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Brian's Class Materials- FALL 2011 - SEYS 562

SEYS 562 Home

Queens College/CUNY
Education Unit
Fall 2011


This course is intended to give you the tools you will need to become a successful science teacher. However, the most important things which you will bring to the classroom will be your attitudes towards the students and towards teaching science. The educational system of the United States does NOT provide equal opportunities for all students. The system as it stands benefits white males and the economically well-off at the expense of most other groups. During your science teaching career you must always keep in mind that certain students, i.e. the physically challenged, females, African-Americans, Hispanic, Native Americans, and many other minority groups, are at a serious disadvantage in the traditional classroom. This does NOT mean that these groups are in any way deficient. A different educational system, designed to cater to the strengths of women and minorities, might be one in which white males would be at the bottom of the totem pole. The richness of all cultures, and the ideas of both males and females, should become a part of every science lesson. To be an effective teacher of all students, you must remain a lifelong learner. You must learn about women's issues, the needs and strengths of the physically challenged, African-American history, etc. and attempt to integrate the important concerns and issues which affect your students, into your lessons. Science belongs to all cultures simply because all cultures have made invaluable contributions to it. Diversity is a great strength of our nation and we should use it constructively to enrich our science classrooms. The following is a partial list of some characteristics and attitudes of excellent science programs and their teachers:

1) Every student is capable of doing great, wonderful things. All students can learn science. All students can find some aspects of science with which they will enjoy or become fascinated.

2) Every student deserves the best education we can give them. All students should be scientifically literate. All students have a right to choose a scientific career and they should be given the chance to do so.

3) A good teacher tries to always treat all of her or his students equally.

4) Society does not treat all students equally and this effects their performance in the classroom. The teacher must always be aware of factors outside the school which affect the students. A good teacher will get to know the students' parents, friends, culture and the surrounding community. This is essential.

5) A good teacher cares about her or his students and wants all of them to succeed in life.

6) A good science teacher is absolutely fascinated by all matters pertaining to science and is always on the lookout for something new, exciting and interesting to show to her or his classes.

7) Variety is the key! Your students should always come to your class eager to see what crazy, wild, off-the-wall, fantastic thing you are going to do that day.

8) A good teacher is flexible. Be prepared to take productive student- or event-suggested tangents. Don't blindly follow a schedule or textbook. Don't even think about teaching from a textbook. Don't give your students an inferior science education! Search far and wide in many science textbooks, magazines, journals, newspapers, etc. to prepare your lessons. Don't be a textbookaholic!

9) Involve the students! Don't lecture! Let the students DO science. Provide them with opportunities to experience many aspects of science. Guide them, be available for advice and assistance, but do not spoon-feed them. Hands-on discovery and inquiry are the best methods for teaching most secondary school science.

10) Rote memorization and the use of science jargon is a low priority at the secondary level. Instead strive to teach the HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills). Give the students experiences which stimulate and interest them.

11) Above all, make your classes and science FUN and ENJOYABLE! One way to do this is to make your classes relevant to the students' everyday lives.

12) Use cooperative learning. Let your students work in groups and stress cooperation instead of competition.

13) Use authentic assessment. Don't just rely on fill-in-the bubble multiple choice tests. Use essay questions, have your students draw diagrams, give laboratory practical exams, use portfolios, etc. Your assessment should be made up of a variety of methods.

14) Use wait time. After asking a student a question, WAIT for two to three seconds, to allow her or him time to answer .

15) Accommodate different learning styles and modalities in your classes.

16) Teach your students to be good citizens, of their community, state, nation and the world.

17) Stress that people of all cultures in the world have made invaluable contributions to science. Make sure your students can name male and female scientists from many cultures of the world.

18) Teach your students about career opportunities in science. Provide the students with specific information on the coursework needed in high school and college to pursue science careers.

19) Bring scientist role models, male and female, of all ethnic groups, to your classroom to speak to your students.

20) Get OUT of the classroom. Take field trips, have outdoor activities, labs, visit museums, zoos, parks, and industries.

21) Answer students' questions honestly and don't be afraid to say "I don't know, but I'll try my best to find out."

22) Always be well prepared for your lessons. Have good, well- organized lesson plans done well in advance.

23) Always try all experiments and practical work in advance before using them with the students.

24) Be safety conscious at all times.

25) Have a classroom which maximizes learning. The students have a right to a good science education. If your class is always in a noisy uproar, you are not being fair to the students.

26) Make your students feel a pride in their accomplishments. Make sure that they don't feel you are wasting their time. Explain to them and show them why it is important to be scientifically literate.

27) Respect your students and they will respect you. Be a fair, consistent manager of the classroom. Let the students know what to expect if they misbehave and always follow through appropriately.

28) Never leave your class unsupervised. Be aware of what is happening in the room at all times. Develop a "third eye" in the back of your head. Nip problems in the bud. Encourage your students to work together and to treat each other with respect. Do fun things together as a class.

29) Equip your students with the skills they will need to survive in our technological society. Your students should be computer-literate. All students should know how to use a Macintosh and an IBM-compatible computer for word-processing, spreadsheets and database searching. Your students should be able to use telecommunications and send and receive electronic mail.

30) Teach your students the study skills which they will need to do well in science in college. Make sure that your students know the tricks involved in taking standardized tests. Use mnemonics and everything you can think of to help students to survive in the educational system which they will find when they leave your classroom. The environments in which the students find themselves in the future may not be as supportive as what you have provided. You need to equip them to survive and flourish throughout their educational careers.

31) Encourage your students to do science fair projects. Decorate your room with the students' work. Publicize your students' successes. Let the parents and community know when your students are doing well. 32) Get involved in extracurricular and community activities.

33) Above all, don't forget about science! Always be on the lookout for opportunities. Get ideas anywhere you can. Consult with and observe other teachers. Discuss ways in which you could improve your teaching.

34) Women and members of minority groups are underrepresented in science careers. It is an important part of your job to provide special encouragement to students from these groups.

35) Don't be satisfied with the status quo. If it doesn't work don't be afraid to try something new.

36) Think back and try to remember the characteristics of the teachers you really respected and from whom you learned a lot. Try out some of their teaching techniques to see if they are still appropriate today.

There are many other important characteristics of good science teachers which may not have been included here. Discovering new techniques and methods that work is part of what makes teaching science so stimulating, envigorating, challenging and emjoyable. With new developments in telecommunications, there is no longer any need for teachers to be isolated. We are on the threshold of a revolution in education where teachers from all over the world will be linked electronically. There is virtually no limit on the innovations and improvements you can make in your teaching since the world is literally at your fingertips. All it takes is a sincere desire and continuing effort on the part of the teacher to learn and improve. You are very lucky individuals to have entered one of the most exciting, fascinating and challenging careers available today, that of the Science Teacher!