Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Kids love science, why wait??

Reading the article in this link, made me wonder why we have been waiting to really teach kids about science. This article, Educators are taking a new approach to teaching science, reminded me that in the U.S. the big emphasis on science doesn't come until after 3rd grade. In many places it doesn't happen until middle school. Young children love science, it is exciting, rewarding and interactive. Why is it viewed as an "extra" in early grades? 

I understand the time argument. We need to teach them basic skills first, yes. Why can't we infuse science into more of what we do?

I appreciate that in Florida it is being recognized that even though the students are not tested on science content until 5th grade they need to be teaching the material much earlier. Florida, I'm sure, is not the first state to deal with this issue. What is more important to me, is that kids are missing out on the fun of science from the get-go. We are missing out on a ripe opportunity to foster a thirst and love of science and learning when we don't offer our kids these experiences at an early age. I love science, all kinds, and see it as the glue that holds everything together. I'm a little bias since I taught science for 10 yrs. at the middle school level. 

A bigger issue is that our country is struggling in a global job market. Many other countries are beating us when it comes to math and science. Anyone see a connection here? What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rethinking homework, it's about time.

Elizabeth Peterson, the author of this blog post, http://www.theinspiredclassroom.com/2011/10/revising-homework/, got me to thinking about homework.

As a teacher, I gave homework for a couple of reasons. First, and most importantly, because I thought I had to. Then, as I got to be a better teacher and had more to "cover" I gave homework as an extension of the school day. Toward the end of my time in the classroom I used homework as a way to "flip" my instruction. I asked the students to read and take notes on a section of text. The next day we would discuss and do activities about that content. I was on to something, but didn't have much more to use than the textbook or magazines at the time. Now with You Tube, I Pods, email, etc. there are so many options. Not all students have access to the internet or technology at home, so this is still a hurdle, but you have to admit, the resources are out there.

Now as a mother with school age kids new light has been shed on this whole "homework thing". Unless it is purposeful and engaging work, why would students want to or even care about doing it? We could ask ourselves the same question about work that is done inside the school day too. Wink, wink. Students are less likely to retain or comprehend ideas or content that are not meaningful or engaging. So how can we make homework more meaningful and engaging?

Elizabeth Peterson has some great ideas about using tools like Study Island, Study Jams and Spelling City.
-What about assigning You Tube videos to watch on the content you are studying?  Better yet have kids create You Tube videos to share in class.
-If you want to keep it simple have students find examples of math, science or reading at home that relate to what your lessons are at school.
-Use Project Based Learning ideas, this gives real purpose to the work. There are many websites out there with sample projects.  http://www.bie.org/videos/cat/example_projects
-Quizzing Mom, Dad and siblings about topics or skills from class.
-Help your teacher out by writing the next math test, don't forget to include the answers!
-Read, read, read
-Write, write, write

I know many of you are doing all these things and more. Please share!