Seeking Advice and Encouragement for Preservice Elementary Teachers of Science

Next week I will start teaching K-8 Science Methods courses to three different groups of preservice teachers. In my state, this is typically the ONE science education related course that elementary educators receive. It always feels like a huge responsibility… that in just a matter of hours over the couse of 10 weeks I am charged with conveying all of the necessary habits of mind, pedagogy, knowledge and beliefs necessary to be a successful teacher of elementary science.

So on that note, I’m asking all of you to help me out. What would you like to share with this group of emerging elementary teachers regarding science education? Perhaps a bit of advice, a quote, a tip, or a word of encouragement. What do you wish someone would have shared with you? Please leave some thoughts in the comments and I will pass it on. Thanks.

16 responses to “Seeking Advice and Encouragement for Preservice Elementary Teachers of Science

  1. The way you teach science doesn’t have to look like the way you were taught science for it to be effective, just because it worked for you then, doesn’t mean it works for your children now,

  2. 1. Science can be fun but it is fun because it is challenging and rewarding.
    2. Teach science for meaning…not just to define a vocabulary word or to move through the science kit
    3. Teach kids how to make claims, devise explanations and challenge the claims of others.
    4. Learning science should be a right of everyone– not the privilege of the wealthy or most academically adept
    5. It is malpractice to deny kids the right to understand and wonder about the natural world. I hope new teachers develop the understanding that science (or social studies or art) is not an extra but rather foundational to an education.

  3. Please help them understand that an hypothesis is not an educated guess that, once sort of proved, becomes a theory, which, when it is proven beyond question, becomes a law. Please. How many misconceptions are promoted within this one single statement?

  4. Get your students outside. Try to incorporate project based learning which can integrate inquiry, STEM, and support other language arts content areas. Students thrive on science that is relevant to them and their community area.

  5. Look for the Phil Bell and Leah Bricker article in the November issue of Science and Children. Have the teachers read the description of the primary and the intermediate units. They are great descriptions of the kind of science that your readers are describing!

  6. The biggest shift in the way I teach science is the realization that science isn’t “something we do”, but rather a way of thinking about the world around us. Integration is the key! Our building schedule is very tight and leaves almost zero time for a dedicated science period, so I am constantly teaching inquiry, systems and concepts through literature connections, math and writing. Thanks to Kirk for showing me the way!

    • Thanks for sharing this Jane- the issue of time is such a problem for teaching anything outside of reading and math

  7. I’d love to share syllabi and learning activities with others

    • this is a good idea Chris.. it would be nice to get a learning network of “teachers of teachers of science” beyond Washington state collaborating

  8. Who better to be teaching these future teachers than you Kirk–they are fortunate to be learning from you. I agree with the feedback you have received so far, but would add a less concrete item to your list…elementary science teachers need to feel valued in the science education K-12 picture. Have them look at the Atlas, Ready-Set-Science!, the Framework for K-12 Science Education, etc. to see just how important their work is to achieve science/STEM literacy and career-college readiness for all kids. I think they need to hear this message a lot, internalize that knowledge and belief, so that they can advocate for elementary science in their buildings/districts when they begin their teaching careers.

    • Thanks for the kind words 🙂
      And I agree, helping elementary teachers to see the value of their role and to be advocates for science education is critical.

  9. Encourage the students to ask questions, even if it makes you uncomfortable because you don’t know the answers. You don’t have to know all of the answers! Teach the students to find their own answers in books and on the internet.

    Second, have lots of things in your room for the students to touch. A teacher I worked with had a “touch table” at the back of the room that she changed every month or two. Her 4th graders loved it! They would cluster back there whenever there was a break in the day. The students could look through simple microscopes, compare different rocks, touch animal pelts and feathers, examine pine cones, and lots of other stuff. The students’ interest in science class sky-rocketed as a result.

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