So - I'm changing grade levels for the 2017-2018 school year. I'm going to second grade. I taught it once before but I've been in kindergarten for four years so this will be like a new experience. I'm also going to be departmentalized so I will be working with two other teachers as a team. I will teach writing, science, and social studies. One of the other teachers on my team will teach reading and the other one will teach math.
I get 80 minutes with each of the three classes and I have to devote 50 of those minutes to writing using the Lucy Calkins program. My system expects the Lucy Calkins program to be adhered to pretty strictly so that leaves me with 30 minutes to teach both science and social studies. I have a pacing guide/curriculum map for science and social studies that expects both of those subjects to be taught daily.
You do the math.
Can it be done?
I've talked to lots of teachers who have tried it and everyone says - NO. Not really. Not if you want to do all three subjects well and include hands on instruction. You have to really fudge a lot of things and wind up doing a half way job on the science since there is no time for engineering projects, experiments, etc. THAT is not going to be acceptable to me.
I'm VERY passionate about the need for science to be taught through hands on, student led, experiences so this is very challenging to me but I am DETERMINED to make it work in a WOW kind of way - not a "getting by" kind of way.
I spoke to my principal about my concerns and we have a little bit of a compromise in place. I am to be allowed to use an engineering project or experiment to kick off each new science standard. I can use a longer portion of my class time to allow for a student experience to introduce a new standard and then I return to the 50 minutes for writing plan.
Introducing each standard this way follows the activity before content method (ABC) which is what we want all science teachers to be doing.
I am also going to begin each class, every day, with the 30 minutes for science or social studies first and then have writing for the last 50 of the class. That will allow students to have fresh things to talk about/think about as they decide on their topic for writing each day. I will be facilitating the genre they must use in writing but typically will not give them a writing prompt - although on occasion I will.
I believe I will get better writing out of my students by leading into it with their science and social studies.
I know the people who have already been teaching in this type of schedule have found it necessary to teach science for 4 weeks and then social studies for four weeks, or something similar to that. That means being off the pacing guide, which is not ideal, but what else can you do? You can't teach science for 15 minutes and then social studies for 15 minutes.
Here in Georgia, we are rolling out new science and social studies standards for the 2017-2018 school year. This summer I am going through them to see when, if ever, I can possibly find a way to combine the two - blending the two subjects into one lesson. We'll see how that turns out. I'll let you know what I come up with.
So, I find I am excited but also feeling some anxiety, as I spend my summer trying to find a way to make this work so that my students will get absolutely everything they need in all three subjects. I feel a tremendous responsibility to make sure they don't miss anything - including experiences they deserve to have.
I'll keep you updated as I go!
In Georgia new science standards will be introduced for the 2017-2018 school year. The new Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE) are similar to the NGSS while at the same time being specific to Georgia. Both sets of standards are based on best practices from The Framework for K-12 Science Education.
The biggest change is in the way science must be taught. The pedagogy must totally change. Students should be given the chance to obtain, evaluate, and communicate the content for the standard through their own experiences while making real world connections to what they learn.
In the new GSE you will see some standards removed, some elements of standards removed, and most that remain have been restructured. The language for every standard has changed to reflect the need for a pedagogy change by beginning every standard with the exact same words, "obtain, evaluate, communicate".
To make it easier to find the places where standards or elements of standards have been removed, or new elements have been introduced, I have created a document outlining the changes as a quick reference tool. It covers both kindergarten and first grade. You can download it at the end of this post.
I hope this helps - let me know if you have questions!
Little Science Bird
Science Tool Kits for the Classroom
One great learning resource for the classroom is a tool kit students can use for exploring and observing the world around them. I have two in my classroom that students use everyday during centers. I started with $8 tool boxes from my local discount store—the kind with trays in the top. I put two pieces of black felt in the bottom of each one that can be used as a sort of placemat for laying out items to examine. In the bottom I put large items like pieces of coral, larger seashells and rocks, pieces of wood that have holes from insects, leaves of different shapes and colors, insect specimens in small containers or plastic bags, bags of soil samples, and anything else students bring in to share or that you find interesting.
In the tray I put at least two magnifying glasses, a pair of tweezers, two small hand mirrors, pens and pencils, and strips of paper for recording observations. I also put small, more fragile, items for observation in the tray where they are less likely to get smashed.
Students have access to these each day during centers. They get so excited about these kits I don’t have to worry about keeping new things in them—they bring things from home, find things on the playground, etc. and they bring in everything I need to keep it interesting.
The first dimension in 3D teaching is that of Science and Engineering Practices - also knows as SEPs. So what are those practices and how can I use them in planning lessons?
•Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
•Developing and using models (a model does not have to be something like a diorama - a drawing, a video, graphic organizer, writing piece, etc. etc. counts as a model
•Planning and carrying out investigations
•Analyzing and interpreting data
•Using mathematics and computational thinking
•Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
•Engaging in argument from evidence
•Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
(A Framework for K-12 Science Education, pg. 3)
If you haven't read A Framework for K-12 Science Education yet you definitely need to either purchase a copy or download the free PDF. See my post on 3D teaching for details on that. You are probably already using SEPs in your science lessons but if you read up on them a little and begin to purposefully choose at least one to list in each lesson plan you will find your lessons begin to come together in a way that will make you and your students happier. It all starts to make sense if you just take a deep breath and get started. Choose a phenomenon to be the jumping off point for your lesson (see my post on that if you are freaked out by phenomenon), then choose at least one element from each of the dimensions of 3D teaching to tag onto your lesson. If you aren't sure which ones to choose - just pick one. Get started. You will get better at it and more comfortable with it as you go forward. If you are planning an experience for your students you are on the right track. They need to do something that will allow them to discover the standard content. Don't feed it to them. Let them make mistakes. Let them figure out how to deal with their mistakes. Encourage them to ask questions and then find the answers to their own questions. We have to teach them how to think and reason. It is not our job to teach them what to think. It is our responsibility to teach them how to think critically. This is possibly the greatest gift we can give our students. Teaching them to think and reason. How many things in their life will go better for them if they know how to approach a problem logically and figure out how to deal with it on their own? Planning projects for my students based on phenomenon that they love to investigate has made teaching so much more enjoyable for me. And - my students are reaching way beyond the basic standard content and making real life connections that are making my heart so happy!
I know when they discover it they will remember it. They will retain the standard content because they have connected it to an experience they won't forget. So be brave - get started providing experiences for your students so that learning will last a lifetime.
Little Science Bird
So we need to start planning every science lesson with a phenomenon that will engage students and start them on a path of discovery that will (hopefully) end with them understanding the content of the standard for the lesson. I grew up in the 70's and 80's so I was reared on Sesame Street - I have heard the Muppets sing the song about "Phenomena" more times than I want to count. I should have been really chill about the notion of teaching with phenomenon when I first got the news - but I wasn't. I was really kind of freaking out about it on the inside. I just was not feeling comfortable trying to plan my lessons on phenomenon.
I was over thinking the whole thing. At my first training for Georgia Science Ambassadors they started talking about planning based on phenomenon and I really struggled with it. I teach kindergarten and it was surprisingly difficult for me to come up with phenomenon to meet our standards. But - that was because I was trying to find something wondrous and amazing almost beyond belief - something strange and unexpected. I was making it WAY too hard.
It's really just about thinking of anything students can see and observe that pertains to the standard you are trying to teach. Listen to your students during discussions this week and they will likely ask questions that will provide you with phenomenon to use in next week's lessons. If the students are the ones who come up with the phenomenon your lessons will really be more meaningful anyway.
If it helps you to have a concrete definition - here you go. A phenomenon is defined as: an observable fact or event, an object or aspect known through the senses rather than by thought or intuition. Plural = phenomena
Phenomenon are all around you. Why do glasses get water drops on the outside when the drink sits a few minutes? Why do we sometimes see the moon in the daytime? Why do some people have blue eyes and some have brown? Did you know soil comes in different colors? There is a bug on the side of that tree and it seems like it is only a skin! Some leaves turn colors and some stay green all year.
If you want to look up some lists, video clips, images, etc. that have been put together to support teaching with phenomenon you can use the list of resources at the end of this post. I'll keep updating it as I find more. In the meantime - have fun teaching!
Little Science Bird
3D teaching is the new catch-phrase in science teaching. But what is it? How do we do it? Where can we learn more?
3D teaching involves using three dimensions of thinking about science as we plan our lessons. The dimensions are:
SEPs - Science and Engineering Practices
CCs - Crosscutting Concepts
DCIs - Disciplinary Core Ideas
National Science Education Standards (and important for me, the new Georgia Science Standards of Excellence coming out 2017/2018) are based on best practices largely taken from a study titled, A Framework for K-12 Science Education. It can be purchased in book form - and is worth every penny of the thirty some odd dollars you will pay - or you can view it as a PDF file for free. It is over 400 pages long so the online only version is not as convenient as having a copy of it to hold in your hands and flip through - but it beats nothing if your budget is tight. (and whose isn't)
A Framework for K-13 Science Education is the resource you need if you want to understand 3D teaching and so much more. It is a wealth of information and is organized in a way that makes it easy to use. It lays out everything you need to know about each dimension and even gives grade band expectations that explain why certain concepts taught at certain ages and why - if you teach in Georgia - you will see some content moving to different grades. It's a must have.
To download the PDF go to: www.nap.edu
I created a presentation to get you started with 3D teaching. I'm giving you a link to the presentation. I suggest you copy and paste it into your browser if you can't click on it here. When the file opens it will ask you if you want to download the file. You don't have to - but you won't be able to view the videos if you don't download the presentation.
There is so much to be said about changing the way we teach - and about 3D teaching - it's easier to take it in small bites. I will put up posts for different bits of it all so you don't have to try and take it in all at once.
We're in this together and we just have to take it one step at a time and keep moving forward to make the best possible learning experience for our students.
Little Science Bird
M Ed. Instructional Design