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Planning an elementary science unit

To teach a science unit well, you should strive to become a mini-expert on the science topic. It will not be enough to rely solely on the teacher’s manual as you prepare for teaching a science unit. Use several manuals, the Internet, workshops, trade books and colleagues as you prepare your lessons. Here are some tips for preparing a strong unit in science:

  • Collect materials ahead of time and have them easily accessible during your lessons. Stock grocery sacks with equipment for each cooperative group so that students have easy access to materials.

  • Expect the unexpected in a science lesson. Students may make a discovery or steer a science investigation into a deeper level, and when you are prepared, even over-prepared, you will be ready for these serendipitous moments.

  • Know the curriculum for not only your grade, but for the previous and future grades. In this way, as you plan for teaching a unit, you can build on prior knowledge and lay the foundation for future science learning.

  • Plan your lessons with five, six or seven activities that teach the same concept. Different students will respond to and make sense of the learning in different ways, so a variety of activities is needed to meet the learning needs of your students. Students also need to hear things multiple times in order to understand complex concepts. Some suggestions for adding variety to your lessons include: demonstrations, experiments, observations, video, props, news articles, songs and activities.

  • Borrow time from your literacy block by planning reading and writing activities related to your science unit.