Day 1 of My Elementary Science Methods Course

Of course, on the first day of class for the semester we began by reviewing the syllabus, an activity that I have always thought takes away from the impact that other, opening activities would have on such an important day.  But my goal for the class was to deconstruct the my students’ impression of what a science methods class would entail.  Although this will be a semester long process, I do believe that I made some headway on the first day.

I want my students to be excited about teaching science but the first step is to convince them that science is exciting. I refuse to use textbook in any of my classes and this class is no exception. If I ever find a text book that I want to curl up on the couch with on a snowy Saturday afternoon, I will be sure to include it in a syllabus, but it hasn’t happened yet and I do not expect that it will.

So, if I don’t use a textbook, and don’t want my students to get used to using them with their 1-6 students, what do I use?  There is an abundance of print, video, electronic, resources available on the internet and in our libraries. I want my students to dig in a find the good stuff.  On this first day of the course I wanted to excite my students about science so these are the things that I did with them.  First, I read them a short story by Ray Bradbury entitled, The Last Question.  I had read this story many years ago and had forgotten how impactful it is.  Before I began reading I asked my students to raise their hands if they liked science fiction. only one student out of 17 answered yes.  Before beginning the story I passed out the iPads so that, if they wanted to read along with me they could, most students did.  As usual, the minute I began reading the class fell into a state of calm and intense focus. After all of these years I still marvel at this. We all love to be read to just as children do. By the time ____vac said, “Let there be light,” the class was spellbound.  They liked the story, surprise, surprise!

Next, I showed them a 4 minute video of the successful December 2015 Space-X launch of a rocket that delivered several satellites into orbit and then successfully landed back on our planet.  The video showed the throngs of 20 and 30 somethings who worked on the project as they viewed this amazing event from launch headquarters.  Their excitement was contagious.  My students watched carefully, most of them showing visible signs of interest, surprise and wonder.  None of them knew anything about Space X prior to watching this video.

The final thing that I did was to ….. finish later.

The assignment for the week was to choose a concept from the NGSS and to find 10 engaging resources to teach the concept. Students are going to share their resources today in class. The goal is to pool our resources into a collection that students can draw from when they enter student teaching.

 

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