Need New Ideas

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by ak721, Nov 2, 2008.

  1. ak721

    ak721 New Member

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    Nov 2, 2008

    This is my first year teaching science, and I need some ideas. The textbook I have uses words and sentences that are over a lot of my students' heads. If they read it on their own, they don't understand it. If we read it aloud in class, they still have trouble with it and then I have some who don't even pay attention to the reading. I incorporate activities to go with each lesson, but I was wondering if anyone had any fun ideas to teach the main points they need to know without reading aloud.
     
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  3. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Nov 3, 2008

    I'm not a science teacher, but just wanted to say, "Thank you" for recognizing that your text book (like almost all) are written at a reading level far beyond the grade level they are geared towards. This is a struggle I have at school as some teachers fail to recognize that just because a textbook has a grade level on the front of it doesn't mean that it is accessible to all (or even most) students in that grade.

    Are you tied to having to use the textbook? Presenting the information to the students in the form of a PowerPoint or a summary before having the students read from the text may increase their understanding. Preteaching the vocabulary will also help. Teach some lessons on using the text features and summarizing may also make the material more accessible. Having the students read and discuss the material in small groups may also help. If you don't need to use the text, the sky's the limit, but it will be more work for you to find alternate materials.
     
  4. Ranchwife

    Ranchwife Companion

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    Nov 3, 2008

    I teach science so this is what I do. Over the last few years, I have stopped using my textbook except as a reference tool. When I present information, we read the sections together as a class with me reading out loud. As I come to difficult terms or phrases, I stop and explain them to the class then I continue. If the textbook rambles on, I skip that section. I also pause at different ideas and have the kids discuss an idea or question with the person they sit next to. After we read the text together, I give them notes to take in their foldable graphic organizer. I make all my worksheets and tests based on the notes that I give them, not what is in the textbook. This allows me to weed out information that isn't required by the standard and it allows me to present information and assessments to the kids that are at a language level that they can understand.
     
  5. forchange

    forchange Rookie

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    Nov 4, 2008

    I know longer teach science (a great thing), but when I did, I had the same issue that you're describing. What I did was to buy picture/short books related to the standards that were written at a lower level. I also think it's really valuable to, on occasion use the harder text and support the students' understanding by teaching reading strategies to tackle the text book (since they will eventually have to). I would suggest using SQ3R, annotation, graphic organizers, read-alouds, partner work, and also specifically teaching them the features of text book writing (how the headings, for instance, can help you navigate through the text or how definitions usually follow new vocabulary).

    Also, I know that at our school we've been trying to add more narrative non-fiction or even science based fiction (like the Hot Zone or Jurassic Park). This seems to re-enforce science concepts AND increase enthusiasm for the subject.

    I think teaching science is so hard, but when our science teacher makes goo or does dissection, I get jealous because those are such natural attention grabbers and I have a hard time competing in Literacy.
     
  6. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Nov 4, 2008

    What science are you teaching? If you are teaching Biology I have a variety of sites that I find to be helpful for meaningful activities. I often use the text as a reference. Most information I give to the students as notes in a language they can understand.
     
  7. ak721

    ak721 New Member

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    Nov 4, 2008

    Thanks so much for all the ideas. I teach 7th grade life science. Currently I'm presenting the information in notes that I have put into my own words and the students fill in certain words that go along with those notes (had to adapt the way we do notes for some students). I use the textbook mainly for pictures, graphs, etc. Like I said before, I also do activities/labs for each lesson. I just didn't know if any others do this kind of method. So far, the kids seem to like it.
     
  8. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    Nov 5, 2008

    I taught a semester of 7th grade science. Some of the things the kids would do:
    Scientific method: which bubble gum blows the largest bubble?

    Kids surveyed fifty students about something (what’s your favorite candy sort of questions) and constructed a graph and answered follow up questions.

    Ecology Unit: Each student was provided with pictures of several organisms that live in the desert (we live in the desert) and students had to cut the pictures out and glue them onto a small poster paper to make a food web.

    We made pyramids to demonstrate the organization of living things (and I still do this in high school). Cut a small poster paper into a square and fold it into quarters. Cut alongside one of the folds (to the middle). You can then overlap two sides to create a pyramid. On one side the students drew an organism. On another they drew the organism in a population. On the third side they drew a community and in the inside they drew an ecosystem.

    We did something that I think was called “Hungry bears”. You prepare a limited amount of food (I used popcorn in small bags) and hide it around the room. There is not enough for everyone. This leads into a discussion about limiting factors.

    Some teachers had students create a small ecosystem in two 2L bottles with a plant and fish. http://www.usoe.k12.ut.us/curr/science/sciber00/8th/energy/sciber/biospher.htm

    Other:
    We would watch some Bill Nye (Spelling?). Kids still like him at that age.

    We made flubber (silly putty). You can find a recipe online. I don’t recall what part of the curriculum this project was tied into.

    You can make oblick (corn starch and water). This is nice for talking about the properties of a solid and a liquid.

    Scientist reports. We took the kids to the library. They did research on a famous scientist and wrote a report. This takes a lot of benchmarks at this age. Provide graphic organizers and goals for each day.

    Around Halloween we start studying body systems. We start with the skeletal system and kids make paper plate skeletons and label the bones.

    I also like to find guest speakers who can come in. When I was teaching 7th grade a local university had some grad students come and show the kids a variety of demos (dry ice, liquid nitrogen, strobe lights), the kids talked about that one for days.


    Most of my resources are now for high school. Some websites that might be helpful:
    http://www.biologyjunction.com/biology_coloring_worksheets.htm - coloring sheets
    http://www.smm.org/heart/lessons/top.html Some lessons
    http://plantsinmotion.bio.indiana.edu/plantmotion/projects/projects.html Plants in motion (really cool)
     

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