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Elementary Science

Amount of time for science in the classroom

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Miranda Hansen Miranda Hansen 2574 Points

Hello, I am currently a junior at the University of Northern Iowa and as I read farther into these posts I have noticed a trend when it comes to the amount of time teachers have for science in their classrooms. I spent a week at a school this fall and they had 15 minutes at the end of the day on Friday for a rushed science lesson. I thought there could have been more integration of science throughout the week, but I am not sure how else I would handle the lack of time other than using some of the reading time for science books or articles. I am looking for some more ideas on integrating science into the entire school day. 

An Vu An Vu 370 Points

I agree with you completely on the fact that science is being rushed/slowly pushed out to shift the focus to Math and Reading. In my school they have ancillary for Science at most twice a week. Because of that, I would really suggest building your library or integrating some aspects of STEM into the curriculum that you teach daily. For examples, I'm using books about natural phenomenons such as static electricity for their DO NOW every morning, when I teach non fiction expository text, I read aloud books about elementary physics that I know the kids love.

Janice Venezuela Janice Venezuela 2935 Points

Hello, I am currently a preservice teacher and I have done observations at many schools throughout my undergraduate career. I have noticed that between the schools, the types of administration, and the types of teachers varies throughout each school. Some schools emphasize on science to be one of the courses teachers teach for a long period. There are also some teachers who do not have much of an interest in science, as they do on other subjects, and the time spent on science is very minimal. However, one strategy I have learned in my classes is to create unit plans. A science topic can be stretched out into a math lesson, or even a social studies lesson. If that doesn't work out, I know setting up a schedule ahead of time and planning the amount of time you'd like to spend on each subject would be the most effective. If neither of these strategies work out, then you should speak to the principal or assistant principle at the school to see what they suggest. Good luck!

Danielle Cavazos Danielle Cavazos 450 Points

I agree with you 100% that science is being rushed through at the end of the day or even completely left out. I believe schools simply do not give teachers enough time for it because their main concern is teaching reading, writing, and math. I am currently student teaching in a 1st grade classroom and we usually get 20 minutes to teach the lesson AND do an activity at the very end of the day. By the end of the day, most of my students are already checked out. It doesn't help that there is only a short amount of time to teach science, let alone it being taught at the very end of the day. I think some ways you can integrate science more is by giving the students a warm-up each morning that pertains to the science lesson taught the day before. I believe this might help students review and really think about the lesson that was taught so quickly. You could also give the students take home science experiments. I understand some students may not have all the materials needed at home so, you could have modified versions available or provide the materials for them.

Julie Alexander Julie Alexander 280 Points

Yes - this is often the norm in elementary classrooms due to fear of falling behind on test scores. This also often happens to Social Studies. I have been an Elementary Science Specialist and would tell you that the best thing to do is schedule regular time for the Science- do as many hands-on things as you can being sure to incorporate reading, writing and Math- using time allocated for those subjects. If students are using interactive science notebooks you can do that really well and make your instruction seamless and integrated- which research shows is the best way to teach anyhow!!! Teach the skills in the classes- like if you want students to graph their lab results- teach graphing in Math class then have students do an activity in science where they have to collect data- then in Math - come back to it- okay- let's graph the data we collected today. Can you find a reading to support what you are doing in science? Ok let's read and discuss what happened in class today- does this article support what we found out or does it raise new questions? etc

Sydney Murillo Sydney Murillo 3315 Points

You can always include science in your literacy lessons, you can also include science in social studies. Science doesn't just have to be at it's designated time you just have to be creative in ways you can integrate your lessons.

Loribeth Mau Loribeth Mau 448 Points

That's a challenge for many of our teachers. You just have to know that science can be a strong gateway into math, reading, and writing. Integration is key. Use science text for your interactive read aloud or shared reading. You can use a non-fiction science text to discuss text features, but also having students make a claim about something and find evidence from the text to support their reasoning. If you're teaching upper grades the students will also have to link their claim and evidence with reasoning. I've also used science-based fiction text like, Rosie Revere Engineer or The Three Little Pigs - An Architectural Tale to engage students in engineering concepts or to present an engineering challenge.

Instead of teaching a lesson on measurement, I had students roll an object down a ramp and use rulers to measure how far the object rolled. You can find which science lessons lend themselves to math concepts and substitute your math lesson for a science investigation.

And then honestly, the reality of teaching is that you're always going to be pressed for time. I know how meaningful and important science is for my students, so I do science days. Every Tuesday is a shortened day and on that day, I teach science THE ENTIRE DAY! You do what's best for your students. You don't need permission to teach science. *wink* Good luck to you!

Natashia Silva Natashia Silva 445 Points

I am a student teacher. I am currently experiencing the same problem at my school. Teachers are only given a short window to teach science. I just posted something asking for some quick, fun, and engaging ways to teach science that will be satisfying enough given the time constraints. I really loved your way of integrating it into different subjects. This is genius! I never really thought about this way. Thank you!

Griselda Cazares Griselda Cazares 580 Points

I agree strongly with you when you say integration is key! I am student teaching in Kindergarten and we do not have Science on our lesson plans for the day but my teacher makes sure to incorporate it somehow during the week. For example, for shared reading throughout the week she chooses books that have to do with some science concept. This week we are learning about the plant cycle and although our focus is on the shared reading of the book, we teach them about the plant and even planted bean seeds at the end of the week! The following week we read books on insects and went outside to see what kind of bugs we saw. Next week with our non fiction books the students will create a poster to present to their classmates about the bug they learned about during independent reading time. I think that although we are not given time to teach science concepts it is important to show children about it especially since we want them to know that it is all around them!

Taylor Price Taylor Price 220 Points

Hello! I am an undergrad at the University of Arkansas. I noticed in my field placement that very little time was spent on science instruction on the days that I visited. Unfortunately, on some days when there were assemblies, extra programs, or anything out of the ordinary, science was the area that got cut. I agree with you that science could be integrated into other disciplines, such as math or social studies. For example, you could discuss the science behind historical events by discussing the trade winds, why they occur, and how they were used by early people for navigating the ocean. In my literacy classes, I have learned that science can be incorporated into classroom libraries by choosing appropriate books or through shared reading as mentioned above. Best of luck to you in finding how to integrate science into your teaching throughout the day!

Sarah Halford Sarah Halford 190 Points

I have also witnessed this lack of science in the classroom during my Practicum placements. The thing I worry about, though, is the way some teachers try to incorporate it through literacy. I have heard of many teachers who simply read a book about a science-related topic, do a comprehension assignment on the reading, and call that science. I think it's important to remember to include scientific discourse when integrating science into literacy lessons. I assume letting students have an active role in scientific exploration and inquiry also helps tremendously. Literacy and science truly can go hand-in-hand, and I would love to hear ideas of how some elementary teachers specifically use literacy to promote this scientific inquiry and investigation!

Darlyng Trujillo Darlyng Trujillo 421 Points

Hello, First and foremost I want to thank you all for sharing because it has opened my eyes to understand how science has been thrown under the bus in the education field. In fact many classes around the world do not give science the importance it deserves. The teaching program has allowed me to do my student-teaching in a first grade math/science class and it has been a joy to work with students in discovering how different things are created. In addition, I agree that students do not learn based off a science textbook but learn by hands-on activities. Educators should encourage students to participate in class discussions, help bring science to life, and demonstrate connection to the real world. To successfully engage students in science activities it is highly important to make class assignments fun and creative. There are great ways to introduce science lessons, for example, the teacher could use videos, books, or open discussions to initiate students learning. An effective teacher encourages and scaffolds students learning development to achieve academic success. Remember to make an impact in learning because teachers could be the only scientist that students will ever know.

Kendall Sikes Kendall Sikes 55 Points

I think the best way to handle the lack of time scheduled for science is to try and incorporate science or stem activities into other subjects!

Katie Koch Katie Koch 150 Points

Hello, I am a junior elementary education major, and I have also noticed a lack of focus on science in elementary classrooms. When I was at my field placement last semester, I never experienced any science lessons, and I visited throughout several different time periods of the day. It is not difficult to incorporate science in the classroom because it is happening all around us. I think that it is crucial for all teachers to dedicate a good portion of the school day to science, and a great way to start that out is by making sure all of their children have science notebooks, so they can jot down their ideas, opinions, and observations from their science lessons.

Lindsey Ballinas Lindsey Ballinas 730 Points

I am having the same problem. I am student teaching in a Kindergarten class and they do not designate a time in the day to spend on science. They consider learning about animals a science lesson but I think there should be more time foe science especially for young eager students.

Taylor Ponsonby Taylor Ponsonby 700 Points

Hello Miranda, I definitely have noticed the same thing, particularly in the lower grade levels. Last semester, I was a developing teacher in a first grade classroom, and felt as though not enough time was spent with science. It sometimes felt as though too much emphasis was placed on reading, writing and math. When it came time for science, it felt (just like you mentioned) like it was rushed. I particularly remember one instance where my cooperating teacher had the students measuring the length of various objects. The students were having a great time because it was a fun, hands-on activity, yet, because the day was almost over, there wasn't have enough time to really enjoy the lesson. I think in this case, it would be a better idea to spend a little bit more time towards the middle of the day with science. This would also be a great activity to help refocus their attention. Initially, I did not think about incorporating science into other subjects, but I think it's a wonderful idea!

Alondra Hernandez Alondra Hernandez 795 Points

At the Elementary School I am Student Teaching at, Science is also not given enough time. Schools have their focus mainly on Math and Reading that they neglect subjects like Science and Social Studies. Integrating Science and Social Studies into Math and Reading or vice versa seems like a great idea to cover every subject. As a student teacher, I have not seen actual ways to integrate subjects. There is a lot of ways that this can be done and I have gathered many ideas from this forum. I will create a lesson in my classroom where Science is brought into my reading lesson so students work on their reading skills while also learning about Science.

Shirin Nayani Shirin Nayani 405 Points

Even though there is not a lot of time allocated for science the students are using their fives senses to learn. If the teacher can he or she could cut out some time from reading and math and give it to science so the teacher has more time to teach science. During reading and writing teachers can have their students read about different animals and their habitats. The teacher can also have the students write about their favorite animals.

Yessica Castillo Yessica Castillo 690 Points

Hi Miranda! I couldn't agree more. Many teachers struggle with finding time to introduce science concepts during their day. I remember this from when I was in Elementary School and when I discussed this with my mentor she mentioned that when she started teaching it was one of her biggest concerns too because her students were not receiving the science content they needed. She showed me how she implements science during her literacy block and she is able to not only teach the students basic spelling and grammar but she is able to do so while teaching science. This week we are starting our ocean animal research so the students will be introduced to vocabulary as well as researching techniques. We have done this with many topics such as plant needs, animal needs, living and non-living etc.

Taylor Luu Taylor Luu 365 Points

Hello Miranda! I am currently teaching at a title one school where science is not as prioritized as reading and writing. Of course, my school is 90% Hispanic, in order for students to learn science they need to read and write. But I also find my students asking me science questions because sometimes the things they read in school makes them curious. I am currently a writing teacher so I try to incorporate a little bit of science into my writing lessons. I give them facts at the end of class or have them write about what they wonder or how things work!

Kohleen Mendoza Kohleen Mendoza 650 Points

Hey Miranda! That is quite unfortunate that you observed a school where science does not share an equal amount of time as other subjects. I have had a fair share of observing classes like that too. However, this semester in my first year being a student teacher I was very fortunate to be placed in a team of 4th grade teachers who stress the importance of science. Some important advice I got from them was trying to incorporate a little science in different contents (cross-curriculum) and learning how to plan time-efficient science lessons, like chunking out lesson throughout the week if the science content is extensive.

Jay Miller Jay Miller 2210 Points

I agree about trying to get science into different content areas. It's unfortunate that other content areas are pushed so hard that science is almost forced to the background in a lot of schools. If that is the case, there are many ways to incorporate science into other areas to help supplement their science education. For instance, you could choose literature that involves science and incorporate it into reading lessons. Hopefully the educational environment will come back to putting just as big of importance on Science as they do in other areas.

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