The Value of Those Out-of Program Electives

Guest Post by Reveka – thank you!

I took a class called “Informal Science Education” as one of my out-of-program electives, and the purpose of the class was to show teachers how to use informal science resources, such as museums, to teach science. One of our assignments was to write three consecutive lesson plans – one lesson being a trip to a museum – and I of course wanted to take a literacy approach. At first I couldn’t figure out how to do it! But then it hit me. We have so many non-fiction units, and we even have our second graders writing lab reports and all-about books that incorporate science into everyday things, so why not use the museums and resources to reinforce them! I came up with just a few ways in which we could include these informal science resources in our literary units, and maybe you can think of more!

A museum trip during the nonfiction writing unit to make them “experts” on their topics!

Just think about it. Wouldn’t it be awesome if our students were able to actually visit museums and have hands-on experiences with the very things that they read about in their books? And imagine how much more descriptive the students’ nonfiction books would be if they were able to visit exhibits that talk specifically about their book’s topics! I really do think that these informal resources would be great additions to our nonfiction units. They could go to the exhibits and see new things, and do hands on investigations. Then the next day we could tell them, “Writers, yesterday at the museum we learned so many exciting things! We became experts in our topics, and today we get to add all the great, new information that we learned to our nonfiction books so that we could teach everyone else what we learned!”

Places like the New York Hall of Science save us a lot of trouble when it’s time for the lab-report unit!

I am currently interning in a second grade classroom, and we just finished our lab-report and “all-about” writing unit. The teachers on that second grade team struggled a bit with 1) the actual setting up of the experiments for the lab reports, and 2) trying to connect the lab-reports and the all-about books that the students were writing. Students had to write all-about books that taught us the ways in which science existed in everyday things, such as cleaning or driving. We teachers got how the two were connected, but the students didn’t. One way to work around both of those challenges? The New York Hall of Science! It is such a great, investigative learning environment that is fun for children and adults! And the best part is that the students can try out experiments there, as well as see many ways in which science actually exists throughout our everyday lives. It creates the meaning and the connection that we need for this unit and for our students!

The online resources that the museums provide are a great way to incorporate technology into our lessons!

There are some really great videos that the students can watch on those websites, as well as some interactive games, and many articles! And since the CCSS do ask for the students to use various sources for their writing (the internet being one of them) there really is no other resource that would be better than one developed by a museum!

The name of this class is MSTC 4852! Stay tuned for more out-of program elective recommendations!

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