05 April 2013

Inspiring Scientists [and 4th graders who pass the End-of-Year Science Exam!]

Linking up with Head Over Heels for Teaching on Spark Student Motivation!  
My tip:  Fighting the afternoon slump?  Re-capture students' attention with SCIENCE! :)

Even though my kiddos are tested every year on the AIMS Science test, my admin always seems to forget that I need academic time allotted for this sensational subject as well!

I have found that my administrators much prefer to harp on the tremendous importance of math and reading, but tend to overlook the fact that science makes up a substantial portion of our curriculum as well.  Enfuriatingly, my school and administration even denied our school the opportunity to go on a FREE field trip to the Arizona Science Center back in October since it would mean a good portion of the day outside of the classroom.  They believe our focus needs to be on "ensuring each child receives the best academic instruction possible prior to AIMS testing while all stay IN SEATS." GAG!!!  Even though I had attended the workshop to enable 100 students (aka my entire grade level) to attend free b/c we're a Title I school, the superintendent had forbidden any 'FIELD TRIPS, ASSEMBLIES OR SCHOOL FITNESS RUNS AS THEY WERE TAKING AWAY FROM THE INTEGRITY AND ADHERENCE OF OUR ACADEMIC BLOCKS' from happening at our school.

Outlandish, much?  Last year, we took the field trip in October and my students rocked it with the best science scores they've seen in years with a passing percentage of 82% (well above the state average of the 54% who pass on the Science test.)  Regardless, common sense, is never used and teacher input is never valued in this district!  Therefore, it is on me, the classroom teacher to perform miracles in isolation yet again because I hold my work performance to such an insanely high level of standard {gotta love having a Type-A personality!!}

To appease the administration masses, we study science with the 'required district adopted text' and I have the students "jump in read" since we're always working to improve our reading fluency and comprehension no matter the subject.  We take notes in our interactive notebooks, and I make it known to my students that if we don't ALL do our best to finish the lesson and keep up with our note-taking as expected, then they'll be missing out on the hands-on science lab and/or related BrainPop or BillNye vid I have stored away in my bag of tricks.  This also helps calm the nerves of the constant coach supervision we're under since they tend to walkthru at the beginning of the week moreso than near the end of the wk.  Needless to say all my encouraging of finishing the science lesson, creating diagrams and noting important vocabulary in their interactive notebooks gets the kids super-excited for what's in store at the end of the week (Thursday or Friday) when we have time for the science lab / video.

It's definitely a treat from the monotony of a textbook, and keep in mind, I never runoff worksheets from the basal companion guides cuz I don't believe in mindless tasks.  We already hone in on the important concepts through our notebooking and analysis of the nonfiction text features!  However, it's important to be able to think like a scientist, so the students always have a lab report to fill out as we conduct the experiments [The Mailbox 4th grade SUPER book has my go-to master.] Have a look at some of the pics below to see what gets the kids excited about science in my classroom:

What keeps my students motivated during the afternoon slump?  Science!  It's naturally something students are curious about.  Science lends itself to many hands-on applications, the thrill of exploring, and quite possibly a quick video clip from our dear friend: Bill Nye, NatGeo or BrainPop!

And if you've gotten this far, please feel free to add this to your Scientific Method files (a free companion to my Scientific Method unit on TpT)  Just click the image below to snag the freebie!
 Don't forget to stock up on cheap gummy bears (Walgreens frequently has coupon sales on these)!!


  1. It's hard to believe that anyone could pass up a free field trip to the science museum! That makes absolutely no sense! Kudos to you for finding ways to bring science to your students because science IS important.

  2. I love doing gummy bear experiments! Thanks for stopping by my blog, I'm your newest follower!

    Science for Kids Blog

  3. I'm so glad you found me so I could find you!! I can tell by your post I could totally teach with you! You make science (not my strength) sound so fun and exciting! I'm going to change my thinking and use it as a motivational tool! Thanks for sharing your freebie-already downloaded! And, thanks so much for linking up-hope to see you next week!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  4. I totally agree with you- not only is science so so so important, but there are so many valuable learning experiences for kids outside of SEAT WORK!

    I'm definitely going to start following your blog now that I've found it! Our school has sloooowly over the last two years started to integrate science a little bit- after the teachers kicked up a fuss that the children were missing out so much. I also make my own science units and run them just in my classroom-regardless of the "inquiry topic" the school is focusing on for the term. I haven't got in trouble... yet so I'll keep doing so until I officially start stepping on toes haha!

    I'll be back to visit again soon no doubt! From your latest follower :)

    x Serena x
    Magic Mistakes & Mayhem