Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fieldwork Experiences

During the past week or so, my class has been attending Bishop Dunn Memorial School to attain experience in the field teaching science to 5th grade students. We were all paired individually with a student, and asked to both observe and assist the student throughout our time there. I really enjoyed going to Mrs. Benefer's class, as she is certainly a great science teacher. She involves the students, and uses inquiry/hands-on minds-on activities in her classroom. On the first day, she introduced the topic of mixtures and solutions to the students by physically demonstrating a mixture with pretzels and candies, and pepper in water and a solution by pouring sugar into water. The students appeared to learn more and remain interested when the science concept was made less abstract and more concrete. I also really liked how she used Smart board to quiz her students in a fun, interactive game using the science concepts they were learning in the class. All the students appeared truly attentive and interested in the game, and eager to learn.  

Throughout our time at the school I worked with my 5th grader, Shivan, and he is certainly a very smart boy. Together we explored his textbook, the science concepts in his assigned chapters, questions at the end of the chapters, inquiry activities within the chapters, and a test at the end one last week to assess his knowledge. When building the boat with Shivan, we collaborated nicely together, and he showed me that he was capable of teamwork and challenging questions and tasks. He very nicely initiated the inquiry process: predicting, planning, experimenting, recording, concluding, and analyzing. I have very high expectations for Shivan. 

When we began teaching 5 E (inquiry) lessons to the 5th grade class, it became evident to me how important it is to have directions made clear and explicit during the inquiry lesson. Students need to know what the problem is they are trying to solve and what they need to look for before simply just beginning the investigation. Overall, I see how crucial inquiry lessons are to advancing a classroom's knowledge or science concepts. Students shouldn't just be able to repeat information verbatim that they read in a science textbook-anyone can do that. Students should be challenged and asked to expand upon the knowledge they acquire during the reading of their textbooks. To truly learn a science concept, students need to investigate a problem, look at/investigate a concept from many angles, and be creative while utilizing inquiry and process skills. Applying skills through the utilization of process skills helps students truly learn. 

I will soon post a link to my reflections and pictures of my fieldwork experience. 

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