A Cure for Remote Teaching Doldrums… Science!
March 19, 2021
Did March sneak up on you this year, more like a wall than a rainbow? After having my students remote learning this entire year, the combination of running spring conferences at the same time as discovering we will be state testing left me feeling stuck. Though my class has been reading novels and hanging in there through hours of fraction, decimal, and PEMDAS problems, something wasn’t right.
The windy gray weather outside seemed to reinforce the feeling. Even with news of vaccine rollouts and the potential for safe school openings, I was finding it difficult to find new and innovative ways to liven up what I had already reinvented several times throughout the year.
I knew I needed to find a way to get us all back on track. That’s when I decided spring would be the right time to allow science to take center stage, and drive my curriculum. Of course, we’ll keep reading novels, and tackling word problems, but now we’ll have a window open to the universe to let in some light and sense of adventure! Here are a handful of resources I’d like to share with you to help reignite your students’ remote learning experience, as well.
Nasa has long been a resource for teachers looking to expand their Science and STEM curriculum. Their STEM Resources for K-12 Educators contain a wealth of resources where students can learn more about the recent landing of Perseverance or take on design challenges like designing a robotic insect or a new rover on Mars! On the other hand, if you are more interested in using asynchronous time to inspire families to do science with their children at home, then you will want to browse Nasa at Home resources for ideas.
Growing fast in popularity among teachers, Nearpod lets you upload lessons you’ve already created in Google Slides or PowerPoint, but it also lets you add interactive and virtual simulations that help draw students in online. Also, Nearpod has a library of interactive lessons, including science, from The First All Woman Space Walk to Biodiversity: Layers of the Rainforest here on Earth, there are many to choose from!
For teachers who were using Mystery Science before March of last year, many continued to use Mystery Science lessons in remote learning. As time passed Mystery Science has done a wonderful job adapting its platform to make the lessons more easy to use when online learning. Like many educational tools, many Mystery Science lessons now include buttons to link up the work directly to Google Classroom or to provide digital versions of their worksheets. The mini-lessons are especially easy to incorporate into an online learning curriculum. From space to bugs to the brain, these fun lessons can be used alone or as a jumping off point to more involved inquiry.
Blue Apple Projects
For the teachers who have embraced remote learning, and who have tackled many hurdles, but are now looking for a resource for teaching science and STEM that will not only be a one-stop-shop, but also an authentic experience, I want to let you know about Blue Apple Projects. In these projects K-8 students interact with each other and the learning in a way that creates investment, involvement, and excitement. Following project based learning principles these projects are engaging, cross-curricular, and enriching for students. Having worked with the Blue Apple educators to create, The DIrty Truth, a project about the fragility of Earth and the possibilities of humans living on Mars, I highly recommend these projects whether you will be continuing in remote learning or returning to school in person. These are the types of projects that students will remember and talk about for years to come.
The Science Penguin
If you’re looking for 15 Free Elementary Science Activities for Educators and Families that you can download and use this week, then visiting The Science Penguin might put a smile on your face. Here you’ll find resources teachers and families can use right away to get kids excited about science and nature. From printable and easy to understand outdoor scavenger hunts to more involved microecosystem observations, there is something for everyone on this list. What really appeals to me about this list was it was created a year ago. Many of us were first sent home, but it is still a great list today.
Spring has always been a time of new growth, and this can apply to your classroom as well as in nature. By taking a chance on innovative ideas, we can break through the doldrums and reignite our students love for learning. So, let’s welcome the spring, and take this opportunity to launch our students into new & educational explorations of science!
Today’s blog post was written by Elena Jinzo, a 5th grade teacher and STEM advocate. You can find her on social media at @elena_SF_CA. Be sure to check out how she engages and empowers students in her project: Blue Apple’s The Dirty Truth.