I had a true middle school experience this past week. Mrs. Schade, the natural science teacher, is currently continuing her schooling. She took two days off to prepare for an examination. This presented an opportunity for me to co-teach with Prof. Patty Caro.
Teaching science to grades 5 and 6 was right up my alley. If there is one thing anyone should know about me (besides my fondness for traveling), it is that I love science. The human body, stoichiometry, cloud formation–no matter what you say, my interest will be perked! It should come to no surprise that one of my minors is natural sciences. Over the years I had many educators who influenced my love of science, especially biology. After Prof. Caro asked me to co-teach with her, I started designing a lesson plan for the grade 6’s plant unit. I wanted the students to experience heads-on, hearts-on, hands-on learning. Later that evening, Prof. Caro and I discussed what to do for the grade 5 soil unit. Before dinner, we were prepared for the next day.
Upon our arrival in the morning, we realized that Mrs. Schade forgot to mention that we would be teaching grade 7A and 7B. Prof. Caro and I were in a pinch, but we worked off of each other to provide great instruction. We assisted the students in finishing their assignment on energy, and then with the extra time we began the next chapter on light. Through multiple demonstrations with flashlights, the students were able to correctly identify the differences between transparent, translucent and opaque objects. Grades 7A and 7B also got to explore how their body blocks the sun to create shadows! We then started making different shadow puppets which got many laughs from the students.
After our success with grade 7, we had a struggling period with grade 5. That day had started off rough for grade 5, and it continued into science. Prof. Caro and I decided our first step with these learners was to teach them how to behave in class. Together, we practiced a classroom management technique for them to know when to be silent and pay attention. Once the students quieted down, then we taught them that they need to be sitting in their desks and raising their hand to answer a question. This took many run throughs, but with any experiment it takes trial and error. By the end of the period, the grade 5 students were behaving in a decent manner.
Finally, it was time to put my two-day plant lesson into action. I began my discussion where Mrs. Schade left off the previous day. From there, I taught the students about different types of leaf structures, branching arrangements and root systems. In the classroom, grade 6 got to look at examples of these plants. This hands-on approach was wonderful for the students with blindness because they could feel the differences in each plant structure. Grade 6 not only had science with us, but they had art too! Prof. Caro had an idea to create an art project out of plants we collected. The students (and I) loved this project. The students work turned out amazingly – some of them I would have liked to hang up in my own home!
For my two days of teaching, I worked with the naughty and nice kids; and, no matter what, you love them all. The learners enjoyed having Prof. Caro and me as their science teachers. They spoke up more and participated in heads-on, hearts-on, hands-on learning. This learning style brought true laughter into the classroom. It was a beautiful sight to see.
Cierra Bartol-Byers, a senior elementary education major, is blogging about her study abroad experience in Namibia, Africa.