During my practicum I observed a 5th grade science class that was studying the solar system. The class began with the teacher asking the students what they know about the solar system. Many students raised their hands and responded to the question when called on. After a few minutes of inquiring the teacher proceeded to show the students the solar system using the Solar System Scope on the Smart board. The classroom environment was filled with anticipation of actually getting to see what the solar system looks like. The students enjoyed seeing and feeling the effect of being in space where they could get a closer look at the planets. It was great to see a lot of enthusiastic and eager students. After showing the students how the solar system looks and asking questions, hands were flying and questions were being answered. Students were curious to know more so the teacher instructed the students to write their questions on a piece of paper and place them in the jar to be used for random discussions throughout the class period.
Much of the science lesson had other subjects that were being incorporated into the lesson plan. What I observed was the teacher integrating content areas into the study such as Reading; the students read from their textbook and discussed what was read. Writing was used for completing the worksheets that students worked on the day before and writing in their journals. Math was also integrated because students needed to determine how far the moon and the sun were from the planets and to determine the depth and height during an experiment. Technology, being the most popular by far, was also integrated, students were allowed to use a computer and view the solar system with the website provided by the teacher. (http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/eyes). This website is a must see, it lets you navigate what planet to look at up close, the destination, rate and speed. This even lets you find the current location of the sun. During the week of my observation I notice the teacher interacted with all students and was always encouraging them to participate.
I do believe the Science Teaching Standards were used through assessments, observation and participation of students, as well as textbooks, worksheets and videos that were used to their fullest in the science classroom. The students watched a video about the solar system. They learned about the sun, planets and small bodies including comets and asteroids. Students were given a handout that was to be used for labeling the nine planets in order. The students were then to cut and glue the planets creating their own solar system that will be displayed around the classroom. During an experiment, the students attentively observed the teacher while she used flour and a ruler to demonstrate how to measure the height and depth. The students were then asked to interpret what they observed and transfer their data onto a data chart. The teacher made sure the data that was transferred into the chart was accurate.
At the end of the daily assignment the students were given formative assessments with questions taken from the book or worksheets. This allows a student as well as the teacher to see how much information the student can recall. The students are given a certain amount of time to answer the questions. When time is up the teacher then shares the correct answers with the students giving them a chance to correct their paper and see where they answered wrong. These can later be used to review for a test or look back when unsure of what they studied. Students also participate in what the teacher calls “Odd” Day (Open Daily Discussion). This is a great way for the teacher to evaluate the students’ learning and whether or not they are ready for their assessment. The teacher gives students Summative Assessments sporadically to determine what students know and do not know. On Friday, students are very well aware that it is test/exam day so they come to class prepared with their two pencils and a book to read after. The teacher has prepared an assessment over the solar system and what she taught throughout the week. Students are then graded accordingly.
The science classroom I observed is an inclusive classroom therefore, there is differentiated instructions used. There are several students with learning disabilities as well as English Language Learners. The teacher uses handouts with the moon phases already in order for those students who have learning disabilities. She also has a bilingual aid that helps her with ELL students, since I was observing and I am bilingual, the teacher asked if I could help the student by interpreting what needed to be done on the worksheet. I must admit, it was a wonderful experience. Although I needed to observe a lesson plan being taught, I was fortunate enough to actually get to work with students. I believe that with everything this teacher integrated into her science class, the unit was successful. The teacher provided many hands-on and group assignments which students really enjoyed and there was much encouragement and participation from both the teacher and students. It is amazing how students encourage one another.
I would definitely use this approach in the future. It is evident that students like hands-on and group assignment. Technology is perhaps what motivates students because it provides them with a genuine feel of what they are learning about. I am not sure I would add anything to the way the teacher taught her class. There were many hands-on and group assignments which the students really enjoy. There was also the use of technology which the students found enjoyable. After leaving the classroom I found myself sitting behind a computer looking at the website that was provided for the students. I must admit that it is a really awesome one to look in to. This makes science so much more fun and enjoyable. Making a class fun, even if it means using and integrating other content areas, is what keeps the students focused and encouraged. The willingness to learn is in the heart of a child but the willingness to teach with a passion is in the heart of a teacher.