May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

How to Encourage and Engage Shy Students

Posted: Friday, March 1st, 2013

by Amanda L. Smith

Shyness has no single definition, but it’s generally described as a feeling of uncomfortableness in social situations in ways that interfere with our ability to enjoy ourselves, to perform at the level we’re capable of or, that cause us to avoid social situations altogether.  It can come from a variety of sources such as disappointment from earlier childhood experiences, having predisposition to anxiety, or due to learning disabilities that cause difficulties with reading social cues. Since learning is clearly a social activity, it’s important for us to help students overcome this potential obstacle. Getting students to realize that shyness is a feeling more than it is a personality trait will give them hope that they can master their feelings and learn to muster courage when desired. 

So what can a teacher due to help their students deal with their shyness?  First, normalizing shyness in the classroom and keeping it in a positive light can provide a safe environment for learning.  Second, making even little contacts with students everyday can make them feel more connected to their peers, teacher, and learning environment.  This can be as simple as a smile, a morning handshake or high-five, or a verbal acknowledgement.  Finally, give shy students a classroom job to do.  These can be a great way to help “break the ice” between shy students and their peers. Some job ideas are door monitor, paper monitor, line leader, or trash collector.  Of course, different levels of shyness within each child need to be considered, as to not push the child into a classroom job that is too interactive when they are not up to it.

Shy children crave attention just like all your other students, but may dread it at the same time.   A simple but effective way to boost the self-esteem of a shy child is to post their achievements on your classroom bulletin board. Even a short email to the parent of a shy child, (or directly to the child if they are in secondary school), with a simple, “Nice job today!” or, “Thanks for raising your hand and contributing to our discussion!” can give the shy child just enough confidence boosters over time to develop their classroom participation abilities and increase their engagement.

Science can be a particularly daunting subject, especially for your shy students.  From my own experience, I have noticed that students who are particularly shy in science tend to believe they have low aptitude and/or present low self-esteem when it comes to the ability to do well in science.  To reach these students, the science teacher may have to make more effort to get to know these students, and to encourage them to think about the relevancy and real-life connections of what science offers.  Also, with this increased bonding between teacher and student, the shy student will then be more motivated to study science and find small successes in day-to-day activities.  The goal is that over time, the student will be able to respond positively to this encouragement from the teacher and the shyness will slowly be replaced with confidence.

It’s also important to educate parents about shyness and skill development.  Parents can play games with their child at home to encourage and practice social skills, like raising hands to provide answers, reading stories aloud to the parent, (instead of the parent to the child), or putting on plays and skits.  The more the child can practice conquering the feeling of shyness, the more confidence the child will ultimately bring into the classroom setting.

Written by Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith is a science teacher at Wilder’s Preparatory Academy Charter School and a member of CSTA.

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

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.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.