Reflections on my own experiences with learning science
Take a bit of time to reflect on your own experience with learning Science. What do you remember most about the Science instruction you had? Science in the elementary years are difficult to remember. All I can really remember is we used a textbook and had some good discussions and fun experiments. My greatest memories start in junior high school. This is when we had "real" experiments. Our teacher loved having us use hands-on labs, many times making the labs applicable to the experiences we were having in our farming community. There always seemed to be a great connection to this. Mr. Brower also had a true passion and excitement for the content. It is funny, I do not ever remember being bored or not wanting to go. In high school, the labs became much more advanced and prepped us well for post high school through the offerings of AP classes like AP Chem and AP Biology.
What do you remember fondly? The greatest memories are of the passion our teachers brought to every lesson. From the classroom displays to the teaching, there was always relevance to our own lives. It was also building on previous concepts with the promise that there would always be lessons where we were doing things, i.e. labs or experiments. The best memory was the teacher that never stopped us from trying our own experiments. We always wanted to know what would happen "if". Under controlled settings, we were able to answer questions such as "Why do you want to do this?" "What do you think will happen when..." "Why did/didn't anything happen?" It was great because it allowed us the chance to feel like we were real scientists. Even more important, we felt like we had a voice about our own curiosity.
What do you recall that were less than enjoyable? What impact has this had on your own teaching? Pretty easy, rote memorization. We knew there were things we had to learn, but the boring and tedious part of learning the terms, the Periodic Table, bones, etc., when taught in isolation, didn't have relevance. I guess it wasn't so bad because it was always explained why we needed them and how it would help us in the next lessons. This is a practice I have always tried to model as the kids need to know the real relevance and fluency it could bring to the learning. The real issues came from the kids who did not want to learn. If they were bored or not interested, lessons could easily become less focused as time was taken to redirect these kids. Again, this is something I am trying to always keep in mind by anticipating these behaviors and designing lessons that always have at least a chunk of time devoted to high interest and relevant issues.