September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Science Resolutions

Posted: Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

by Donna Ross

It is that time of year again. A period of reflection and promise.  Many of us are examining our chocolate consumption, exercise regimes, spending habits, and closet organization. But, this can also be a chance to look beyond your personal habits. I encourage you to use this opportunity to think about your professional resolutions, too.  I’ve included some ideas and strategies to get you started, but you should adapt this to fit your own circumstances.

Elementary

Resolve to include more science.

Consider how much instructional time you dedicate to science each week. Make a measureable commitment to increase it. For example: I will teach at least four hours of science each week.

Resolve to make science a priority.

Consider how to model a high value for science in your classroom. For example: I will teach science before 1:00 pm so that my instruction in science does not get postponed or rushed at the end of the day.

Resolve to help students see the connections between science and the real world.

Consider how to make the science lessons relevant to students’ lives. For example: I will listen to students’ questions about the everyday world and incorporate one of their questions into a science experiment each week.

Resolve to help students understand the nature of science.

Consider how well students understand that asking questions and gathering evidence are at the heart of the discipline. For example: I will design at least one science investigation each month in which students can modify the question they investigate to make it more meaningful.

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Secondary

Resolve to make the connection between class and careers obvious.

Consider how likely students are to understand how coursework relates to career opportunities. For example: In each unit, I will show a brief video montage of careers that use these science skills and concepts.

Resolve to include hands-on investigations, labs, and field experiences.

Consider how representative students’ understanding of the nature of the discipline will be, based on the balance of seatwork, lab work, fieldwork, lectures, and exams in class. For example: Each week I will include a combination of at least three hours of field or lab experiences.

Resolve to use multiple measures of assessment.

Consider how all students are best able to demonstrate their understanding of the material. For example: I will include a creative component in each exam so that students who struggle with English can draw or model some of their responses.

Resolve to continue shifting higher order thinking to the students.

Consider how many decisions students make in each investigation and increase the control given to the students. For example: I will steadily increase the number of decisions the students make about which variables to change, which questions to investigate, which data to collect, how to record the data, and how to analyze the data.

Keeping your resolutions

Have you ever noticed the gym is crowded in January, but in February it is back to normal? Keeping our resolutions is harder than making them. Professional resolutions are just like personal ones. Here are a few hints for sticking to all of your new goals.

  • Make the resolutions specific and measureable and include a timeline.
  • Include others in your plan, both to share in the process and to hold yourself accountable.
  • Post your resolutions where you will see them often.
  • Set up reminders and a method to track your progress. Anticipate obstacles and develop solutions.
  • Build in rewards (but perhaps you shouldn’t choose hot fudge sundaes if your personal resolution is to lose weight)!
  • And, remember to be kind to yourself. If you slip, refocus and start again. The best teachers are continually striving to improve.

Have a great, science-filled 2012!

Donna Ross is associate professor of science education at San Diego State University and is CSTA’s 4-year college director.

Written by Donna Ross

Donna Ross is Associate Professor of Science Education at San Diego State University.

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