The best part about teaching is starting over at the beginning of each new school year. Few professions provide the opportunity to clear the slate and start new. New faces, clean rooms and an amazing lack of clutter (check back in November for the clutter piles). What things do you need to consider at the start of a new science class? Here's a few thoughts.
Lab Safety: Odds are you will have an accident. It is vital that you demonstrate that you are providing a safe and secure classroom. If a student were to ever get injured and you found yourself in court, your lesson plans will document a pattern of safety. Always record any lab safety moments you talk about in your lesson plans. Not sure where to start, Google lab safety and you will find countless resources. Here's a few examples
Amoeba Sisters Lab Safety Video
Lab Safety with Carolina.com (Worksheet download)
Lab Manager Website with Safety Rules
Classroom Expectations in Science: I like to take a few days to really dig into my expectations as a science teacher. Our rooms are different because of the materials we use. Fire, electricity, sharp objects are common. So take a little time to explain when they see microscopes, we don't touch them till instructed. If we're using a candle, we're not touching them with our fingers. The key to this discussion is that you are creating a safe classroom that is unique. It may be more structured than their home, but that's life, we are professionals.
Finally I like to get into to teaching some science. It can be cumbersome to go over safety and lab expectations everyday. So for the first week I devote 15 minutes to these task each day, then do some science. What lessons are first? The first is asking a student to walk through a sheet of paper. This classic science challenge will get your younger students thinking and older kids engaged. From there we discuss the basics of science and how the ability to observe has led to life changing discoveries. If you are looking to jump start your planning process, here are science lessons 1 and 2. These both include editable lesson presentations, students activity sheets and resources to make your first few days of school a breeze.
I love teaching because we can finish a school year and start new. Now that we are entering the "start new" portion of the year, I love to think about what materials I want for my classroom that are outside the normal budgeting process. These tools are often things that encourage student creativity and allow them to build, grow and learn. Finding easy grant sources is a must. Two of my favorites are Donorschoose.org and MAC grants (from McDonald's). In both cases these grants are easy to fill out and reporting requirements are minimal. This year I would like to create some "maker space" stations that include Rasberry Pie computers that allows kids to code and create. If you've never looked at these grant provider, check them out.
The best part of teaching is the ability to start and finish every year. Summer provides the perfect time to reflect on your past your and make corrections. More importantly, it allows us to grow as educators and improve student experience the following year. Kids always come into my room after moving up and ask “Why didn’t we do this last year?” I like to reply that we are always making thing better. If you haven’t started this process, here’s some areas for reflection to help improve next year teaching.
These are just a few questions I look at in the summer, this could go on and on. Currently I am working through student notebooks to look at what exactly my kids did over the course of the year. These provide valuable clues for my pacing. Additionally, I am looking to better organize my physical space to include more supplies for make space type activities.
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