I have observed a lack of emphasis on science concepts in the elementary classroom. Does this seem to be common practice in other schools? Any suggestions on how to incorporate multiple subjects within a science lesson to help alleviate this?
– K., Tennessee
The sad fact is that science, like many disciplines, takes a back seat to the big subjects: Language Arts (LA) and Math.
The tendency to treat all subjects as separate entities instead of incorporating them into many elementary learning activities only makes the disparity worse. When LA and math are emphasized on assessments, it is easy to justify reducing time spent on other subjects to make sure students understand and, hopefully, perform better. Other factors limiting science education include elementary teachers who have very little background in science and may fear teaching it; limited budgets for science supplies and resources; and limited professional development (PD) funding which is frequently earmarked for LA and math conferences which in turn leads to teachers who may not be confident in attempting exciting, hands-on activities.
Many natural phenomena can be used as thematic launch pads for wonderful learning experiences in all subjects. Millions of monarch butterflies descend on specific, isolated valleys in Mexico, but they were born all over North America. They are the grandchildren of the monarchs that hatched in Mexico! Imagine the geography, art, language, math and science that can all be taught diving into this story.
Check out NSTA’s NGSS Hub (https://ngss.nsta.org/) on how you can do this.
Hope this helps!
Photo credit: Public Domain via Pixabay