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Elementary Science

Inquiry based learning in Elementary Schools

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AnneDee Rylee Annedee Rylee 190 Points

I am in an Undergraduate course called teaching science, but I was wondering how do teachers make time for inquiry based learning in schools. There is only so much a teacher can teach in one day, how do you squeeze it all in?


Thanks for your thoughts!

Al Byers Al Byers 4478 Points


I appreciate your question, and the nature of the challenge behind it? I might ask, how are you allocating your time now, and what is the "dedicated" time for science (if that even exist)?

I am married to a 5th grade elementary teacher, who teaches reading, and I think some of the "strategies" I see her use is an integrated approach, whereby, mathematics, literacy, and an inquiry of particular science phenomena (or smaller concepts) is embedded and closely intertwinned versus attempting to conduct separate "stand-alone" flew blown multi-day experiments.

I know some teachers enjoy using NSTA's Picture Perfect Science Lessons that build inquiry-based lessons off of "trade readers" so there is already sone established tie-in/linkages. I think they are very popular and well received.

Also, If you are in an NGSS state (or one that has adapated the NGSS), there are sequences/progressions of learning, performance expectations that cut across multiple lessons (or a unit), and the NGSS@NSTA web site has some tools that may aid in your quest, including a list of lessons that might be "briefer" but still relevant and achievable. I think having students asking questions, making observations of phenomena/engineering challenges, collecting/analyzing data, developing/using models to help in their understanding/designs, and then using the data to support their claims as evidence...can be done in smaller "chunked" segments, again, possibly interspeced/integrated into a STEM topic/storyline, where they might be reading non-fictional text as background literature, applying mathematics to support the same...and then engaging in the science/engineering practices for the "inquiry" segment of learning.

So I'd suggest, taking some small steps on looking at integrated STEM lessons as a way to possibly move more in the direction you desire. Cutting up an already overburdened schedule to "carve out" time for a separate discipline, in light of standardized testing, and pacing guides indeed is a challenge...but elementary grade levels/schools often times encourage cross-curricular lesson integration!

Not sure this is a "solution" to your query, but food for thought! Thanks for forwarding this question and I'm sure others may even have examples of the approaches suggested above!

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