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Advice for New Science Teachers {10 Tips}

I just wrote some first day organization tips for new teachers over at Texas Teacher Round-up, so I thought I would come back over here and write some tips for teachers new to teaching elementary science.
There are a lot of things you can take care of over the summer so you can relax a bit more during the school year.  You’re going to need your “me time” even more then!  :)

1. Remember that kids come in with a natural curiosity and because science can be so hands-on, they will likely enjoy your class!  Make sure your lessons dig at their curiosity.

2. Use a Science Interest Inventory to get some information about what your students like and know regarding science.  {Free Science Interest Inventory in my TpT Store}

3. Consider using science notebooks.  I have MANY blog posts devoted to science notebooks and I highly recommend using them.  See my posts on Interactive Science Notebooks.

4. Find out what curriculum and lab resources you have available to you through your school.  You may have 100 ready to use kits or you might have a slightly-used cotton ball.  It’s good to know what you’re working with before planning.  (Side note: It is possible to have a lot of great labs and lessons without all the special kits.)  Explore blogs, Pinterest, and TeachersPayTeachers.

5. Look VERY closely at your science standards and map out how you might accomplish teaching those standards in 180ish days.  Many districts do this for you, so find out how to access the information.

6. Make a list of vocabulary that will be important to explicitly teach and come up with some ideas for teaching and reviewing.  Get a word wall ready.  See my posts on Science Vocabulary.

7. Spend some time setting up your classroom.  If you’re teaching just science, you can transform it into a science lab.  If you’re teaching other subjects as well, carve out a good amount of space for anchor charts and a vocabulary word wall.  I like to make a lot of things at home so I can just go in and hang them up.  Working at home seems easier during the summer.

8. Plan out your first 2 weeks very specifically.  You’ll need to get to know your students, teach procedures, and start teaching your classes about safety, lab tools, and process skills.

9. Think a lot about cooperative learning.  You will likely have students working in groups the majority of their time in your class, unless you’re just using a textbook.  (Please don’t do that!) Many students do well when they have specific roles in a group.  This is a great article that explains Kagan structures, a specific method of structuring cooperative learning.

10. Think about how you want to structure your classes.  Here are a bunch of questions to consider:
Do you want to have a weekly quiz?
Do you want to use project-based learning?
How can you integrate literacy skills?
Will you give homework?
Will students complete a warm-up?
Do you want to use the 5E Model?
Do you want to have science stations?
How will you reach your lower students?
How will you enrich your high achievers?
What will you do with extra time?

Helpful Links
Texas Teacher Round-up: Science activities sorted by grade level and Texas standard
Science Pinterest Boards: These are my frequently updated boards for science and a variety of other education related topics.
My TpT Store: I offer a lot of products, as well as freebies.  There are freebies on my blog that are not on TpT, too.  :)
Anchor Charts Pictures: These are pics of my science anchor charts.  I update these as I make new ones.
Science Stations Webcast: This is a short webcast I made about using science stations in your classroom.
Next Generation Science Standards: This has the new standards many states are adopting.