Exemplary science teaching may look different to each individual person based on their past experiences and preferences for learning. Did they have effective or non-effective teachers? Do they remember their science classes being fun and hands on or were they boring? Did they even like science? This graphic displays the responses of some people who are not science education majors when asked what words come to mind when I say “exemplary science teaching”.
My opinions about what exemplary science teaching means vary from the answers given by those I interviewed. The words and phrases that immediately come to my mind include:
- inquiry based
- real life application
- fosters a love for science
Although the first words we associate with exemplary science teaching may be different, all of these words and phrases play an important role in defining who I want to be on my journey toward becoming an exemplary science teacher.
But how in the world am I going to get there?!
A good first step may be to look at other exemplary teachers and use them as an inspiration. In this Ted Talk, Danielle N. Lee shares one of the unique ways she teaches science to her students; a way that involves both learning and getting groovy in the classroom.
Just like Ms. Lee, it is so important to me that I use out of the box teaching techniques while teaching science, whether that be by connecting my lessons to music or sports, or just by including fun activities that get my students curious and asking questions about science.
Out of the Box Lesson Plans & Activities
Not all lesson plans and activities are created equal. Some may be used for getting students to question what is going on around them, some may be used to introduce new topics, and others are simply just for getting students to show what they know. No matter the purpose, science activities should be hands-on, engaging, and make students think. Below are some sample out-of-the-box activities that can be used in science classrooms.
- Have students create and preform a dramatic play about the cell cycle including all cell phases, mitosis, and finally, death by apoptosis. Allow students to show what they’ve learned being as creative as possible
- Go to a nearby park and find structures, either man-made or in nature, that mimic parts of the human skeleton. Take pictures of what you find. Do you notice any similarities?
- Give students a starting point and an ending point and leave them to deduce how they are going to get from point A to point B. For example, give the students a copper solution and let them figure out how to form a copper precipitate on their own.
This website describes other innovative strategies and methods that can be used in the science classroom. These strategies can be used to develop creative, hands-on lesson plans!
Students are not meant to just be students while in a science classroom, they are meant to be scientists. They are meant to question, explore, create, and experiment, and it’s time we start letting them. Not all students are going to love science, but it’s important that they know how to be curious and how to question what is going on around them. Placing an importance on inquiry and hands-on learning in the classroom will not only improve students’ outlook on science, but will pave the way to exemplary science teaching!