Navigating the 7-10 Science classroom as a pre-service teacher

Navigating the 7-10 Science classroom as a pre-service teacher

Bez Tran - School Success Manager, and Stacey Martin - Lead author of Year 7 - 10 Science

Excitement. Nervousness. Apprehension. These might be some of the whirlwind emotions you might feel as a pre-service teacher stepping into the teaching world. It’s a pivotal moment where pedagogy meets practice, and you transition from being a student to an entrusted educator. 

Teaching is a journey, and these are some insights I wish I had at the start of that journey.

Classroom observations

It's a big statement, but my best teaching practices came from classroom observations. Don’t shy away from them, whether you’re being observed or observing other teachers. Although the subject and year level may differ from your teaching load, it will help diversify your pedagogy and behaviour management.

Spark curiosity through what they already know

Prior knowledge is what a learner knows before they learn new information. Accessing prior knowledge provides a framework to help students build new knowledge on what they already know. It also provides you with feedback on what students know, misconceptions, and how to adapt your teaching for that topic. 

Here are some ways to access students' prior knowledge:

Alphabet brainstorm - Before starting a new topic, ask students to brainstorm everything they know about it. You can provide them with a printed or online brainstorming grid containing each alphabet letter. To support students with this task, ensure the topic is broad enough for the prompt. Students can work independently for the first 2 minutes to brainstorm and then pair up or get into small groups to compare their grids.

See, think, wonder - Provide students with an image/s or a short video. They then write down what they can observe from the image or video (colours, people, description of what is happening). Next, students write down what they think is going on. This can include something else they are reminded of when viewing the image/video, where they might have seen this before, and why they think what is going on. Finally, students write any questions about the image or video.

Questioning using everyday inspiration - With Science in particular, you can draw inspiration from everyday scenarios to challenge student’s thinking. For example, why is it that when we boil water, does the pot get wet on the outside? Where does that water come from? These questions are at the start of every lesson slide on Edrolo. They also include teacher notes to assist with driving the class discussion – super helpful if you’re not feeling confident about a particular topic!

Example of a “What do we know?” activity on the topic of Energy

Zooming in and out

Teachers often forget what it's like to be a beginner! Zooming in and out allows us and our students to understand which scale we are working in for different lessons—especially as we move from the microscopic to the macroscopic. For example, in one lesson, you could discuss tiny molecules and small cells, and in another, you could discuss large planets. 

You may find that your students can label parts of the cell in pictures without any trouble (or with some assistance). But if you were to ask them, “Where could you find a cell?” They might struggle to answer. This is because they haven’t connected their learning to their larger picture—in this case, how a cell they have labelled relates to the whole organism. Showing students representations of models, and ensuring we’re clear about the different scales helps students to understand the abstract theory and make connections to the concrete world around them.

What are some simple ways you can help students zoom in and out of scientific ideas? Provide students with a scale - providing students with an infographic scale such as the one below helps students move between the molecular, microscopic and macroscopic.

Example of a lesson slide that provides a scale for discussing cells

Example of a lesson slide that provides a scale for discussing atoms

Incorporate science inquiry skills throughout each topic

More and more student assessments are moving from scientific understanding to scientific skills. Scientific skills provide students the framework to apply their knowledge to unfamiliar situations.

Skill slides - Explicitly teach students the science skills or provide a reference point if they get stuck. The Edrolo skill slides show students how to perform a specific skill and have been mapped out to the science skills in Years 7-10. They are helpful for students and teachers to revisit throughout the year to refresh their knowledge of the skill.

Exam-style questions - Consistent exposure to exam-style questions allows junior students to develop the exam technique and skills to support their success in Senior Science. Our question sets contain theory review questions with low-floor entry points. They also contain questions with skills in context where a stimulus is provided in the context of the topic with a mix of Scientific Understanding and Scientific Inquiry skills ordered in complexity. All questions have fully worked exemplars with checklists to explicitly model to students how to unpack and answer the question.

Pracs - Science practicals not only allow students to get their hands dirty (in a safe and non-harmful way) but also pique their curiosity and scaffold their inquiry and critical thinking skills. The Edrolo 7-10 practicals have ‘before you start’ questions to ensure students understand the practical before conducting it. Practical writing is also scaffolded within a chapter, meaning students can build practical writing skills throughout a topic.some text

Hot tip! Run through the prac on your own before you run it with the class. It will help you identify steps where students need further clarification or make mistakes and assist with timing. You can then clarify those steps and explicitly model the procedures confidently to your students before they start.

For more information about our 7-10 Science resources click here.

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