Science for all

Table of Contents

There’s been a lot of activity in the social media sites about the relevance of professional development. Some of the best PD I had came from working informally with special education teachers. I had students with special needs in my classes and my colleagues helped me come to the same conclusions as the SS Editor: … that the strategies advocated for special education students could be useful in better teaching all my students. The strategies described in this issue are also relevant to elementary and high school students and teachers. As I read these articles, I kept a list of strategies that would be appropriate to use with all students (noted in bold face).

An increasing number of students are affected by autism spectrum disorders. Great Science for Autistic Students provides information about Asperger’s syndrome and describes several classroom strategies that are particularly helpful for these students: providing a schedule of daily events, having specific suggestions for down time, minimizing distractions, concept mapping, and adding visual aids to directions. The authors note that these students may struggle with open-ended activities, learning terminology out of context, and some process skills.

Cooperative Learning in an Inclusive Science Classroom provides a step-by-step process to ensure that all students have the opportunity to participate actively: observing how all students interact in a classroom, designing cooperative learning groups, and using specific strategies. The authors elaborate on three strategies: Round Robin for sharing answers or responses, Peer Coaching, and personal whiteboards.

The authors of Science Education and ESL Students take a typical science lesson (related to bird’s beaks)  and show how to adapt it for a class with ESL students. They provide examples of handouts and have several suggestions for adaptations: simpler language, pictorial representations, a variety of assessment tools (such as drawings or interviews), and peer interpreters. [SciLinks: Bird Adaptations]

The Three Keys to Success in Science for Students with Learning Disabilities includes focusing on “big ideas,” using graphic organizers, and mnemonic strategies. In the section on mnemonic strategies, the authors suggest examples created by the teacher. I also found it even more beneficial for the students to create their own “silly sayings” (my students would have had a hard time with the word mnemonics).

Synergistic Strategies describes the connections between science inquiry and sheltered instructional strategies for ELL students. The authors describe strategies common to both: content connected to students’ experiences, meaningful and memorable materials, learning by doing, opportunities for application, student groups and interactions, and teacher behaviors (such as clear speech, eye contact, wait time, open-ended questions, and classroom management). The article also discusses some recommendations for designing and communicating lesson objectives for ELL students.

In my classroom visits, I often see word walls. The authors of Interactive Word Walls provide examples of word wall that are more than a static, teacher-posted list of words. The article has photographs of student-generated illustrations and word walls that resemble dynamic concept maps, with moveable words and illustrations showing the relationships among the terms.

Using Notebooks to Aid Organization includes a notebook rubric that focuses on the content and organization (rather than neatness and compliance with teacher directions). The teacher-author notes that she keeps a notebook herself that mirrors the student notebook. Students can use hers as a model or as a reference for missed classes.

How many of these strategies do you already use? Which ones could be added to your repertoire?

As always, this issue of SS includes investigations that would be of interest to middle schoolers and that help them learn and use process skills. This month includes The Incredible Growing Gummi Bear, Osmosis and Diffusion, I Scream for Ice Cream (in 45 minutes), and Water Screen: A Discrepant Event [SciLinks: Osmosis, Diffusion].

Revisting Recycling describes a topic that is relevant to all students. The authors note that the common phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” should be a goal in every classroom—e.g., reusable water bottles, using both sides of a piece of paper, or purchasing items made from recycled materials. [SciLinks: Recycling]

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  1. Mary Bigelow
    Posted November 10, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink
  2. Kari
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    The links appear to be “broken” they take you to the general journal page. To get the article copy the link and search in the NSTA main page search bar. The article should appear then.

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