You know the ones—the K-12 science teachers who are requested by parents year after year. They’re the teachers that are at their desks early in the morning, and well after bell time in the afternoon. Their integrated science instruction is fluid and engaging. They usually have energy to burn. And they know how to harness it from their students!
Effective integrated science instruction requires a teacher who is fully committed to using innovative teaching methods, real life tasks, a variety of assessments, and the ability to adapt instruction to best meet the needs of all students. None of these traits is present in isolation; instead the teacher employs them in concert to create a learning environment that is rigorous, thoughtful, challenging, and innovative.
A great K-12 science teacher:
- Engages students. Integrated science instruction is about far more than a chapter in a textbook or the next standards based lecture. There are multiple teaching methods that a science teacher can use that will actively engage students in their own learning. Carefully planned laboratory experiments, real world investigations, inquiry based understanding, and performance based study units are several methods that teachers can use to ensure students are mastering science concepts while remaining active in the learning process.
- Uses multiple assessment methods. A highly effective science teacher will employ a variety of assessment methods to ensure that students are learning within the integrated science instruction. Both formative and summative assessments are used to determine student understanding of the standards, mastery of skills, and areas that require reteaching. The science teacher may also implement performance based assessments, rubric scoring of classroom or cooperative work, and student self assessment as additional ways to discover what students understand.
- Adjusts instruction. Based on the data collected from the assessments, a highly effective science teacher will adjust instructional goals, plans, and teaching strategies. After all, the purpose of assessment is to modify and shape instruction. This feedback may indicate that an entire class is struggling with a single topic, requiring systemic reteaching. Or a teacher may find that a group of students would benefit from a targeted instructional intervention to support the integrated science instruction.
- Makes connections. The world of science education doesn't exist in isolation behind a set of classroom doors. Instead, the teacher should be continually seeking ways to connect the integrated science instruction to other subject areas and real world experiences. The integration of math and science is a given as the two subject areas complement and rely on each other for true student understanding. But a highly effective science teacher will also find connections to writing, social studies, art, reading, or athletics. These connections may be the trigger for students to fully engage in and understand the relationship between the science concepts and other content.
- Has strong content knowledge. A highly effective science teacher will be just as committed to her own learning as to the learning of her students. Staying current on instructional topics, as well as exhibiting the drive of a natural learner, is critical for high quality science teaching. A science teacher should also understand the most current science discoveries and findings, and not rely on outdated data. This learning may take place in the form of individual research, reading, or participation in professional development and collaboration.
For more information about effective K-12 science teaching that is fun for students and teachers alike, download the New Science Teacher webinar on demand, today!