As an elementary teacher and literacy coach, I do not often think about organizations that seem predominately geared to secondary content teachers. I attended the annual conference for Foreign Language Teachers several years ago as my then school was embarking on starting a Dual Language Immersion Program. Though there were a few sessions for Dual Language Teachers or Elementary teachers of foreign languages, the conference was truly for High School world language teachers. It wasn't until I started following Donalyn Miller and Franki Sibberson on Twitter that I realized that NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) had a robust track for elementary teachers. So, of course, I had never really paid attention to a professional organization for teachers of science. In my mind, they couldn't have anything for me as a multiple subject teacher. However, I was wrong.
Not until they landed on my radar last year with the announcement of the Outstanding Science Trade Books for K-12 winners did NSTA even register in my mind. Fast-forward to this past weekend, when a friend of mine, and former Biology teacher, asked if I knew about the Science & Children journal from NSTA and would I want her copy of it now that she finished reading it.
While hanging out this past weekend, I flipped through the journal and looked at the articles. There were the typical things you expect in most journals: Editor's Note, Call for Papers, In the News, and more. Of course, I was interested in the section called Teaching Through Trade Books, and also the Curriculuar Connections. Now they were speaking my language. And with my background in early childhood education, I was pleased to see a focus on early childhood and science.
I don't know how long NSTA has been creating Science & Children in this format, but it certainly made me take notice. Enough notice that I emailed some colleagues to ask if any of our Elementary STEM schools had school subscriptions.
The journal provides a free articles in each issue. In the Summer 2015 issue, teachers can check out the article called Dig Into Fossils! A Series of Activities Helps Young Students Learn About Fossils.
Three of my favorite lesson ideas from this issue were:
- Smashing Milk Cartons by Debra Monson and Deborah Besser - Third grade students solve a real-world problem using the engineering design process, collaborative group work, and integrated STEM education.
- Eating the Alphabet by Jyoti Gopal - Using a daily morning routine to link science, math, literacy, and social studies in a kindergarten classroom.
- Let's Hear it for Ladybugs! by Leslie Bradbury, Rachel Wilson, and Amy Lunceford - Observing ladybugs offers opportunities to integrate language arts into a life cycle unit.
Note: The cost of purchasing individual articles/lessons is very reasonable at 99 cents per article.
In addition to the lessons that I appreciated, I enjoyed reading the article by Sarah Ferris on Making Talk Productive. Ferris explores how to create more collaborative, in-depth conversations during learning activities.
NSTA provides several levels of membership including individual and institution memberships. For teachers dealing with PreK to 2nd grade, there is even a blog thread with a focus on early education. If you are looking for additional ways to integrate science into your classroom and also in connecting literacy and science, you may want to explore what NSTA has to offer.
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