Before we begin teaching a unit of work, our students already have existing views of the world around them.
It is our job as teachers to change their beliefs/ideas about something through investigations, research, information and new experiences which provide new information that proves previous beliefs to be incorrect.
Units of work should begin with what the students currently believe to be true.
It’s a good idea to dedicate a part of the classroom to the science unit where you can put up a mind map or student drawings of their current beliefs. These can be referred to throughout the unit in order to assist the students to change their beliefs.
It is not enough to simply present the evidence to students. They may still not believe or change their beliefs.
The below you tube video demonstrates the importance of understanding and addressing your students’ misconceptions:
If the students’ thinking isn’t taken into account, learning doesn’t occur and explanations fail.
Students may listen and pay attention; however they may construe the knowledge in different ways that were intended, just like in the you tube clip.
Students will learn if they can find their own path. Use questions to help them move onto the next step. Provide hints when necessary (foster curiosity) and if they are not helping, allow others to demonstrate. Make it fun and allow the students to investigate and create their own learning.
The following activity may be used to challenge misconceptions:
- Fold a piece of paper in half
- Ask the students a question and the students are to write their answer to the question inside
- The students are to then perform an experiment/activity and compare their answers
At the end of the unit:
- Create a mind map or student drawings of their current understandings and compare them to the mind map/drawings created in the beginning of the unit (great for parent interviews and post tests)
- Provide students with project ideas if they want to continue researching the topic
- Ask the students what else they would like to know that wasn’t covered in the unit or what questions the unit has brought up for them
It is also important to ensure that you are not passing on your misconceptions on to your students.
Here is a great list of misconceptions in science: http://www.amasci.com/miscon/opphys.html
What advice do you have regarding science in the classroom?
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