Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The New Teacher's Toolbox: March 2014, Tips for Teachers Just Starting Out

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

The New Teacher's Toolbox: March 2014, Tips for Teachers Just Starting Out

Article excerpt

"Why Do We Have to Know This?"

As a new teacher, you face new challenges each school day. While some challenges will subside as you grow into the profession, one that always remains is making content relevant. You'll constantly face students who ask why they need to know certain things. This question surfaces more frequently when the concepts involved are difficult. For ex-ample, why know the steps of photosynthesis? When will I ever need to balance a chemical equation? or classify rocks? Here are some strategies for making connections to your curriculum that will help address such questions.

Know your audience

Never forget that you're teaching teen-agers. How might your lesson relate to their adolescent lives? Food is certainly popular among teens. Tie food and nutrition to science topics ranging from biomolecules and human anatomy to thermochemistry. Use sports and cars to help teach the laws of motion and be sure to include topics that will interest both girls and boys. Relate your geographical area or local culture to the topics you're teaching. For example, research area nuclear power plants or polluted waterways to help you teach Earth science, environmental science, or chemistry. From a cultural perspective, see if students can research their own family trees to help you teach blood typing, human genetics, or pedigrees. Do any students have a saltwater aquarium at home? If so, your osmosis lesson is off to a great start.

Know your applications

Science also plays a major role in many common experiences that much of our society shares; you can prepare your students for many real-world experiences while applying your content to these situations. Teaching the gas laws during the cold New England winter is an excellent opportunity for me to discuss low tire pressure warnings and the snow-making process on local ski slopes. A discussion of potholes on our wintry roads relates to ice wedging and physical weathering in Earth science. One of my physics colleagues related her lessons to the physics behind the events at the recent winter Olympics. Apply topics from the textbook to the real world, and your students will connect more meaningfully to the material. …

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