Carolina Biological OSE - July 2024


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Use of Scipacks in teaching

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Rochelle Tamiya Rochelle Tamiya 4095 Points

I'm having quite a difficult time using the scipacks in my curriculum. They are filled with super information but often too high level for our 7th graders. I learn a ton from them, although I am a biology major (helps to refresh all of the details that "slipped" my mind in college). Any ideas? Maybe I'm navigating them wrong? I have heard of teachers who have used lessons directly from the sciguide. I've used information and ideas from the sciguide but not lessons in their entirety. Can someone give me some insight? I would love to better use the great information provided in these sciguides but again, find it hard to manipulate for my class.

Shanae Hatchell Shanae Hatchell 5820 Points

I am also having the same problem. Let me know if you get any individual responses with suggestions! In addition to being very high level for 7th graders, the SciPacks are very long and while I have tried to use portions of it only, preceding sections of the SciPacks usually give one the background knowledge needed for the following sections. I have quickly browsed many of the sciguides and they seem to be a bit more "teacher friendly." The different links can be a bit confusing to navigate though. Anyways, let me know if you have any success! :)

Shanae Hatchell Shanae Hatchell 5820 Points

I am also having the same problem. Let me know if you get any individual responses with suggestions! In addition to being very high level for 7th graders, the SciPacks are very long and while I have tried to use portions of it only, preceding sections of the SciPacks usually give one the background knowledge needed for the following sections. I have quickly browsed many of the sciguides and they seem to be a bit more "teacher friendly." The different links can be a bit confusing to navigate though. Anyways, let me know if you have any success! :)

Tamara Leong Tamara Leong 1015 Points

I agree with the both of you. I, too, find the scipacks to be very useful & informational. I wanted to use some of its text to provide the students with additional readings, but was afraid they may be too difficult for them. I also looked into the sciguides in hopes to find something that I could pull straight off from the sites, but received no luck. However, what I find to be very helpful are the various posts from other educators. Often times, they share & post many valuable websites I find very useful. I've used a couple worksheets & activities(though tweaked it a little) with my students. Only thing is, it takes time to search & read through each post, but it's well worth the time!!

Carol McKenna Carol McKenna 1035 Points

The SciPak helped me set a process or sequence regarding the topic. I often feel that this is the hardest thing to do. What to teach first? How to tie one topic to another?

Jennifer Rahn Jennifer Rahn 67955 Points

I agree the SciPacks provide a structure to the content. I would also suggest looking at the accompanying SciGuide for alternative sequencing for the content depending on the grade level of your students. Also included in the SciGuides are links and additional resources and lesson plans.

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92326 Points

Hi Rochelle and thread participants,
As Jennifer said, the SciPacks have accompanying SciGuides that are meant to provide lesson plans, etc. for you to use in your classroom. One of the things neat about the Sci Guides is that there is more than one for each SciPack. Unlike the SciPacks that were created to increase teacher content knowledge, the SciGuides are created by grade levels to be used by teachers to teach the topic. So for example - for living things, there is a separate elementary and middle school SciGuide, each called Organisms.
Organisms SciGuide for K-4
Organisms SciGuide Grades 5-8
Some of the animations in the SciPacks can be found in the SciGuides, plus so much more to help you teach the topic. I hope this helps.

Juliet Kim Juliet Kim 2340 Points

In the past, I have successfully used SciPacks to teach science concepts to my fifth graders. I agree that most of the text is too difficult for younger students. I think the most helpful part of SciPacks are the interactive activities. I found that the interactive activities really illustrated complex ideas clearly to my students and helped them understand the content. I also noticed that my students were more engaged and enthusiastic when I used the interactive activities from the SciPacks.

Loren Nomura Loren Nomura 4055 Points

Our school uses the 3D cell model, where students build a 3D version of a cell, often from recyclable materials to be eco friendly and save money. You could also have them do it in the form of a cell story, too. Just teach the basic parts of a cell. I am from the Waipahu complex and I know that the intermediate students there learn about cell parts because a lot of it is review for them, so I imagine your 7th graders would be on a similar page. You could also give them choices, like instead of doing a model they could write a story or a travel brochure.

Rochelle Tamiya Rochelle Tamiya 4095 Points

Thank you every one for your responses. Yes, Loren, my students have done the 3D Cell model using recyclables which I've morphed into creation of power point analogies - cell structure and functions. After completing 3 years of NSTA Coursework (approximately 8 classes), I have an increasing respect for the time and efforts that were put into developing such a valuable resource for me. I go agree that the purpose for the scipacks are teacher based (refresher courses) while the sciguides are guides for developing lesson planning. I have though found that the content of the sciguides are sometimes hard to execute because it requires scaffolding of lessons prior to and after delivery. Could someone please help me in understanding how to navigate the sciguides besides clicking on interested parts (video, hands-on activity, reading,etc..)? I think I'm just having some challenges with aligning the appropriate information with the lessons provided? I really want to use the lessons that were already developed for our use but just needed coaching on the best way to go about this. In the past, I've made up my own entire lessons using information that I learned from the scipacks, but whey re-invent the wheel when NSTA has done such a great job teaching us teachers? I want to be able to maximize the use of such great tools...thank you NSTA!

Kellee Kelly Kellee Kelly 7800 Points

Yes, I too believe that the content is way above my 3rd grade level.However, the SciPacks are helpful because I have never been a big science person and so I do not know any of this content. The SciPacks have helped me to have a better understanding of the complete concept. This way I know the portion I need to teach to third graders, and how it will eventually sequence in their future years. I have not used any of the content from the SciPacks or SciGuides in my lesson plans, and some of the SciGuides seem better than others. I am just starting and have only written 2 lessons which I tweaked off of lessons I found in the SciGuide. Overall, I enjoy learning this stuff, and may even do some SciPacks that are not required for my professional development to help me learn a little more in some other science content areas.

Carolyn's post mentioned something that I wanted to highlight. SciPacks were created to support teachers in their need for content knowledge. I don't think they were ever intended to be used by students. Hope that helps! Kendra

Alicia Mochizuki Alicia Mochizuki 1470 Points

Hi Everyone, I seriously thought I was the only one having the same problem. There is so much information in the scipacks and what to teach is difficult. I like using the sciguides to help create lesson plans. It provides sample lesson plans and links to other websites. It's a good starting point. I also try and focus on a single concept in the scipacks (e.g., the living reef).

Arleen Bourcier Arleen Bourcier 1570 Points

I really enjoy all of the SciPacks that I've viewed so far. I feel as if they are a refresher for the things I've learned and since forgotten from highschool and college. Although I'm enjoying these I am trying to bring the informatin down to the kindergarten level that I need to relay the information at. I'm keeping it really simple and using what I can that seem relevant for my grade level.

Rochelle Tamiya Rochelle Tamiya 4095 Points

Hi everyone! Thank you for your comments...all so very valuable. I do want to clarify one thing though...please know that the intention of this thread was not to say that the scipacks are at all "too high" level for use. I find that EVERY SINGLE scipack that I've read through was priceless!! The information shared and the time spent to make the content easy enough for teachers to learn/refresh is superb - I wouldn't want anything less. I wanted to make sure that I didn't leave a negative tone or impression about them. My intention was simply to ask for feedback on how people used the scipacks in their middle or elementary school/class curriculum. The following scipacks are the ones that I am focusing on: Nutrition Chemical Reactions Explaining Matter with Elements, Atoms and Molecules I was having some difficulty trying to take the information and making it relevant to my curriculum/units for that particular time frame. For example, last quarter's unit was scientific method/process and I had completed the chemical reactions scipack. What I found useful for me, besides the ideas from the sciguides was through community forums. There are so many teachers/advisors who are willing to share their great ideas about how and what they did to "create" a lesson using the content from the scipacks and fitting them within current units. I think that it was getting harder for me as this is my 3rd year taking the NSTA courses and thus less "choice" in available scipacks to choose from for the coursework...BUT...again I am grateful for that because it forces me to explore areas outside of my Biology background. Real growth happens when you are uncomfortable and find that you need to stretch and feel the "pain" for a little while...and I must say, I've learned so much thus far....looking forward to more!

Cristey Kagawa Cristey Kagawa 2980 Points

The SciPacks are definitely helpful for me because they refresh my memory on science topics often forgotten or they teach me a lot about something I never knew before. I agree with most of the previous posts about the SciPacks being a bit difficulty for elementary aged students, but I often use the interactive videos because they help the students visually see what I am trying to teach. I found that using the SciGuides are also helpful. They are a bit overwhelming to look at, but I usually select only what I want to use and what is appropriate for my students. For example, I taught my 6th grade students the digestive system and nutrition. I used the interactive videos about digestion and the quizzes from the SciPack, and used part of the SciGuide lesson, which used McDonald’s and nutrition. My students loved the lesson!! They could easily relate to it and were able to continue learning about nutrition when they were out in their community.

John Pappas John Pappas 795 Points

I love this idea, how do you accomplish this in your classroom? Does each student have their own computer or do you print the material from the page and give it to the students. I honestly have never thought about doing this. Sounds like a great idea because they are filled with useful information. I believe this could be a great resource for exceptional students who need to be pushed further and need harder material.

Thank you Carolyn, I didn't know they offered SciGuides for specific grades. I will have to spend some time looking at those. Also thanks Cristey, for the idea to use the interactive videos and quizzes to help your students understand concepts. I bet they love that! I plan on doing the same. Thanks for the suggestion. I wanted to add that I appreciate the misconceptions that are discussed in the Pedagogical Implications, located at the end of each SciPack. It helps explain what concepts students will have difficulty with at what age. These resources explain why students may not understand something and helps limit what you should teach in each grade level.

Loren Nomura Loren Nomura 4055 Points

I have had the same problem as you, using the SciPack contents to teach the students. The basic concepts are the same though. I teach mostly 9th graders and they too have a hard time with some of the content in the SciPacks. One thing I have found useful is to use more of the lesson plan ideas in the SciGuides - they often align to one of the SciPacks anyway. Often times you will have to modify them yourselves manually, since you know your students best.

Jennifer Rahn Jennifer Rahn 67955 Points

I recently went through the new Heredity and Variation SciPack and discovered several animations that would be great additions to the usual talking points for mini-lessons on the topics covered. One of the things I think students find challenging is the concept of genetic mutation. The SciPack does an excellent job of explaining why genes are not exact copies, and uses some useful interactive graphics to differentiate them. The students may not understand the text, but the graphics could be used to show the students types of genetic errors. They would be great additions to a smartboard presentation.

Monica Chavez Monica Chavez 1500 Points

The sci packs obviously offer a wealth of knowledge and scaffold it logically. I really liked the Science and Food Safety" Sci packet and have been struggling with how to implement it into my "Cell unit" that I begin this week. I have my students do a pathogen research Glog poster (an on-line virtual poster) and this sci guide offers great resources for me to pull out, especially the section on harmful and helpful bacteria. I'm just struggling with how to make it accessible to my students and not just for me to pull out and use. At least it gives me a great jumping off point to use as a reference and example for my students. I've been looking for an activity that would reveal students' prior knowledge on cells. As I'm writing this, I could ask students what about if bacteria are made of cells and if so, how many. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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