Get Started Teaching Science: You, Too, Can Be a Science Teacher!

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Teaching Science … Who, Me?

So, you’re teaching science next week… Moms, teachers: please raise your hand if you were a science major in college.

{Crickets chirping}

Chances are, you raised your hand – and that’s okay. Because most people weren’t. As a result, you know that teaching science is something that you must do this year… But where to begin?

You probably have a teacher’s guide for language arts. On your desk, you have workbooks with tons of math problems and handwriting practice. Maybe you boast ten lifetime memberships to computer game sites. And, of course, your library is filled with just-right books for you children. But the “what” and “how” of teaching science intimidates you.

So, to help you out, I will share ten tips for getting started teaching science ~ ways that anyone can begin. Choose any of these tips, and stick with it for 30 days, and you will be on your way to building a solid science teaching habit in your homeschool or classroom. I promise.

10 Tips for Getting Started Teaching Science

If you are anxious about teaching science, maybe you have one of three main problems:

  1. You have no clear science topic in mind;
  2. Perhaps you have a topic, but don’t have any ideas for presenting it;
  3. Or, you have a topic and some ideas, but wish you had more science knowledge.

So, let’s look more closely at each of these problems, and talk about some tips for solving them.

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You might be worried about finding a topic for your science lessons ~ but you need go no farther than your own yard to find one! {Photo credit (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2016}

Help! I Need a Topic!

First, Start With Your Kids…

So many of us grew up with the “September is apples, October is pumpkins, November is turkeys” system for teaching science. Perhaps you have science units, maybe 3 or 4 for the year. As a result, you have a lot of blank space between. How do we find great ideas (or ANY ideas!) for teaching science? While having a textbook gives you something to work with, I want to share some easy-does-it ways to generate high-interest science topics, with little effort, and NO textbook.

  • Ask your children ~ Begin your year by simply asking your kids about their interests. Make a list, and narrow the list down to ten ideas – one for each month of the school year. Try to get in earth and space sciences, physical sciences and life sciences. The kids choose the topics, so you know they’ll be engaged. But be ready to learn something new! I spent all grade 2 learning about helicopters and Vikings!
  • Start with your kids’ questions ~ If you want a fun idea to find out what really makes your children tick, write down their questions for a few days … especially those questions that you have to research to answer! Use these questions to generate 9-10 general study topics for the year.

Next, Use Ready-Made Topic Lists…

  • Use tech tools ~ I have fallen in love with Bing, because starting your day with a dazzling home screen grabs everyone’s interest, all by itself. And clicking on the Info link at the bottom right corner takes you to a customized search that brings you science, art, history and other links relevant to the image. Sign up for Bing in the Classroom, and you can build an entire unit of study based on web resources.
  • Find a good activity book ~ Rather than sweat about ideas, you can also use one of many books that have a lesson a day for the entire calendar year (we have The Kids’ Nature Book). Your topic (e.g., rocks and minerals) might spread out over a couple of weeks, with art connections, historical facts and experiments. Great if you need lessons to go with a topic.
  • Find a good website ~ In addition to these handy books, you can use websites such as Handbook of Nature Study and Ambleside Online , which have schedules and suggested topics for teaching science and nature study, with book recommendations (Ambleside’s are mostly free or nearly so).

Also, Don’t Forget Books and the Outdoors…

  • Get outside ~ Charlotte Mason recommended one 15-minute outdoor expedition each day as part of a child’s experience. Barbara McCoy uses this philosophy in designing her Outdoor Hour Challenges. If you sign up (it’s free!), you get a great newsletter each month with more than enough topic-based activities to last you through the month. Or meander through her website for ideas on the topic you chose using one of the other strategies listed above.
  • Start with a great book ~ Do you love to read? The Charlotte Mason approach to early learning involves great literature (“living books”) as a springboard for all kinds of learning. The Charlotte Mason Bookfinder Tool (at Simply Charlotte Mason) lets you find great books about all kinds of topics. We will talk about generating ideas from a book in a bit.

 

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Any outdoor excursion can give you countless ideas for teaching science – all it takes is 15 minutes a day! {Photo credit (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2014}

I Have a Topic… Now What?

So, now you know there have to be almost a million things that you can do with your topic. Maybe you chose a great living book to begin the year. Fortunately, another person has already thought about how to get the most out of that topic or book when teaching science!

  • Make connections to other content areas ~ Don’t limit yourself to science experiments! Brainstorm connections between your topic and history, geography… even the arts. While free is fine, you can also find programs like Five in a Row , which have inexpensive units of study, based on high-quality children’s books, that integrate literacy with teaching science and other subjects – great for multimodal learning!
  • Generate great questions ~ I saw a 6th grade teacher using Learning Cubes as a way of reviewing students’ science reading. Starting with some higher order questions helps you keep kids thinking as they learn (because science IS thinking).

 

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Teaching science can include connections to social studies, literacy and the arts … all it takes is a little creativity! {Photo credit (c) Lisa Kowalyshyn, 2015} [used with permission].

I Really Want to Learn More Science! {for the “Bill Nyes” Out There}

Remember that question I asked about your college major, way back in paragraph one? Did I forget to tell you to put your hand down?

Perhaps you’re an awesome science teacher – and you know it! – But, you want and need more information on science. As a result, you’ll want to turn to the experts for advice. Science teaching is broken down into three different areas (according to A Framework for K-12 Science Education {see the sidebar on the right for a link to the full document}):

  • Disciplinary Core Ideas: The most important information about your specific topic (such as the idea that energy is transferred or transformed);
  • Cross-Cutting Concepts: Important science ideas that show up over and over, in all areas of science (such as Patterns, Systems or Models);
  • Science and Engineering Practices: Things that all scientists think and do (such as ask and answer questions or use data).

You will find these three areas, plus math and literacy connections, all put together in the Next Generation Science Standards.

Are You Ready to Get Started Teaching Science?

It doesn’t matter if you’re an absolute science newbie or the next Ms. Frizzle. The most important thing to remember is that you can get started on great science teaching this week! Use the tips above to generate topics of study, plan teaching ideas for your topic, and decide important scientific ideas to cover in your lessons. You will find that teaching science, like anything else you do, takes practice. Start with one tip, or a few… but, most importantly, START!

Because I know that planning tools are helpful to you, my teacher friend, I created a Montessori-style planning tool that you can use to help you plan multiple subject areas organized around a particular topic. If you’re like me, you probably like to see a model, so I’ve also linked to a sample of a “Rocks and Minerals” unit planner suitable for teaching science in kindergarten, as an example.

http://simplesciencestrategies.com teaching science

Teaching science through other subjects is easy with this Montessori-inspired planning tool. {Copyright (c) Simple Science Strategies, 2016}

 

Get Started … Download Your FREE Resources, Today!

If all this has you itching to begin planning, you can use this handy download button (below) to get my science planning template, FREE! For more ideas to help you get started on teaching science, why not subscribe to this blog, Simple Science Strategies? (There’s a handy “subscribe” button on the right hand sidebar)… Or, for more tips on conducting nature study, you can subscribe to my sister blog, A Child’s Garden. Rather than spending hours teaching students how to organize their science journals, I have found many journal pages in the Free Notebooking Pages Product Sampler – so helpful for my budding scientists!

http://simplesciencestrategies.com teaching science

Download any (or all!) of these free resources to help you get started teaching science this year. Best wishes for a great Back to School week!

 

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3 responses to “Get Started Teaching Science: You, Too, Can Be a Science Teacher!

  1. Very cool! I saved some of those links for future use. Science was (and still is) intimidating, but the kids love it, and their enthusiasm is very encouraging. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Did you find anything you could use? Let me know!