When the beginning of the year comes around, what do you teach in science? Most teachers typically begin with explaining the scientific method and process skills. As I mentioned in my post, Should you Teach the Scientific Method?, I would discourage the use of any scientific method labs without curriculum integration – doing them just for the sake of learning scientific processes is not a good idea and is not aligned with NGSS. However, I do have other ideas to help you start the year off right in science.
Starting the Year off Right in Science
1.) Start with the expectations, routines, and procedures. As with any subject, one of the first things I like to do is make sure that I am teaching my students about the science expectations. I feel this is especially important because in science we have experiments and labs. I don’t want to have to worry about whether my students can follow expectations. Additionally, helping students understand the routines and procedures in science, will help your year run smoothly. These little things make a huge difference.
2.) Get to know your students’ interests and learning styles. Many students are not huge fans of science, especially girls. One way to help engage them is to understand their learning styles and interests. You can grab a free interest inventory and read some more ideas by heading to my post 10 Ideas to Get to Know Your Students.
3.) Get to know your students’ misconceptions about scientists. Often students come to us with this image in their head of mad scientists as often portrayed in movies, cartoons, and Halloween. Their misconceptions about scientists is a great place to start to determine what they know and what we need to “help set straight.” One way that we can do this is through a scientific survey. On the back of the scientific survey, you can ask students to draw a picture of what a scientist looks like. This will help you determine if there are any stereotypes or assumptions being made.
4.) Teach students about science equipment. I want my students to think and act like scientists. One way that I can do this is by introducing them to the equipment that scientists use as we progress through our science units. I first show them the tool and discuss what it does, then hang my science tools posters up in the classroom. Then I provide students with my science tools interactive notebook piece that they can complete themselves. This makes learning about it fun!
5.) Teach students about lab safety. In elementary school, there is a need to help students understand the importance of lab safety, even if you aren’t teaching with chemicals or the bunsen burner. This can be in an interactive way or just a quick and simple talk.