How often do you let kids explore a topic before you explain or teach about it?
As educators, we can spend a lot of time talking and not a lot of time allowing kids to explore a topic. This is part 2 of a 5 part series on Science Planning.
This is another one of my big mistakes.
When you let kids get interested (engage them) and explore (let them see what they can find out on their own) the explaining part is easier and way more meaningful to them.
These kids are digital natives and expect more from lessons than a text can offer. The textbook has become a resource rather than a teaching device (which is where it probably always should have been).
Digital natives have developed differently. According to learning solutions magazine, “They shine in an interactive environment where talking, touching things, and processing information from every angle is encouraged. Gone are the days of rote memorization” (1).
The question is are you setting your kids up to shine?
What do YOU do?
In many homeschooling circles, science is limited to an occasional experiment, a lot of notebooking, and nature studies. While notebooking, interactive notebooks, foldables or lapbooks (whatever you call it) is more hands on that traditional note taking, it isn’t a substitution for exploring.
Science can be a backbone of your curriculum where you are using those new skills the kids have acquired in math and language arts instruction. Creating rich science experiences is even more important for kids that have language or other issues. Other typical language arts centered programs are frustrating, but these kids may soar in a program that they feel is designed for them.
Hands On Science is Always Better
Exploring the topic comes after that initial engagement where you peeked the kids’ interest. This phase of planning should focus on activities that have common and concrete experiences. The goal is to establish an experience that you and the kids can use later to explain the concepts, processes, or skills of science and technology (2).
Examples of strong exploration activities might include:
- Group and Partner Activities
- Scavenger Hunts
- Task Cards
- Experience Stations
- Observation Stations
The idea is that you capture their attention and get them to explore the topic in a hands on science approach. You are continuing to deepen the buy-in before you ever explain a thing.
What does this look like?
Grab the bridge building STEM challenge (if you haven’t already). In the bridge building STEM challenge, I use the simulation to allow kids to explore and gain knowledge about bridges before I give any explanation.
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(1) Rudi, Alan. “Hybrid Learning: How to Reach Digital Natives.” Learning Solutions Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Aug. 2017.
(2)Montgomery County Public Schools Science Office . 5 E’s Lesson Planning Packet Elementary Science. N.p.: Montgomery County Public Schools Science Office , 2001. Print.