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Science Teaching: The Old Way or the New Way?


What Has Changed?


I can remember (many, many moons ago), as a young teacher, being very nervous and sometimes panicked, whenever something “new” in education would come along that teachers were forced to implement.  Just when I thought I was getting a handle on how to be the best possible science teacher, I would be told that now I had to teach using this model or that model.   I resented spending hours preparing lessons, only to be told the following year “we aren’t doing it that way anymore”.  Teachers as a group are very organized, precise, and compulsive creatures.  We are willing to spend hours preparing to teach and we want it to be perfect when we teach it.  I would often drive myself crazy wondering the “why” of some new educational innovation.


In my 28 years of teaching, I have been through the TIM Model, Curriculum Maps, Lesson Line, Homework Hotline, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top.  I have survived state standards and national standards that are constantly changing.  Finally, after a few years it dawned on me!  These are just educational buzzwords that come and go.  This year’s “educational innovation” will go away in a couple of years and will be replaced with something new.

The new buzzword is, of course, “Common Core Standards”.  Don’t sweat it!  Here is the wisdom that many of years of teaching has bestowed upon me:  If I am teaching to the best of my ability, if I am dedicated to giving my students a rigorous science education, if I give them loads of hands-on opportunities to learn, if I make the concepts I teach relevant and practical, and if I am teaching my students to be good thinkers and problem solvers, then it will not matter what this year’s buzz word is.  We do not have to re-invent the wheel year after year.  Give your students a solid education in your subject area and you WILL be meeting the new standards.

I spent some time online reading about Common Core Standards.  You can find it here:  http://www.corestandards.org/.

I zeroed in on this page:  http://www.corestandards.org/assets/CCSSI_ELA%20Standards.pdf  since I am interested in the science standards.  Finally, on page 62 of this pdf, I found what I was looking for.  What are the new standards for science?  Without going into great detail, here is what we are now expected to teach our students:

  •           Cite specific evidence to support….
  •           Determine the central idea of….
  •           Identify key steps….
  •           Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text…
  •           Describe….
  •           Identify aspects of…
  •           Reading graphs and tables…
  •           Distinguish among…
  •           Analyze the relationship between…
  •           Follow a multi-step procedure….
  •           Compare and contrast….


See what I mean?  I have already been doing these things for years!  So if you have been hyperventilating over Common Core Standards, breathe easy…it’s going to be okay!  And remember, in a few years, it will go away and be replaced with something “new and better”!

2 comments:

Rhoda said...

That is some good advice for this 1st year biology teacher! As long as you are teaching them exactly what they should know, then no matter what changes come, it should be an easy transition.

Love your blog. It really pumps me up! :)

Amy (aka Science Stuff) said...

Thrilled that my years of experience are helpful to you!