Science Lesson Planning Help

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by bewlove, Oct 1, 2016.

  1. bewlove

    bewlove Companion

    Jan 9, 2014
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    Oct 1, 2016

    Hello, fellow teachers!!!!

    I am just asking if you all have any planning tips for science (grade 4 specifically-although I'm looking for something kind of generic). I have been looking on TPT and on Pinterest, and of course I see adorable science projects and tri-fold activities, interactive notebooks, etc. I do use these pretty regularly and kids enjoy them. However, I want to include some activities that are a little bit higher order, and something that involves the kids to think/generate rather than just copy a definition down/fill in the blank and color the picture.

    By the time we transition, we realistically have about 25 minutes of science per day. I am looking for something that can be a "workhorse" so to speak, that has the students evaluating, generating, etc. on an as-used basis and that can be used regularly.

    One of the things that we have been doing is a RACE question (restate the question, answer all parts, complete sentences, evidence from the text). The students are given a single question (that is aligned to the lesson objective/standard) based on their text. We usually will read the text together or with a partner, and then they have to answer the question using the RACE model. There is a self score section, a peer score section, and then a teacher score section (and they self score and peer score before it ever comes to me, so they get that peer feedback and can make changes). We also included a "Keep, Trash, Cloud" vocabulary element, where the vocabulary words are listed on the paper, and they have to determine which are going to be helpful in their response (so they're evaluating the words, applying them to their response, etc.) I have really loved this model and it has been great so far. However, I don't want to burn the kids out on it. It's not all we do by any means, and we have fun craft-ivity type days, but we usually do at least one RACE question per section of the overall chapter (about 3 times every couple of weeks).

    I'm looking for something else that is a great, meaningful activity that can be applied to science, since we realistically don't have time to do experiments/projects every day. Any ideas? I don't really like them to just do the workbook pages because I feel that they don't retain enough of it. I want something that can be interchanged for different science standards, that doesn't require a ton of preparation/materials every day, and that is meaningful to the kiddos and keeps them thinking and challenged (not busy work).

    Thank you!!!!!!! I love picking other teachers' brains and I know you all probably have some awesome science ideas! Thank you!
  3. TheCoolScienceTeach

    TheCoolScienceTeach Rookie

    Feb 17, 2017
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    Feb 17, 2017

    Does your district provide you with any curriculum materials? Stemscopes, Mastering Science, BrainPop, etc? Do you have technology?
  4. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

    Jul 27, 2015
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    Feb 18, 2017

    I like your RACE and vocabulary models! That's the first I've heard of them.

    In today's educational system, (especially, I think in Christian schools, of which I'm most familiar), science tends to get pushed aside. This is not the teachers' fault, but the overload of all other activities that must be accomplished. In today's society, however, science education is essential. My small town that I grew up in is mostly hiring technologists and business professionals (which often includes an emphasis on science and technology). Today's informed voter also needs to be aware of science. Yet people my age who even grew up during the age of increased science education (during the space race) are severely lacking in scientific understanding.

    For example, I've heard the following from people my age. Gravity is caused by the rotation of the earth. There is no gravity in space so that's why things float on the space shuttle. Global climate is described by the weather in the United States. Weather forecasters really don't know how to predict probable weather; they just say stuff--and if they say 50% of rain, that's so they can't be wrong. Flu shots are useless; the way to prevent the flu is to avoid changes in temperature outside, especially if it's warm one day and cold the next. Scientists are people with Ph.D.'s who sit in an office and develop a theory, and this theory is just a whim or an idea they came up with.

    Sorry, had to sneak in a plug for science. Back to the OP, I feel you are fortunate to have a daily allotment of time for science. 25 minutes isn't long enough, but personally, I'm wondering if the time could be crunched a bit to include some experimentation and possibly even extra reading. There are fabulous library books available in science that I fear are being neglected by children. Perhaps the first few days of a unit emphasize the text and activities. I also agree, often workbook pages aren't as useful. During the textbook emphasis, include one or more demonstrations, either from yourself or from the Internet. If pre-set up, a demonstration often only takes 5-10 minutes of time. Then at the end of the unit, include actual experiments, since this is what science truly is. Perhaps the students can even design their own experiments, based on questions that developed during the text exploration. Another thought is to have the class compose, as a whole or in groups, a running tally of questions they've thought of. These questions could be further explored in free reading time during class or at home using library books. Another possibility for sneaking in experiments that I found useful is that often they can be integrated into math class. I didn't have this technology available, but during non-instructive time, perhaps web cams can be placed on the interactive white board.

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