coy 1720 Points

I think it depends on what your school or people you teach with will allow. My school is a science focus and it's hard to get it in during the day. With the time we have to spend teaching reading and math it's hard to get the time in. I have found that the schedule my school uses works well. We do one week of 3 days of science and 2 days of social studies and then flip the next week. This gives us time to focus on what we need instead of rushing through it. I wish I was able to use our science content during reading. I'm hoping what I get out of the National Conference will help me to be able to motivate my team members to want to do this as well..

Kathy Renfrew Kathy Renfrew 37108 Points

Stephanie, I was on the committee that chose NSTA'S Outstanding Trade Books and there are some very neat books which will fit into science you are already teaching. I will be presenting in Boston on Sunday and my workshop is How can NGSS, Common Core and the Outstanding Trade Books Equal Quality Science Instruction or something like that. I will be presenting one instructional sequence on 4th grade energy. The work I have done has been in collaboration with the elementary literacy coordinator and she will present with me. This work will also have been piloted with two heterogeneous 4th grade classes and revised if necessary. After the revision,the work will be posted. Kathy

Dana Hutto Dana Hutto 2245 Points

It's a good idea to integrate into other subjects. However, do not lose the hands-on application of science. Too often teachers think they are "teaching science" when they read or write about science. It is NOT the same thing!

Emily Apgood Emily Apgood 2655 Points

I love the article on discovery bottles, that is a wonderful way to introduce the nature of science, and inquiry lessons on an elementary level. Thanks!

Melissa Gucwa Melissa Gucwa 795 Points

The classroom I volunteer in right now has 30 minutes of time for science and social studies. So far, I have seem mostly science lessons. She does include some of her science topics in the writing portion of the day as well. So it seems possible.

Kathy Renfrew Kathy Renfrew 37108 Points

I am very excited about some of the work I am doing right now.I hope "instructional sequences" like mine help to make science more of a focus. The instructional sequence I have created with my ELA colleague really does integrate the science and the literacy. I am planning on piloting this in two weeks. The components are: Listening- ELA and Science Scientific Drawing Writing Read aloud Answering text dependent questions Inquiry Science Talk I am probably forgetting something also. Kathy

Lauren Stout Lauren Stout 1450 Points

I think that students learn best when all of their subjects are relating back to one another. I love when I am able to link a lesson with a previous lesson or current lesson in a different subject, it's great to see the students find the connection between the two topics and it makes it more memorable.

Erin Eckholt Erin Eckholt 545 Points

I think this is a great idea! We do this currently with three of the four science strands already. We are immersed in Common Core, so we had to look at how we could bring content into our literacy block (which is 3hours). Once you sit down and lay it all out, you can find that science, especially the NGSS tie in beautifully with writing and reading. Math and science go hand in hand, so you just have to spend a bit more time framing your questions around what concepts you are currently studying.

Michelle Fleming Michelle Fleming 4878 Points

The nature of science is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary. Within the field of science, disciplines are meant to be linked and connected, as well as rely on tools, information, and communication outside of the field of science - connecting to language arts, social science, and mathematics. If we look back to the history of science and technology, science was connected to other disciplines and motivated by questions - seeking the "truth". If we give elementary students more autonomy to independently focus and freedom to think about their investigations in the classroom, rather than verify results with each other and their teachers, we would be giving them more insight into how the field of science works. I hope together we can break the status quo and challenge students to think. How do you plan to change elementary education?

Tori Popoloski Tori Popoloski 1500 Points

Every bit of advice was great posted on here! Really helps out!

Arielle Conger Arielle Conger 510 Points

I student teach in a classroom and the teacher incorporates science through out the day, in all her lessons. It seems to be working pretty well, and the teacher doesn't seem rushed to fit it in the schedule, on top of everything else in the schedule, because she already had science worked into the day. And because the teacher is not pushing science, or making time to squeeze a focuses about of time for it in, the students seem to enjoy it more.

Kathy Renfrew Kathleen Renfrew 37108 Points

Arielle, It sounds like you and the students are very lucky if you are doing science all day. I was wondering if the students had a opportunity to be engaged with questions where they dug in and did some hands-on investigation? Kathy

Catherine JeanPaul Catherine JeanPaul 805 Points

I am a college student doing field hours in a 5th grade class. He definitely uses the strategy of including science in other subjects. He also teaches social studies, and he is often including concepts learned in science to his instruction. I've seen him even use helpful ways to transition the lesson by connecting the subjects using prior knowledge. I've learned many areas of certain strategies just from observing him this semester, and using subject content continuously was a prominent one.

Kathy Renfrew Kathy Renfrew 37108 Points

Catherine, I am very excited for you! I would have appreciated that type of opportunity when i was a college student like you and first learning. But I was not so lucky. I learned through experience over time. I also think it is great that you are learning in an elementary classroom that teaches science at all. Many elementary students don't have an opportunity to learn science because teachers are required to spend all the instructional time on mathematics and literacy. There are ways to make both work. I tried to do that in some recent work I did. I will attach a piece of it. I would love feedback from you and/or your collaborating teacher.

Jennifer Rahn Jennifer Rahn 67945 Points

One thing that I have noticed is that the focus in literacy is predominantly fiction. You might want to make an effort to have the literacy reflect more non-fiction, specifically science. There are different techniques for learning to read science and social studies, and hopefully this will better prepare the kids for later classes in science and social studies. Likewise, building an alliance with the teachers who design the math curriculum could help your students understand math concepts as they relate to science and experimental design. Even the fiction can be used to evaluate and discuss science and social studies concepts. Genetics and environmental issues come to mind.

Corrie Armstrong Corrie Armstrong 490 Points

I agree that it is very difficult to make sure there is enough time for science in the classroom. I was just place in a classroom for student teaching, and throughout my almost 80 hours of experience in this classroom I saw about 30 minutes of science instruction. It is very sad how math and language arts have basically taken over the classroom, and there is little time left for science instruction. Science was always my favorite subject in elementary school because it meant that we would get to explore, and I would love for my future students to get to engage in experimentation. I went to a science convention, and the speakers were talking a lot about including science in different areas of curriculum. Like having students go on a nature walk and have them write about their experience. Or have the students write poetry about the nature. This could possibly be a way to get more science into the classroom.

Melissa Blanco Melissa Blanco 540 Points

I do believe more science and math should be taught. However, in earlier grades such as kinder and fist I think the primary content should be phonics, reading and writing.

Muneeza Dhukka Muneeza Dhukka 755 Points

I feel like more science should be taught too. I feel like due to such specific requirements for math and reading/writing. Science becomes an afterthought. The teachers I work with do their best to get to some type of science everyday and I think the children really enjoy it. 

Brittney Ronayne Brittney Ronayne 975 Points

I think incorporating science into other subjects and  activities throughout the day is a great idea! It's unfortunate that the science time has lessened, but this is a great alternative!

Tara Miller Tara Miller 290 Points

I struggle with this, as well. We are so crunched for time and have so many struggling readers and writers that it can be hard to make time for science. I  am trying science in unit blocks this year. We do a reading and writing unit (I teach ELA and Science to two groups each day) and then a science unit for a couple of weeks straight.  I can't say I love the schedule, but I can say that when it's all said and done, I am getting pretty much the same amount of science teaching time I was before. It was hard to teach it for 30 minutes a day and have any continuity with lessons. At least now I can really dig in and spend a large chunk of time for a couple of weeks with the materials.

Mandy Koch Mandy Koch 165 Points

I have had the same concerns with having enough time for a separate science lesson, but I have managed it both ways.  I think that integrating science into the other subject areas allows students to make connections that they may not otherwise make.  I have integrated science into my reading and writing instruction, as well as, math when they are charting information and analyzing the data. 

Violet Cuadra violet cuadra 795 Points

I have definitely seen a decrease in science being taught in schools. Some of the lower grades put more emphasis on ELA and Math, thus making it hard for teachers to focus on Science and Social Studies. However, I think incorporating science with other subjects is a great idea and can be incredibly valuable to students. 

Victoria Huynh Victoria Huynh 540 Points

Incorporating science into other subjects is definitely a great idea! Many classrooms nowadays do not have enough time include a science lesson during the day, so integrating science into another subject is especially beneficial to the students. It may take more planning, but it is worth it in the end.

Sabrina Castro Sabrina Castro 4185 Points

I personally find it sad  that time for science has lessened greatly in the classroom, but I agree that it could be possible to incorporate science throughout the day and with other subjects, or in playtime like you suggested. I think that science is a subject that already incorporates reading, math and history so to have it incorporated into those subjects doesn't seem like a bad idea, but I also think that science has a various amount of concepts that need to be taught in isolation for students to be able to grasp what it is you'd like them to learn. In the end I believe that all subjects should be incorporated within each other, but also taught in isolation.

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