Featured, Science, Split Grade Teaching

Teaching Science to a Split Grade Class.

Teaching science to a split grade class can be a struggle, especially since science is a very interactive subject. Learn how to do it with these tips! classroom | students

Teaching science to two grades is always a juggling act.  Lots of preparation needs to go into how you are going to teach two separate units to two different grades.  I always teach a 4/5 and generally have the students for two years.  So combining the units and teaching one lesson like I can in math and language does not work well.  So it comes down to focusing on what is important, borrowing strategies from other subjects, organization and teaching independence.  I teach in 20-30 min time blocks to each grade.  Then they will have to learn independently as they do the task.  However over time I have learned that sometimes students miss the point of the lesson this way as I am not there to guide them.  However I have learned that there are some key strategies to make sure that the time students are working independently that they are learning the stuff I want them to learn.

Struggling to plan for a split grade class? Learn how to teach science, a more interactive class, to a split grade class with these tips!
Focus on What is Important

It all starts with the assessment and the cycle of assessment 1) Learning Goals and Success Criteria

First thing I do is share my learning goals and success criteria.  For each lesson for each grade I post it share it, make a big deal about it.  Students should always know what they are doing and why they are doing it.  I also make sure I post it.  I have a science board.  All things Science are on this board if students are not so sure then they can look here.  They also know that if it is posted on this board they will and can be assessed on it.  They must know the topics listed on this board.  I start with the daily goals on the board (smartboard or chart cart)  Once students have learned this we then transfer it onto the science board.
For example.
Today we are learning to identify and describe different types of Energy
 – we will read about different types of energy
– we will conduct experiments to see different types of energy in action
– we will use this experiment to help us describe each type of energy
– we will reflect on what we learned to help us figure it all out.

2) Borrow from Math

So the latest instructional strategy in math is to use a three part lesson plan in math to teach different concepts
  • Getting started
  • Working on It
  • Reflection
I thought if it works in math why not in science.  So I started with this question:”How do I build reflection into science so that I can use it for formative assessment purposes?” My solution…
INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOKS
these are very popular on TPT right now and I thought how do I use these in authentic ways.  I don’t just want cut and paste activities that have no meaning.  I did struggle with why would I spend the time having students assemble these if they could simple answer a few questions in their notebook.  However I like the look of them and feel that students will want to use them and decorate them.  I will structure my notebooks in this way.  On the left students will put their notes and interactive notebook activities on here.  On the Right students will complete their reflection activity.  Many of the interactive notebooks are based on the 3R reflection response that I completed in teachers college.  The 3R’s represent Retell, Relate, Reflect.  The left side represents the Retell portion and the right side represents the reflection section.  The relate portion is weaved into both aspects.  I find that with student reflection and retell I can gauge what students have learned and where we should focus.  I don’t mark these, but I do read them and make note of student needs.  They are great formative assessment.
Struggling to plan for a split grade class? Learn how to teach science, a more interactive class, to a split grade class with these tips!

Organization

Ok this is a goal and always will be.  It is inevitable that as a teacher you must organize and organize well. As a split grade teacher there is no option  you must put on your OCD hat and organize like a crazy person.  (this is why everything in my classroom has labels, students have numbers, books are colour coded, and why I hate paper.    Even your planning needs to be organized.  For this purpose I am constantly making tables and charts to organize my lessons and feel like I live with timers dinging and signaling me to change what I am doing.  I also feel that whenever possible you should utilize student and parent volunteers.  I know I cannot do this on my own but I do have very helpful students (who love to stay inside instead of going out in the snow) or parent volunteers.  I use these volunteers to organize my centers, fill buckets, order papers, photocopy or whatever else I need help with.  I know I cannot do it all so I ask for help from whom ever is available and willing to help.

Teaching Independence

I have blogged before about my tips for teaching a split grade here but in science this is a very important skill.  For a science class in a split grade students are often not completing a quiet activity.  They are engaged in hands on activities or group work.  This means that it is imperative that students learn how to work together and work independently as a group without you.  You have to be okay with a bit of noise and you need multiple teaching spaces.  Independent students does not mean quiet students independent students means engaged students.  Check out my guide to Teaching Independence Free on TPT.

I have finally finished my next combined unit for my 4/5 plans.  In January I go back to work from my maternity leave.  If you follow my 4/5 long range plans you would know that I have planned to teach two science units: Rocks and Minerals and Conservation of Energy.

Struggling to plan for a split grade class? Learn how to teach science, a more interactive class, to a split grade class with these tips!
Struggling to plan for a split grade class? Learn how to teach science, a more interactive class, to a split grade class with these tips!Struggling to plan for a split grade class? Learn how to teach science, a more interactive class, to a split grade class with these tips!

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4 Comment

  1. Reply
    Grade 4 Buzz
    November 23, 2014 at 12:06 am

    I wish you taught grade 3/4 – Ontario. LOL! I love your resources! I have added this to my wishlist. Maybe next year I'll move up! Thanks!
    -Lisa
    Grade 4 Buzz

  2. Reply
    Rebecca Abrams
    January 22, 2015 at 6:48 am

    It is true that teaching science to two grades is always a juggling act. Your goal setting idea is really appreciating one, I like the way you have explained, interesting. You can check best essay writing service for writing tips and tricks.

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    Research Paper Help
    February 24, 2016 at 12:38 pm

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