It's Time for Elementary Science
Reading, writing, and math instruction are daily absolutes in elementary classrooms. Science, while it is a discipline in its own right, reading, writing and math skills aid in its understanding. A certain amount of reading time must be spent reading nonfictional texts. Choose science texts for students to read and study.
In recent years, homework has been devalued. I’ve heard teachers say it is a waste of time. They say it punishes those students who don’t have an adult at home who can help them complete it. They say many students do not do their homework, so they would rather not assign it. At the same time, we are aware of the lack of time given to science instruction (30-45 minutes each day for science or social studies). In many areas, standardized test scores in science are low. And local business communities report difficulty locating and hiring individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to perform the tasks of the jobs they have to offer. Often, the lacking skills are science-related. Defining problems, problem solving, using models, using evidence to make decisions, and math and computational thinking are all science skills needed for work in the expanding technical fields.
We know that education is not just for the sake of education. The purpose of education is that our students become equipped to, one day, be able to live and work independently of their parents or governmental assistance. If we do not prepare students for the available work, we do them and ourselves a disservice.
The length of the school day has not changed, but the requirements and demands of the school day have changed. These changes have nearly squeezed science instruction out of the school day—but science skills and knowledge are imperative. Homework, may be an avenue to giving students some of the science knowledge and skills we know they need.
As we embark on the journey of Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies, let’s reward students for completing their homework rather than punishing them for not completing it. While there are students who lack an adult to help them complete homework, there are also students who have a willing adult at home, but bring home no work to complete. If students are being rewarded for completing their homework, even those who do not have an adult to help, may make attempts on their own, because they know they will get a sticker the next day!
I do not advocate for science homework to replace in-class instruction, nor do I advocate for science homework that causes students to teach themselves new information. I do advocate for homework that 1) reinforces concepts learned in class, 2) applies concepts learned in class, 3) helps students to notice real-life examples of concepts learned in class, and 4) helps students correctly use scientific vocabulary learned in class. What does this look like?
Homework can reinforce concepts learned in class:
Homework can help students apply concepts learned in class:
Homework can help students notice real-life examples of concepts learned in class:
Homework can give students practice with the scientific vocabulary learned in class:
It's time for elementary science. Whether the time is in the classroom, or at home, students need science instruction and they need opportunities for those concepts to be reinforced. Neither integration nor homework will replace good classroom instruction, projects, or hands-on labs, but with limited classroom time, science can be integrated into math, reading, writing, or even social studies. The examples above are intended to offer some ideas for how this could look, but the possibilities are endless. If you would like more information or support with putting these strategies to work with your students, please contact me for assistance.
Thank you for reading,
Kimberly G. Massey - M.Ed, NBCT
Copyright 2018 Kimberly G. Massey
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Kimberly G. Massey
Science Instructional Specialist, Rock Hill Schools of York County
The views/opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rock Hill Schools of York County SC.
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