As I finished the end of this school year, I began to reflect what I could do differently next year. I like to do this while the year is fresh in my mind and hasn't become a distant memory, blurred by summer activities. When I poled my students’ opinions for what they liked the most about science, hands down it was the hands-on activities. As I took into account their ideas for more interactive science lesson, I began to visualize a fuzzy idea of how I wanted the math/science classroom to work.
My first thought, was the impact the classroom would have when students first walked in. I want them to get that "Ooo cool. Look at that!” In order to obtain this first impression, the classroom would have to go beyond the standard posters that I have put up in the past.
I started my search by googling a number of terms. I was disappointed and surprised that I was not able to find anything close to my vision. I was looking for a miniature "children's museum" type set-up. I could not find one. I would have to create my vision from scratch.
I considered how I could turn the lessons I taught this year into hands- on activities or to incorporate an investigation. The hands on activities could be set-up in workstation format that the students perform each day before the lesson. This would require activities that the students could conduct with minimal supervision.
It is important for students to be able to conduct investigations. For most people, it is in the doing that learning actually takes place and sticks. The more students can interact in the science environment the higher the level of interest, and the more the concepts of science become internalized. Creating activities from the natural world is the key. It helps students to observe science in their everyday lives. Teaching science from a textbook has its place, but if it is the only method utilized, we are not teaching concepts that will stick. Many of today's students have minimal personal experiences to make meaningful connections. When we teach from textbooks, the students must be able to make some form of connection in order to receive the most benefit. When they conduct an investigation before they read a lesson their interest is peaked, and their prior knowledge enhanced. Now, when the lesson is taught all students have an experience to draw from, instead of just a few.
Teachers’ jobs are more challenging than ever before. We are competing with video games, movies, and outside activities. If we want to revitalize the art of teaching, we must find ways to spur the child's interest and hold on to it for longer than five minutes. One way to do this is by getting them actively involved from the start and guiding them to make connections. Setting up an interactive science classroom would be a place to start.