Supporting Your Future Scientist

Parents-

llinois is among the 26 lead states that have worked collaboratively to update science standards, called Next Generation Science Standards, under the guidance of Achieve, Inc.  (source: ISBE) These internationally-benchmarked standards provide a new vision for K-12 science and engineering education and set the stage for a significant shift in how those subjects may be viewed and taught in Illinois and across the nation. The following is an excerpt from Scientific American blog explaining these changes that I thought you may find helpful. Click on the blue title to read the full article.

Why America’s Kids Need New Standards for Science Education

By Anna Kuchment | January 8, 2013 |

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a comprehensive set of K-12 student “performance expectations” for the areas of Earth and space science, life science, and physical science. They integrate concepts of engineering and technology and develop ties to the math and English “Common Core” standards.

Simply put, the NGSS will revolutionize science education for most of the country, at least for the states that choose to adopt them. Though they contain the latest and most up-to-date findings of science, their strength lies in incorporating the latest and most up-to-date advances in pedagogy and educational research. The NGSS move away from presenting science as a list of facts to be memorized and present science as a set of practices to be done. In fact, every grade-appropriate performance expectation, each sentence, ties together a particular science content with a science practice; you cannot pull the content out into a list of factoids.

The aim of NGSS is to identify what students can do, not what they know. After all, if you want to know how many planets there are, you can always look that up on the web. If you want to understand why they are important and how they function as part of a system, the solar system, then there are a set of practices you should do, which the NGSS identify as (1) Asking Questions and Defining Problems, (2) Developing and Using Models, (3) Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, (4) Analyzing and Interpreting Data, (5) Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking, (6) Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions, (7) Engaging in Argument from Evidence, and (8) Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information.

HOW CAN I HELP MY CHILD AT HOME?

The following is an excerpt from the National Science Teachers Association Parent Resource:

Set High Expectations

What you say to your child is important. But what may be even more important is what you don’t say.

Parents often convey their attitudes and expectations in indirect ways. If you tell your children, “I never liked science in school” or “I got my worst grades in science,” you convey the expectation that science classes will be boring or difficult, or worse, that you would accept low performance in science. On the other hand, if you say, “I wish I could do that experiment with you” or “I’m so glad that you are having opportunities that I missed,” you will open doors for your children.

Not every child, of course, is destined to seek a career in science. But every child should be able to become a scientifically literate adult, and all children should know that if they choose science as a career, they can succeed. Parental expectations can encourage positive attitudes and personal best.

Don’t forget, too, that girls are every bit as curious as boys are about science. Buy your daughter that tool kit. And remember that science is often “messy.” Recognize the difference between clutter that comes from enthusiastic activity and the sloppy piles that result from neglect.

Other Helpful Tips

  • Encourage your child to take things apart! Old toys, clocks, and household appliances are great lessons—and don’t worry about putting them back together!
  • Don’t forget about safety. Supervise young children as needed.
  • Discuss science and technology careers. When you encounter people in science-related careers, encourage your children to ask questions about these jobs and the training needed for them.
  • Explore informational websites, science centers, museums, and natural science institutions to give children the chance to make independent discoveries and participate in scientific processes while having fun.
  • Check out science-related library books and read them together. NSTA publishes a list of outstanding children’s science trade books for kindergarten through 12th-grade students selected by a book review panel appointed by NSTA and assembled in cooperation with the Children’s Book Council (CBC).
  • Encourage children to explore awards programs and competitions that bolster science learning.

Click the picture above to visit the NSTA website and to read more about helping your future scientist.

Language Arts Instruction

     One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of teaching first grade is creating a language arts program that meets the wide range of developmental abilities students bring to the classroom.  To best meet this challenge, first graders will participate in a variety of daily literacy experiences.

READING WORKSHOP    

    Time will be reserved daily for students to practice reading independently.  A wide range of reading materials will be provided to practice applying reading strategies, promote fluency and build confidence as readers.  Whole group lessons using large books, chart poems, and songs provide the opportunity for students to participate as a reader with the support of the group.  We will use this time to demonstrate phonemic awareness, early reading strategies, build vocabulary and discuss story elements.  The MyView reading series will serve as our main source of materials for these lessons.

 

    GUIDED READING SMALL GROUP INSTRUCTION

     Students will work in small groups with a teacher or specialist to practice skills appropriate for their current level of reading.  Small groups will be selected based on student scores using the TRC test scores, teacher observations, classroom performance and student interests.  Small groups are reformed at regular intervals throughout the school year to reflect reading progress. Working with leveled books our lessons will focus on phonics, fluency, and comprehension.

WORD WORK

    In order to read and write effectively, first graders must learn to recognize and spell the most commonly written words in the English language quickly.  These “sight words” will be introduced in the classroom and then sent home for practice.  First graders are expected to master 100+ basic words by the end of the school year.  They must also develop the ability to manipulate letter sounds and recognize letter patterns to identify and spell unfamiliar words.  A combination of whole class activities and independent assignments will be used to develop this phonological awareness.

 

WRITING WORKSHOP 

  Just as in our reading program, our writing program continues to provide differentiated instruction for all learners by utilizing a variety of writing lesson formats.  Students will participate in interactive writing lessons, sharing the pen with the teacher, to compose messages and stories on chart paper.  Daily instruction in grammar, punctuation and story elements will guide students as they are provided the opportunity to independently write for different purposes.  Students will participate in the revision and editing process as their written work is prepared for publishing.  Our writing program is supplemented by Units of Study for Primary Writing: A Yearlong Curriculum.