Nature of Instructional
proposed for all students in Mr. Clemens' Science Classes
Educator: Jerry Clemens
kids are struggling to change their ideas, that is a very different looking
classroom than one in which kids are memorizing formulas or vocabulary. Because
the process of changing your ideas means that you have to build up and defend
your prior notions first.
So kids get very concerned with their ideas and are willing to battle for their ideas."
–Professor Philip M. Sadler, Harvard University
types of lessons:
1. the lesson that was created.
2. The lesson that was taught.
3. The lesson that the students actually walked away with.
can be confusing, however I wish to do my
best to explain my Instructional methods.
in my classes are geared toward building students' base of knowledge and develop an understanding through
practices such as experiential learning, problem solving, inquiry,
and investigation. Courses are designed to introduce, enrich and expand student's
knowledge to concepts, facts, processes, ideas and discoveries in science. Humanistic and experiential approaches to learning are
incorporated integrating a
wide variety of pedagogical learning tools, methods, and strategies.
Incorporating students' prior knowledge, called
constructivism, these include but are not limited to:
experimentation, systematic observation, reflective writing, discussion,
interaction, design and re-design of scientific investigations, lab
interpretations and inferences, demonstrations, investigations, and construction of
scientific models. Students will have
opportunities to conduct scientific inquiries and investigations, participate in content related
simulations, and conduct problem based explorations. Content is designed to
improve processing, comprehension, problem solving, critical thinking and decision making skills
Technology is utilized in the classroom where it is most appropriate and
beneficial to learning. For more information, see
"Myths about Inquiry Based Learning" and/or
Authentic Assessment: In my science classes there are
no multiple-choice tests
or quizzes based upon rote memorization. The use of multiple choice and
true-false type assessments call for no more than an identification of a pattern
(this choice sounds more familiar than that choice). Understanding the pattern
is not accounted for with multiple choice or true-false questions. Knowing and
understanding how to
use the subject content of information is well beyond the scope of the multiple choice or
true-false test. Long term memory of how to apply and use the information it isn't even an issue.
"Too often children are given answers to remember rather than problems to
solve." -Robert Lewin
assessment for knowledge and comprehension of subject matter, in my
classes these exams often take on a practical format. Many are much like a lab
activity where students demonstrate their comprehension of subject matter. Science tests, quizzes, and assignments are designed to
provide opportunities for students to illustrate and apply their knowledge and
understanding in a constructivist ,
performance based, and/or
problem based format.
Formative Assessments of students understanding and
application of class material provide continuity from the beginning of a
unit until the end. In this way, there are less students not following along
with the subject matter. Formative assessments
take on many forms including; "Sci-Primers", "Sci-Logs", labs and
activities. Student's personal work is held in a portfolio until the end of the
quarter. It is then reviewed with a "Port-Log" to identify areas where students
excelled and where they could find areas of improvement. With continuous
reflection upon their work, instead of simply accepting the grade given,
students find they often make the same mistakes as well as recall what they did
that assisted in their success. This realization and reflection helps them
to make adjustments when working on future assignments.
Summative Assessments are often
conducted in the form of a test practical such as lab identifications,
demonstrations, interpretations, inferences, projects, presentations,
simulations, and/or construction of scientific models. Students are
assessed by their capability to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding.
learning is any assessment for which the first priority in its design and
practice is to serve the purpose of promoting pupil’s learning.
It thus differs from assessment designed primarily to serve the purposes of
accountability, or of ranking, or of certifying competence."
–Paul Black and Christine Harrison, Assessment for Learning in the Science Classroom
Reading Strategies. Reading is involved in instruction and
a variety of reading strategies are incorporated. Centered
around concept mapping, these applied strategies include but are not limited to:
"SeRph RiTE 21", "Ok4R";
Bulb"; "Text Map"
organizational and analogical charts,
graphic organizers and more. Most reading
and research is from outside sources as the nature of science is ever changing
in discovery and exploration. The
Reports are an example of a tool that engages students in current science activities
outside the classroom. Please review the "Secrets to Success" section on the
home page. See the
Essential Graphic Organizers web page for downloadable material.
applications of Science, Technology, and Society (STS) issues such as human
impact upon the environment, human cultures, and planet Earth will be stressed.
Objectives may vary in accordance with current issues, topics and events.
Science Units will be incorporated throughout the year and may include topics
such as Brain Science, Meteoritical and Astronomical Sciences, Paleontology and
Brain Incorporated Teaching is an approach in teaching encourages educators to consider the way the brain works when making educational decisions. The brain is intimately involved in and connected with everything we do physically and academically. Brain based learning is a way of learning in accordance with the way the brain is naturally designed to learn. A brain based approach encourages us to consider the way the brain works when making educational decisions. “Brain-based education can be understood in just three words: engagement, strategies, and principles. Brain-based education is the engagement of strategies based on principles derived from an understanding of the brain.” –Eric Jensen By using what is known about how the brain learns we can reach more learners with greater success. Simply put, this is Learning with the Brain in Mind. For more information, see my website on Brain Incorporated Learning
knowledge and understanding incorporated with real life skills is a priority in
Most labs and activities are not from the text booklets or "cook book"
I have many "in the field" experiences in
science, labs and activities, models and materials are mostly self
developed and constructed. Since the age of 12, I have collected
artifacts which are incorporated in
class instruction. Real-life experiences from exposure to
the actual objects and artifacts of study and real life applications
of content cannot be assessed or evaluated with any standardized
These applied experiences may also entice students into further study
and exploration into the vast and ever changing interdisciplinary fields of
"Homework" ( often called
"Homethrills" or "Enrichment"
) is an extension of the current content or an enrichment experience. Like
teachers, modern students want to know how what they learn is going to help
is not busy work, or looking up information. Homework should be created, not
copied, and designed to motivate students to complete them because it is not
based upon grade alone, but on real-life scenarios and applications that make
the task meaningful and relevant to learning. Homework is often problem based
that require critical thinking and analysis. Most homework assignments are given
two days to accomplish, this provides more time for the student to see the
teacher about the assignment and correct misconceptions and incomplete
This is not your old science class! The Childhood Environment is much different today than it was just 5-10 years ago! Old school science class involved students reading aloud from texts, all content was presented in lecture format (using the latest technology, the overhead projector!). Most tests required rote memory recall where we spent the prior night memorizing long lists to be regurgitated on the next day's test and forgotten two weeks later. Back then, lab experiences that merely confirmed what students had been read or told in lecture, and the main goal of assessment was to provide a grade. Today's Themes of Science Education are quite different than it was "back in the day." Often used for structure of a scientific experiment, the process is step by step where the outcome is predetermined and there is no room for failure. This is not how real scientific investigations and explorations work. Exclusive use of the scientific method in the science classroom was discouraged by the National Research Council in their National Science Education Standards in 1996), etc.. See also: Myth of The Scientific Method; The Scientific Method, and A Word About the Scientific Method
Today, teaching is much different than it was "back then". The way students learn is constantly changing as students have become much more intelligent and self directed. For more information on the topic of today's youth, I suggest finding applicable materials at: Teaching & Parenting with Love & Logic. In today's information age, the way students learn is in a constant state of change. Students have a very difficult time transitioning from a high tech interactive environment from home where they have daily open access to laptops, the internet, iPods, iTouch, iPads, computer games, Wii, Xbox, cell phone texting, etc. to a classroom where none of those technologies are available and most things are stationary and non-moving in nature. Consider news casts from 20 years ago, it was unconscionable to have moving graphics behind the anchor, today, there is constant interaction, pop ups, ticker lines, photos, etc.
Teaching and instruction must be responsive to these changes. Consider the following charts.
|Active Student Learning||Teacher Centered Learning|
|Participating in inquiry investigations.||Lectures & demonstrations.|
Writing to learn, preparing and giving presentations,
group discussions, skilled reading of current events.
Finding practical applications to information.
|Assigned readings without purpose.|
Finding applications that aid in subsequent learning.
|Answering questions and problems that advance students' information base.|
Performing investigative or inquiry lab activities.
Using science knowledge to solve real problems.
|Assigned hands on activities and cookbook laboratory activities.|
Assessing performances of understanding and
capability to apply science knowledge.
Testing for rote memory recall of facts and concepts.
Assessment of correct or incorrect responses.
|From: Gallagher, James 2006. Teaching Science for Understanding. Pearson-Prentice Hall Publication.|
Science is an
opportunity of learning how to learn. Science is a theme for learning, just like
math, language arts, social studies, are themes for learning how to learn.
Although early influences are powerful, the
goal in educating adolescents is teaching them methods of learning how to learn,
not to to entice them to become scientists, mathematicians, writers, or
historians. Learning how to learn will open the doors of opportunities in any
subject they wish to pursue later in life.
teaching and instruction evolve daily. Each assignment, lab, activity,
assessment, methods, and strategy is under constant revision to keep up with the
way today's students learn. No one method works for every student. This is why
understanding about learning styles is ultimately important. Unfortunately
in classrooms of 25-30 students each with their own set of learning styles, 41
minute class periods, budget limitations, and many other factors in the
classroom do have an effect on utilizing
best practices in teaching.
I try my best to teach each and every student in the classroom constantly
adjusting my daily lesson plans in accordance with student achievement making
every effort to go "a mile wide AND a mile deep." It is helpful
to keep in mind that he
Childhood Environment is much different today
and we are
preparing students for a future in which there will be careers that haven't been
invented yet. See: Our Student's Future
Vesting. Learning has
no guarantee. Students cannot be forced to learn, only encouraged.
Teachers provide opportunities to learn. This is where it is important to
utilize the latest skills, methods,
and best practices that are designed to entice as many students into learning as
possible. In addition, students having a vested interest is the goal. Without
complex learning is difficult. Motivation is intrinsic, and in the right
setting with the right elements, it can happen. Coupled with vesting, in 1999
Edward Deci promoted the SDT theory; a
Self Determination Theory An Approach to Human Motivation and
SDT helps explain much about intrinsic motivation and
internal validation including Emotions, Assets and Direction. Encouragement comes in many forms, but must be individual
and intrinsic in nature. See
Rewards & Praise and
Brain Diet &
parental involvement and interest in their child's education is the foundation
for their learning structure. Without a parent's support, chances of student achievement are
greatly reduced. When a parent has admitted their child in middle school,
they often assume they are not to be
involved in their child's education in middle school. This is a misinterpretation
and/or misunderstanding! As adolescents, middle school
students need to gradually learn how to uphold their own responsibilities in
their education, this
is true. This does not, however, mean that parents should not be involved or
disinterested in the business of their child's education or what the teachers
are teaching! Adolescents often tell parents to give them some
distance, however, they are not asking parents to be uninvolved in their
education or their lives! When parents express interest in what is happening in
the classroom and with their child's education, the student achievement and success is greatly
increased. Case in point; an overwhelming majority of parents who attend
parent/teacher conferences are parents of high achieving students. Why? Because these parents stay involved
in the education process and the student realizes it is
important to them. As a result their academic effort is increased.
inexorable, but knowledge results in achievement, and achievement opens
opportunities to a successful future.
Classroom direct phone number is (847) 719-3832
Communication via electronic mail is time efficient. My e-mail address is: Jerry.Clemens@LZ95.org
I arrive at school prior to 6:15am and am available throughout the day until about 3:30 provided I am not in class or in a meeting.
Zen and the Art of Teaching Science
National Science Teachers Association Position Statement on Science Education for Middle Level Students
National Science Teacher Association Position Statement on Parent Involvement
National Science Teacher Association Position Statement on Assessment
National Science Teacher Association Position Statements all issues
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Page Creator & Updater:: Mr. Clemens
Webmaster: Mr. Platt
Originally Created: October, 2004
Last Updated: March, 2011