Questions from Teachers, You will benefit from these answers. Part 1.

In my quest to help other teachers I decided to ask my Instagram followers if they had anything that they were struggling with. Below are the answers to the questions that I felt were most useful to most people. I have tagged the people who asked these questions, go follow them. They are lovely people.



Question 1.

  • @becky_middleof3 How can I jazz up our beginning of year science units? Specifically, I struggle with the properties of matter unit. By fifth grade, they’ve dropped a thousand pennies and ping pong balls into water. They know a paper clip will stick to a magnet but a soda can will not. What can I do to make this unit more meaningful without repeating the labs they do year after year? (5th grade, TX)
    • Yes, I know what you mean. Sometimes the standard investigations do get boring (both for students and teachers!). You could adapt some of the STEM projects mentioned in the answers below. They are great!
    • The trick is to find exciting new angles to the investigations. I do this by breaking down what the properties of matter topic actually includes and finding everyday examples to build into lessons. Things that students can relate to; things that they have experience of. This will give them the base level engagement, making it easier to engage fully with the topic…they’ll run off and explain to everyone at home how stuff works…..boom…engagement!
    • I break down properties of matter into these areas
      • States of Matter.
      • Melting and Freezing.
      • Boiling.
      • Evaporation.
      • Diffusion.

Question 2.

  • @msdburg What are your biggest tips for first year teachers?
    • Number 1 would be to be yourself. It takes so much energy trying to be something you’re not, the students see through it straight away and you won’t get a level of trust with your classes.
    • Secondly I would say don’t try and reinvent the wheel every time you plan a lesson; use other peoples lessons (tidy them up a little if you need to), it’s your personality that is your greatest asset, not the look of your PowerPoint/worksheets. Use the expertise around you. Most teachers are more than willing to help you, we’ve all been through it and come out the other side.
    • Lastly I would say be ruthless with your time. Plan when you will do stuff and stick to it. When you realise your to do list will never end, you need to be sensible with your time; there’s only 24 hours in the day. You MUST make time for YOU! Schedule it in if you have to, but you have to eat, sleep, and relax……if you forget these you’ll burn out. If you are ruthless with your time you will be able to see friends and get the respite you need.
    • You maybe benefit from the following posts:
    • New teacher mistakes
    • How to stop procrastinating
    • Student engagement.

Question 3.

  • @ahlahden Do you guys participate in the STEM curriculum? If so, what’s your favourite STEM project you have done with your students?
    • Personally I like building water rockets with students. Here is a great website for rocket building ideas Indestructibles.com. In the past I have run a STEM after school club. I present the students with a list of projects and they plan the three that we will undertake in the year. I like to give ownership of the projects to the students, I get them to choose roles in the group; engineers, project manager, materials manager, designer and recorder etc.

Question 4.

  • @teachingsuperpowers I am a primary teacher so I have to teach all subjects! What advice do you have to help incorporate science more and make it a priority. I find that it is often skipped due to time restraints.
    • It is very common for Science to be skipped or only glanced over in primary schools. This is either due to time constraints or lack of equipment. I have spoken to quite a few primary school teachers who have the same concern. The best science in Primary is when it is incorporated into topics. For instance if teaching about a particular country you could include lessons on the habitats, animals and plants that live in that country. These type of investigations really engage students into the wonders of the world and at primary age, engagement and wonder are the best things to focus on.
    • If you are looking for more specific science lessons then making links with science departments in local high schools is a great way to achieve this. It is quite common for high school science teachers to have groups of  primary school children visit their labs after school to do experiments. In the past I have visited primary schools to meet with teachers and help them plan science integration. I have also loaned science equipment to schools and visited primary schools to do joint lessons with teachers. Making strong links between primary and high schools has excellent benefits for both schools.

Question 5.

  • @kathyntjej In Puerto Rico we have to work a Problem Based Learning Project (PBL) Can you please give some tips on how to make this a positive experience for my 5th, 6th and 7th graders? Teacher direct students to identify a topic they want to learn about… Students are divided in small groups and work at home and in the classroom on a project. This project will be presented to the rest of the class.
    • As mentioned in one of the answers above I use STEM projects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). They are great for getting students engaged and working independently and they require only limited teacher input and direction. Here is a link to some great ideas for STEM projects: globaldigitalcitizen.org

I’ve really enjoyed answering these questions, I hope you have found the answers useful. I will definitely do this again soon. If you would like to ask a question please comment below or follow me on Instagram. If you have anything to add to the answers given also comment below.

 

Other posts you may find useful:

Mistakes new teachers make

Mistakes leaders make

Student Engagement

Summer income tips

Thanks for your time,

TeacherOfSci

 

 

 

 

 

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