MAT Blog

Essential Qualities of a Highly Effective Science Teacher.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Jul 7, 2012 5:37:00 AM

Integrated science teaching requires an energetic and engaged science teacher.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!



Tags: formative assessments, integrated science instruction, K-12 science teachers, on demand webinar

Quickwrites are a Great Instruction and Assessment Tool.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Oct 27, 2011 12:28:00 PM

Marygrove MAT shows how teachers use quickwrites as a formative assessment. One of the best strategies for developing writing fluency and reading comprehension skills is the Quickwrite. Also called entry or exit slips, these formative assessments allow students to respond to a text question in an open format. Formative assessments are generally conducted throughout a unit to measure progress and evaluate student performance. Quickwrites are an excellent way for teachers to verify what a student is learning, and tailor their instruction accordingly.

One way to do this is called “the muddiest point,” where students write a quickwrite explaining what they don’t understand from that day’s lesson.

There are many ways to execute a quickwrite, but usually teachers provide an open-ended question on a slip of paper to each student. Some teachers prefer to write the question on the board in front of the class. The teacher then gives students a specific amount of time—anywhere from two to ten minutes– to respond in writing.  Some teachers provide a ticking timer with an alarm, as it helps students pace themselves. Make sure you emphasize to students that grammar and spelling are not important in this exercise.

When time’s up, all students must stop writing, even if it is mid-sentence. That’s because Quickwrites are generally used to gauge feedback about the amount of material a student can remember quickly, before, during or after reading.  

When the Quickwrite is complete, teachers can offer up an ideal response to the question posed, although, this is not always necessary. Providing an example does help students evaluate for themselves what they do and do not know about the text: an inherent benefit to this assessment tool– it can serve both teacher and student. 

Some of the best quickwrites occur when students are invested in the question. This is done by including a hook that students are interested in. For example, if you want students to think about the importance of dialogue in a story, set up the quickwrite so that they create dialogue about something they care about:  

Elementary students might dialogue about two people observing a parade. “Describe what you and your mother would say to each other while watching the Thanksgiving Day parade.”

Secondary students might dialogue about a friendship issue. “Write a discussion between two friends who disagree about going to a dance.”

A related tool to have on hand is Scholastic’s helpful book of Quickwrite examples for Grade Five and up that gets students writing. (Linda Rief, 100 Quickwrites. New York:  Scholastic, 2003).

Anxiety-prone students may have trouble writing under pressure at first, but will get used to the drill over time. You can allay stress by reminding students that these activities are not graded. In the beginning of the year, it helps to allow students to use their notes or textbooks.

Teachers who use this strategy frequently say it is a great way to do many things in a very short amount of time. Quickwrites allow students to practice writing and critical thinking skills as a low-stakes activity without the burden of grade anxiety.

The versatility of Quickwrites are many…teachers can use them for

  • Reading comprehension quizzes, across curriculum
  • Triggering prior knowledge for scaffolding
  • Warming up the reading and writing muscles
  • Promoting reflection about key concepts
  • Prompting class discussion   
  • Reinforcing vocabulary, across curriculum
  • Practicing reviewing and synthesizing material covered in class,

And much more!  Tell us how you use Quickwrites effectively with your students.

For more excellent ideas to boost comprehension in your classroom, grab our FREE Comprehension Guide, today!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: quickwrites, formative assessments, evaluate student performance, reading comprehension, download, reading comprehension strategy, writing fluency, Marygrove MAT

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