January 2015 – Vol. 27 No. 5

Are You Treating Your August Students Like June Students?

Posted: Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

I enjoy my job. When someone mentions that summer is almost over, I imagine the well-behaved, cooperative students that will be joining my class, just like the ones that I said goodbye to in June. Except…the students who will enter my classroom in August are not the students from this past June. It’s easy to forget that those students were well-behaved and cooperative because I taught them to be that way.

More than one classroom management book emphasizes that the first moments with new students are crucial. The first greeting, assignment, and seating arrangement all set the tone for the rest of the year. Explicitly teaching new students classroom routines and required behaviors is just as important. Putting in the time and effort during the first week of school will pay off in time saved for learning and in less aggravation for the teacher and students.

While teaching students desired routines and behaviors the first few weeks of school are essential, the key to maintaining them lies in revisiting them frequently. Never assume that students remember what you expect. It is easier and more effective to review expectations regularly while students are still conducting themselves in the manner you have asked, than trying to re-teach those classroom structures after they have fallen apart. This is true regardless of what they look like in your individual classroom. Every day of the first week of school, I provide all the expectations to my students verbally as well as in written form on the front board. (While we all need our front boards for academics, the academic outcomes cannot be achieved until students are clear on what we want from them. This is not to minimize the power of well-planned, engaging lessons on student behavior.) After the first few weeks of daily reviewing, I provide intermittent reminders for the remainder of the school year. I always make a point of revisiting procedures and expected behaviors after holidays and the first day of each new grading period. The short amount of time this takes is rewarded in students who are friendly, cooperative, and efficient. Additionally, it creates an environment where the maximum amount of time can be spent on learning.

Just as it is easy for students to forget teacher expectations, it is just as easy for teachers to forget the amount of effort they need to put in at the beginning of the school year in order for their classroom to run smoothly. Pulling out your favorite classroom management books now and quickly reviewing the main concepts can be just the reminder you need to be sure you designate enough time to this critical component of any classroom. My favorite classroom management books are:

My best wishes to all of you for a successful and fulfilling school year!

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is president-elect of CSTA.

2 Responses

  1. Great article Lisa! I’ll be sure to share this with my pre-service teachers.

  2. Very true words, and ideas that I try to instill in all my student teachers. Thanks for sharing!

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LATEST POST

Inspire One of Your Colleagues in the New Year!

Posted: Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

Is it really 2015 already? Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday I was planning my trip to the Long Beach NSTA Conference, in collaboration with CSTA, and just like that, it is over. But not so fast – when one conference ends, the planning for another begins. Arrangements for the 2015 California Science Education Conference in Sacramento are well underway. If you came away from the Long Beach conference with something incredible, consider how you can pay that forward by being an inspiration to someone else next year. Learn More…

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is president-elect of CSTA.

The NGSS Crosscutting Concepts Make Science Learning 3D!

Posted: Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

The idea that structure relates to function is pretty abstract for 1st graders. To get them thinking about structure and function in living things we started by having them draw a picture of what they thought a fish looks like. I have found that people have preconceived, cartoon versions of what things look like in their heads that can interfere with their ability to make objective observations of the real thing; it is helpful to give them a chance to draw that cartoon before having them observe the real thing and compare it to their drawing. (See How People Learn [1] for more about prior knowledge and also more about fish).  Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District, Co-Chair of the 2013 Conference Committee, and a member of CSTA.

Next Generation Science Standards: Jump Right In

Posted: Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

by Jennifer McGranahan

In the midst of all that is new this year – implementing Common Core for Language Arts and Mathematics, the new ELA/ELD Framework and our district’s Personalized Learning Plans – we are also hearing more about the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS). As a 6th grade classroom teacher, when I heard the acronym “NGSS,” I quickly put it out of my mind. My brain couldn’t face one more new expectation. However, I had majored in biology in college and had decided I wanted to focus on improving my teaching in science, and NGSS kept creeping back into my thoughts no matter how hard I tried to ignore it. Before I knew it, I was part of a team of teachers in my district selected to be part of the California K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. With the honor of being an Early Implementer came trainings during the summer and regular school year, and hours crafting and planning “beautiful” NGSS lessons that include 3-dimensional learning that I am not familiar with. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Actually, it is!!  Learn More…

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From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

What’s Your 2015 Resolution?

Posted: Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

by Laura Henriques

I heard a story on the radio about New Year’s Resolutions. It seems that about 44% of people make resolutions each year with 42% of them self-reporting that they’ve kept the resolution all year. That means about 18% of us make and keep a resolution each year. While the success rate isn’t all that high, the researcher being interviewed seemed to think that action of making a resolution is still a good thing. It helps us be intentional about our goals and actions, or at least our intended goals and actions! She seemed to think that simply stating your resolution and trying to keep it helped us move in our desired direction.

With that in mind, what is your professional resolution for 2015? Will you read an article related to teaching science each month? Support a colleague? Be a Master Teacher for a student teacher? Serve on a committee at school or the district? Share your expertise with others by presenting a workshop at the CSTA conference in Sacramento or writing an article for California Classroom Science (CCS)? Get better connected to other science education professionals? Try something new to help you transition to NGSS? Apply to serve on the CSTA Board of Directors?

Whatever your science education resolution is for 2015, CSTA can help.  Learn More…

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and president of CSTA.