Science Teachers....anyone ever use FOSS before?

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by Nick_A, Aug 19, 2007.

  1. Nick_A

    Nick_A Rookie

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    Aug 19, 2007

    We've got those sets for 7th and 8th grade this year, along with the Prentice Hall books. Have any of you used this series before? What do you think of FOSS? Any strategies or ideas you'd like to share?
     
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  3. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Aug 19, 2007

    Why do you have FOSS AND a textbook? From my understanding the kits have everything you need from a teacher's guide, to readings, and all of the labs. Is there really any need for a textbook? I have absolutely no experience with FOSS kits, but I kinda wish we had them.
     
  4. Nick_A

    Nick_A Rookie

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    Aug 20, 2007

    The FOSS kits definitely have readings and plenty of supplemental materials. I couldn't tell you why we have both (I just moved down t0 7th/8th grade science this year- taught 5th and 6th last year), but we do. My understanding is that the curriculum people were afraid there was not enough in the FOSS series, and thought that in addition to it, there should be a "standard" textbook.

    I'm kind of excited about using FOSS this year, because they give you EVERYTHING (and it will save me trips to the store).
     
  5. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    Aug 20, 2007

    I used FOSS, but in 2nd and 3rd grades. I had a problem with it because it did not hit many standards, especially 3rd grade. I imagine that it might cover less as the grade level gets higher and the standards get more complex. That's probably what the textbook is for. I also did not like the way the students were assessed. I felt it was to subjective to base an entire grade on. Good things about FOSS were that it has videos showing you how to do everything so you look like a pro. The kids will love the hands on science experiments. Make sure you read through the binder carefully so you will be prepared. There are often things that you will have to go out and buy. In 2nd grade there was a bunch of liquids of different consistancy I had to buy for an experiment. In 3rd grade I had to take a week to prepare one of the props for an experiment. It required me to make mock rocks, and I had to bake them. It's fun, but depending on the experiment a lot of work for the teacher.
     
  6. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Aug 20, 2007

    That would be so cool to have everything right there in a box! It would be so much less stress and work on the teacher. However, like cheery said, you should make sure that all of the standards are addressed. If not, I'm sure that's what the textbook is for. Plus, you can supplement it with your own labs and activities, and also lecture. I am going to see if the science department could start buying these kits. I don't know how long it will be before we actually get that kind of money though.
     
  7. daWarden

    daWarden New Member

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    Aug 22, 2007

    I have used FOSS (SALI and ELI) for three years. It was forced on us by the district. This same district still does not realize that the curriculum does not address the standards being assessed by the state. We still resorted to using another text as well as other resources to make up for missing information.
    The sepup kits are great and the hands on labs and activities are exciting. They just don't give the kids what they need.
     
  8. Nick_A

    Nick_A Rookie

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    Aug 22, 2007

    That's my biggest problem with the FOSS kits. It's also why I'm glad they're keeping the textbooks as well. In the teacher's guide to the kits, it says that they "felt it more important that students learned a lot about a little, rather than a little about a lot." Whatever your personal feelings on the validity of that statement are, it doesn't change the fact that the state standards take the opposite approach, and at the end of the day, they win.

    I guess what I don't understand is why the need for these kits in the first place. The Prentice Hall series, which we used (and will continue to use) had lots of great activities and labs- it was not as if this series was lacking in that particular area. I'm at a loss as to what the benefit of this series is.
     
  9. daWarden

    daWarden New Member

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    Aug 23, 2007

    The kits, do indeed, keep the teacher from running to the store for supplies. However, at $10k a whop, I see them as a budget depleter. Hopefully, you pace yourself correctly so you don't end up with a 7th and 8th grade lab on the same day because it just wont happen. I found it sometimes took longer to set up for the activity than it did to actually complete it. Oh yeah copy, copy, copy ALL (Sept. - June)labsheets NOW.
     
  10. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Aug 23, 2007

    I would like a program like this because I struggle teaching science. I love it, but I don't know of a great way to teach it. I have tons of activities and labs to do, but as far as giving them the info, that is what I struggle with. Until I find a better way, we are going to use the textbook as an outline. My school is required to give direct instruction, so I can't get super creative. It basically is me teaching them, although I can use all of the direct teaching methods such as kinesthetic learning, groups, etc. On days I give direct instruction on a topic, I will use the textbook to take notes from and I will elaborate on the topic. What do you guys suggest? What do you all do?
     
  11. Nick_A

    Nick_A Rookie

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    Aug 23, 2007

    Direct instruction plays an important role in my science classroom. I do all of the activities and inquiries and everything, but the students need to learn the theories and facts behind what they're seeing in lab. I never, ever, have students read aloud from the textbook. I do use lecture, but I break it up with questions and discussions. I also incorporate a lot of technology into the lessons- I show a lot of video clips (United Streaming is fantastic!!), photos, and my 8th graders do a lot with their graphing calculators- we do a LOT of graphing of data.

    But, to directly answer your question- when I am lecturing, I do take some notes from the textbook, and expand on them with the students.
     
  12. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Aug 24, 2007

    Hi Nick,

    Thanks for the tip. I too plan on lecturing using the book for a guidline and pictures. I won't have the kids read out loud, but I will have them read along as I play the CD, and some times I will have them partner read and such. That way it puts the vocabulary into context. They're reading it, they're hearing it, they get a visual on it (I call people up front and do some sort of visual for the word), they write it down in their notes, etc. So, they are being exposed to it multiple times. I too break the lecture up and do little activities and ask LOTS of questions throughout my lesson. I am also using an interactive notebook this year, so their final activity will be to process their notes on the left side by doing some sort of an assignment. Then, we follow it up with a lab the next day, or the day before I give a lecture. Yet, I feel this is an awful way to teach. But, I think it's pretty much all we can do. I am trying to get in all of the learning modalities in. I just need to stop stressing out lol.
     

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