FULTON – How elementary and middle school students learn science material has taken a three-dimensional approach to enhance their understanding.
Exploring what students do with hands-on lessons, how students connect information learned and what they know or retain has been the biggest shift from the traditional reading from text or note-taking from the teacher.
To better understand the new approach, Fulton City School District teachers recently collaborated with colleagues from the Oswego City School District to receive a Smithsonian Science for the Classroom units’ two-day training, facilitated at the Fulton Education Center by OCM BOCES Project-based Learning Teacher Trainer and Instructional Coach Holly Baldwin.
While the science kits directly align with the Next Generation Science Standards, Baldwin said they also pair closely with the New York State Learning Standards.
Exploring the kits, a group of second grade teachers worked through one lesson to answer the question: “How can we stop soil from washing away?”
Split into groups, teachers were tasked with either building a retaining walls using a tongue depressor, cotton balls to represent sandbags and sponges to represent roots of trees.
They drew what occurred and noted evidence of change, including use of vocabulary such as ‘erosion’ to hypothesize possible structure improvements; all of what will be expected of their students when the kits are implemented in their classrooms by month’s end.
With this shift in learning, students will be able to better ask questions and define problems, plan and carry out investigations, analyze and interpret data, develop and use materials, construct explanations and design solutions, engage in argument from evidence, use math and computational thinking and obtain, evaluate and communicate information.