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Elementary Science

Approaching Misconceptions

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Annika Krieg Annika Krieg 80 Points

My name is Annika Krieg and I am a pre-service teacher at Wartburg College in Waverly, IA. In my methods class, we've discussed the importance of explaining and dispeling various misconceptions students may have about Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and other subjects as well. It is my understanding that misinterpretations of the scientific process, stereotypes of scientists, and many others are the reason why we are seeing less and less interest in science these days. My question of concern is how to approach students' misconceptions using a method which they can understand and relate to. How can I get my students to understand and obtain a significant takeaway? I would greatly appreciate your responses and advice. Sincerely, Annika Krieg Pre-Service Teacher Wartburg College '20

Kennedy Kraus Kennedy Kraus 2515 Points

Hi Annika! I am also a pre-service teacher studying at the University of Northern Iowa. I am also currently taking a Science Methods course and we have touched on misconceptions for students in class. One of the topics that we have been talking a lot about is different phenomena. If we present phenomena to the students, it may show them their misconceptions so they can have a new understanding of the topic. If we physically are showing our students the specific phenomena, it will, hopefully, change many of the students' misconceptions so they are able to develop those new ideas that are scientifically correct. 

Abby Swiatly Abby Swiatly 2085 Points

Hello Annika, my name is Abby and I go to UNI and am an early childhood and elementary education major. We have been learning about misconceptions in my science methods course also. I think that you pose a very important question and would like to see reponses from other people because I am not sure how to answer it myself. 

Emily Cook Emily Cook 2535 Points

Hi Annika! I am also a pre-service teacher. I am a senior Elementary Education major at the University of Northern Iowa. I am also in a science methods calss. We have talked a lot about misconceptions as well. We have learned that it is important to acknowledge misconceptions in your classroom before beginning the lesson. We created a mini unit with five lesssons. Within each lesson we had to describe common misconceptions specific to that lesson. Being aware of common misconceptions is beneficial for teachers when planning their lessons and activities. Teachers can plan lessons around the misconceptions to help students understand the why or how. It is important teachers do this so students do not get confused. Although we should not tell the students the exact reason why their misconception is a misconception, it is essential to the students learning to lead them in the right direction into figuring it out themselves. I thought doing the mini unit and having to determine commone misconceptions prior to writing out the lesson plan helped create a more detailed and enriched lesson plan for the students. All students deserve to be successfull, it's our job to help them get there!

Madyson Walker Madyson Walker 3195 Points

Hello! I am also a pre-service teacher, studying at the University of Northern Iowa. I am taking a Science methods class currently and one of our main topics was how to pinpoint these misconceptions and diagnose them in a way that students learn the correct information and it will stick for them. The main thing that we have learned from talking about misconceptions is that pinpointing them before you even begin your lesson will be an important step in learning how to teach it to the students in an enriching and enlightening way. One website that our professor shared with us was This website lists out common, student misconceptions under specific topics. This website can be a helpful resource for you with your future teaching. When knowing the common misconceptions before planning your lesson, it can give you an advantage in forming your lesson around the misconceptions that you want to target and will allow you to diagnose these early on. Looking online at education-based websites can also be another asset to you as you look for common misconceptions. If these resources still don't cover everything that your students bring to the table (and lord knows it probably won't! :p) you will begin to see early on in your lesson what students are having issues with and can begin to ask questions (without giving too much away) to pinpoint exactly what their prior thoughts were. You can then structure the following lessons around this! Hope this helps!

-Madyson Walker

Rebecca Murray Rebecca Murray 2215 Points

Hi Annika!

I am a current student at the University of Northern Iowa. I am taking Science Methods currently and we have been working on misconceptions a lot. We are working on writing a unit plan and we have been talking a lot about misconceptions kids might have with our topics. We need to show the students misconceptions to clear there thinking. We can allow our students to share their thinking and we can talk about their misconceptions as a class. I think talking about them as a class and showing your students will clear student’s misconceptions so they can figure out the correct way. I hope this helps you!

Sarah Moyer Sarah Moyer 2275 Points

Hi Annika, 

I am currently a student at the University of Northern Iowa and I am also in a science methods course. Like many of my colleagues have mentioned phenomena is a great way to show and discuss misconceptions. Something that is super important before any topic is to understand students prior knowledge. While discussing misconceptions make sure that new misconceptions aren't being formed and that the students are the ones figuring out the facts through experiments and different activities. If the students realize their misconception is infact wrong this allows them to explore deeper on why they weren't correct. 

Audrey Klunenberg Audrey Klunenberg 2900 Points

Hi Annika,

I am an undergraduate student at the University of Northern Iowa and am enrolled in a science methods course. We've discussed the importance of addressing misconceptions but we've also talked about the importance of students coming up with their own explanations. One way in which teachers can help students come up with good explanations is through productive questioning and talk moves. Productive questions can challenge students' thinking or be used to make their observations more precise and arguments stronger. Talk moves can be used to help understand students' thinking and where their misconceptions may come from. I've attached a document that you may want to look at!

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