Posted by David R. Wetzel, Ph.D.
What does it mean to be a successful science or math teacher? The definition of success is an elusive thing and measured in many ways. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines success as – resulting in or gaining a favorable outcome. This, without a doubt, is your and every other teacher’s goal for their students.
Among the many ways of measuring teacher success is the ability to engage students in teaching practices which excite and encourage their natural curiosity for learning. When these best practices are used in the classroom, then all other measures of success follow suite. Thus, providing an indicator you’re a successful science or math teacher.
So what are the three best practices successful science and math teachers’ use in their classroom?
Project Based Learning
Teaching strategies which involve project based learning offer students the potential of gaining deeper insights into science and mathematical concepts. This strategy engages students to use critical thinking processes as they develop and answer their own questions.
This teaching strategy also helps students tap into higher order skills, which allows them to make those all important connections between one science or math concept and other concepts.
Other reasons why students are excited and encouraged by practice:
- answering open-ended questions
- researching the problem
- collecting data
- drawing conclusions based on their findings
- working collaboratively with other students
Real World Problem Solving
Problem solving is the essence of scientific and mathematic investigations. Providing students with real-world problems to solve allows them the opportunity to use investigative processes which stimulate higher order thinking skills.
In science, problem solving relies heavily on the effective use of the science process skills as students complete investigations. Two strategies which support problems solving is the use of discrepant events and experimental design for exciting and engaging students.
In math, making connections within and between concepts is critical to understanding math. Unfortunately students are very good with math concepts when treated separately; however, these same students have difficulties when trying to connect the concepts. One strategy for problem solving is the use of cases studies in mathematics. They encourage connections between concepts, as students rely on and use their prior knowledge and experience in math.
Integrating Technology in Lessons
Using a digital lens stimulates critical thinking skills as students in explore, think, read, write, research, invent, problem solve, and experience the world of science and math. Integrating technology provides them the opportunity to investigate science and math phenomena the same way as scientists and mathematicians.
Digital Media follows the old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words!” when it comes to science and math. The use of digital media is ideal for helping students construct background knowledge for developing a better understanding of science and math concepts.
The following are two examples of best practices for integrating technology in teaching and learning science or math.
- Podcasting – integrating podcasts in science and math classes is a good way to support student learning. This strategy leverages the use of digital devices as a means for mobile learning because students use them everyday – iPods, Smart Phones, computers, etc.
- Online Tools – facilitate input and interaction by students as they use the four skills of the language (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) to investigate, inquire, hypothesize, conjecture, and explain their findings. Online tools offer enormous advantages for science and math teachers, in terms of helping their students learn using Web 2.0 tools.
These are three best practices for instilling curiosity in your students, while encouraging an atmosphere of student centered learning. Ignoring these and other practices which lead to teaching success and student learning risks diminishing, if not losing, the endowment of natural curiosity which all students have when they are born.