Increase your effectiveness as a science teacher for children in fourth through sixth grades.
Want to increase your effectiveness as a science teacher for the middle grades? Come learn about the nature and history of science as well as how to help students in this age group grasp the scientific method. You'll receive lots of worksheets and specific examples of some great experiments you can use in your own classroom. You will discover the principles of direct instruction and many different learning and organizational tools that will benefit your students. You'll even learn how you can use science class to improve the emotional climate in your classroom!
All through the course, you will discover worksheets and checklists you and your students can put to immediate use. You'll see how helpful they are in the lessons on the scientific method, writing a research paper, and producing a science fair. You will cover foundational content in both physical science and life science. You will learn how to use a study of the earth's atmosphere to teach students how to make and interpret a variety of graphs—an important skill for standardized testing. You will learn about some of the best websites available. By the end of this course, you will have many new skills that will benefit both you and your students.
- This course can be taken on either a PC or Mac.
- PC: Windows XP or later.
- Mac: OS X Snow Leopard 10.6 or later.
- Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
- Adobe Flash Player. Click here to download the Flash Player.
- Adobe Acrobat Reader. Click here to download the Acrobat Reader.
- Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.
- Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.
There are no prerequisites to take this course.
Instructional Material Requirements:
The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.Learn how to increase your effectiveness as a science teacher for the middle grades. This course will equip you with engaging experiments, practical worksheets, winning lesson plans, and direct instruction methods you can use immediately in your own classroom.
An Introduction to Science Instruction
In this first lesson, you'll go over the challenges and joys of teaching science to this age group. You'll learn why this subject can be so difficult to teach and some specific ways to overcome those difficulties. The lesson will also discuss how you can help your students use their textbooks most effectively and teach you some great tricks to help your students improve their memories.
The Scientific Method
You'll begin this lesson with a short history lesson. You'll learn about some of the wrong beliefs scientists held just a few centuries ago and how some courageous scientists challenged those beliefs. There will then be a discussion about different types of scientific research where you'll learn the distinctions between correlational studies, demonstrations, and experiments. You'll next focus on using the scientific method to design great experiments and become an expert at identifying control and experimental groups, and control, independent, and dependent variables. Most importantly, you'll be able to convey that knowledge to your students!
The Nature of Science
For most of human history, people believed that the sun and other planets orbited the earth. To help you gain a firm understanding of the nature of science, this lesson will discuss the lives of four scientists who challenged that conventional theory about the solar system. You'll see how humanity's understanding of the solar system changed over time, an important illustration of the development of scientific thought. After you learn about the differences between models, theories, and laws, the lesson will walk you through a lesson plan that will help your students understand the nature of science, and give you some suggestions for special projects your students might enjoy.
Principles of Direct Instruction
Research shows that using direct instruction increases achievement in the science classroom. This lesson will explain exactly what direct instruction involves and show you how it lays a strong foundation for higher-level thinking skills. You'll learn about a valuable concept called the Zone of Proximal Development, freeing you to meet the needs of the individual children in your classroom. The lesson will also discuss scaffolding, a great technique related to this concept. To demonstrate these principles, you'll go through a lesson plan step-by-step that you can use as a model.
Learning and Organizational Tools
This lesson will continue to discuss different teaching methods. First, though, you'll examine the steps that successful students follow when they learn new information. You'll see how excellent instruction helps students go through these steps and how you can meet four distinct objectives when teaching new material. You'll then move on to using outlines, charts, and concept maps. You'll view an example of an assignment checklist that you can give your students to help them stay organized. The lesson will also include a teacher's checklist to help you plan your chapter and unit studies.
Writing a Research Paper
Students must write research papers throughout their educational careers. Now is a great time to help them acquire great writing skills through direct instruction. To help your students succeed, you'll take a look at a guide that was developed to help them, which includes pages to help them organize their notes, a set of questions they should answer, a way to record the references they used, and templates for their bibliographies. For further assistance, you can give them a checklist to keep them on track. The lesson will also talk about why you should reduce your support during subsequent papers so that your students will become more independent.
The Emotional Environment in the Classroom
You know those teachers who seem to possess a special magic? Their students love them, yet they aren't pushovers. Successful teachers understand the importance of a positive emotional climate in the classroom. They know it fosters learning, encourages students' efforts, and builds great relationships. This lesson will discuss specific ways you can be one of those teachers. It will even address the special needs of this age group, since many will begin puberty during this time.
Essential Concepts in Physical Science
In this lesson, you'll concentrate on the driving force that exists in both chemistry and physics—the drive for equilibrium. You'll start by reviewing some basic principles of chemistry, including the structure and behavior of atoms, ions, and molecules. Then, the lesson will cover states of matter and the differences between their shape, volume, structure, molecular movement, and energy level. By the end of the lesson, you'll have a good understanding of thermal, mechanical, and chemical equilibrium and you'll know how to teach those concepts to your students. As a bonus, the lesson will also include some fun activities you can share with your students that they'll really enjoy.
Essential Concepts in Life Science, Part I
Amazingly, all living creatures, no matter how different, share some common characteristics. Once your students understand these characteristics, they'll have a greater appreciation for all living organisms. This lesson will go over these characteristics and talk about the way all living creatures are organized. You'll learn more about the different roles of the organ systems and about modern cell theory. Throughout the lesson, you'll receive some ideas for activities you can use to teach these concepts to your students.
Essential Concepts in Life Science, Part II
Everything that happens inside living organisms, and much of their behavior, is driven by the need to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is the maintenance of a stable internal environment, no matter what's happening in the environment. It's an essential concept for both you and your students to understand, so you'll spend some time on it in this lesson. You'll then move on to a discussion about equilibrium in ecosystems. You'll also look at a unit study that your students will love—the development of an environmental notebook.
Earth Science and Science Process Skills
As you probably know, school districts put a big emphasis on standardized tests. Students are expected to master the ability to read and interpret several different types of graphs. This lesson will use a topic in earth science, the atmosphere, to show you ways to help your students master this skill. You'll learn how to construct graphs one step at a time so that you can pass that skill on to your students. When students can construct their own graphs, they're more likely to accurately interpret those that others have made. The lesson will also cover pie charts, single- and multiple-bar charts, single- and multiple-line charts, and scatter plots.
If your school puts on a science fair, you know that it's something teachers, parents, and students often greet with a mixture of fear and dread. It doesn't have to be that way. This lesson will give you worksheets and checklists to guide you and your students every step of the way, making the process more manageable. You'll also receive a guide on oral presentations and a sample judging sheet. You'll soon come to see the value of science fairs after you finish with this lesson!
Holly Trimble earned a bachelor's degree in physical therapy from the University of Colorado, a master's degree in pediatric physical therapy from Boston University, and a master's degree in biology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. After working as a physical therapist for many years, Trimble transitioned into teaching. She has lectured on health-related topics to all age groups and works as an adjunct instructor of anatomy and physiology. She received an Adjunct Faculty Excellence Award and is the author of "College Success Now!"