Artifacts of My Science Teaching Skills
Planning and Instruction
Throughout my PS2 practicum, I have experimented with several approaches to classroom management.
I started with a lot of group work and collaborative learning with my grade 9 science class, however more chatting happened than learning so I changed my approach to individual note-taking and direct instruction strategies.
For two weeks I started every section 9A class with a quiet relaxation technique. I played a 2-minute audio clip with a guided visualization from www.calm.com. Some of the students really benefited from this practice, but many chose not to participate. Even though it was only 2 minutes, I would spend 5 to 10 minutes at the start of class time settling the students in and waiting for them to stop talking. Since I was not willing to settle my class down twice at the start of the period, I decided to instead do the visualization as a closure. By the end of class, though, students would prefer to talk with one another than sit quietly. I do not think that any of them benefitted from this quiet time as closure.
I started my practicum with giving the Science 14s a lot of free reign. We learned through hands-on activities, role-playing, and lab experiments in which I encouraged talking, investigation, and collaboration. Unfortunately, some students did not benefit from this louder environment and requested to take notes quietly from the board. I modified my management and grew more and more strict about chatter during instruction time. While I still included hands-on activities and trips to the school science lab, I balanced this approach with note-taking from a PowerPoint presentation.
I grew into a routine of teaching my grade 9s using the "golden silence of wait-time." I noticed that for the two groups of 33 students, absolute silence was key to classroom management. I would not let any student chatter while I was talking, and would sometimes pause mid-sentence to wait for their attention. The group mentality would soon kick in and other students would "shh" each other. This has been a very effective technique.
I assessed the Science 14s summatively at least twice a week (with a lab report/assignment and a weekly test), and formatively every day with notebook checks, handouts, or formative "quick quizzes."
Over my 7-week practicum I assessed the grade 9s summatively with three tests and 7 mini-assignments. On assignments I would include self-reflection questions such as: "what is one thing that I still don't understand or would like to know more about?" I would use this information formatively.