Time. There never seems to be enough time to “cover” all of the content and certainly not enough to effectively TEACH all of the content. I want to stay off my soapbox and be proactive with this post.
I’ve had different situations each year for the amount of time I have to teach science. Here’s what I *think* I had in the past.
Year 1: 45 minutes a day
Years 2-4: 60 minutes/day for science/ss
Year 5: 100 minutes/week
Year 6: 90 minutes/day for science/ss
I’m in Year 6 now and yes, I am spoiled beyond belief. Science is tested in 5th grade in Texas, so in all but Year 5, I had to have my students pass a test in April. This year, I feel like I have just enough time to effectively teach the content, so I have to think hard to remember how I did it in the past.
Here are some ideas for teaching science in short amounts of time. Some might work for you, others might not. Hopefully, you may be inspired by something listed.
1. Science Weekly Five
When I taught 4th grade self-contained, I had about 100 minutes a week to teach science to my class. Luckily, I could tweak my schedule to make it work with the activities planned. We used Science Weekly Five effectively. We introduced a concept for a couple of days using a lab, science notebooks, and video clips. Then, students completed the Science Weekly Five for the concept. We also had some other activities for each unit. I never felt like I went deep enough with limited time and I would do things a bit differently a second time around, but using SW5 was definitely a hit!
2. Science Literacy Center
Students are required to read a lot of informational and procedural text. I loved having a science content center. Students would read, observe, and play.
3. Science Text
Integrate, integrate, integrate. When learning about nonfiction text features and structures, use science text. When learning about procedural text, have students work through a lab. Writing about science can be journaling or morning work. When researching, research science topics. When students were learning research skills in 4th grade, they learned about space. Easy connection.
4. Read + Lab
Students can do labs during your “science block” and read about science during literacy centers or reader’s workshop. I’ve heard from some great teachers that do this effectively, so it may be worth a shot.
5. Science Fridays
I have heard from some teachers that do Science Fridays. It’s not necessarily every week, but they plan a larger block of time for Friday to give students enough time to conduct a full inquiry experiment.
Sometimes using technology takes a longer time, but sometimes it speeds things up. If your students go to the computer lab weekly, use some of your lab time to research, blog, watch videos, and do internet labs.
Do you have students pulled from your class for a period of time each day for math and reading? You are likely pulling groups for reading and math, too. You can allow your students who don’t need intervention to work on science projects.
8. Switch up your blocking
Instead of doing science and social studies every day, alternate back and forth. Some people alternate by unit, day, or week. This really depends on what works for you, your campus, and your admin.
9. 5th Grade Friends
If you are in the younger grades, pair up with a few students in an older grade. I currently send 5 of my fifth graders to work with a Kindergarten class 2 days a week during 5th grade’s intervention time. The students work with the kinder teacher to know what to do, then they each work with a small group. It is PRECIOUS! The kinder teacher loves it because her kiddos are able to get more done with the extra helpers.
Super duper organize yourself and your students. Have everything ready to go and organized before you begin. If groups need cards, cut them out and have them in baggies already on their tables. Have things pre-made for your students. Train them to set things up quickly.
Please share! What works for you?