Preparing Your Classroom Part Four (Social Studies, Science, and Morning Meeting)
Remember to keep science and social studies fun. This is your students’ chance to learn about the world around them. It should be interesting - not dry!
Different states have very different standards for science and social studies. You will need to get the scope and sequences for these subjects from your school. Once you know what you will be teaching, you can collect resources. I would recommend doing something active at least once a week. In science that could mean performing an experiment, and in social studies you can set up simulations and experiments for your students.
The other day of the week could be spent watching a relevant and engaging video or working on a group project such as a poster. Think of science and social studies as a chance for students to apply what they are learning in math, reading, and writing. Students can make graphs, write books, and read research materials while exploring new topics.
If you have reading passages or writing subjects for a science or social studies topic, do your best to incorporate them into your Daily 5 block as described in the last blog post. This will save you time and give students more exposure to the topic.
You will want to create a basic sequence for the entire year of social studies and science. This will help you plan individual units later. Here is an example based on the third grade social studies and science standards in Texas.
Planning for art can be difficult for some teachers. I, personally, have always struggled with art. If you are lucky, you teach at a school that has a separate art class where students are taught by a passionate professional. If not, you can use your science and social studies curriculum to plan your art lessons. Learning about Native Americans? Find an art project based on Chinook art. Learning about the life cycle of the frog? Create a model of the different stages using play dough. Pinterest can definitely be your friend here.
The most important part of your day takes place in the first fifteen minutes. This is where you set the tone for the day. Greet each child as they walk in the door. You don’t need to have a crazy handshake with each of them, but you want your students to know they are each important. It also gives you a chance to assess how they are doing. A grumpy child is not ready to focus on math.
Once the students have arrived and announcements are over, it is time for the morning meeting. I am counting the morning meeting as part of the first fifteen minutes although it probably won’t happen that quickly with attendance, lunch count, and announcements.
One year, I assigned each child a show and tell day once a week. Students didn’t have to bring a show and tell, but they could. I know a lot of teachers think third grade is too old for show and tell, but I love it. Students find commonalities through show and tell. It builds community. It also gives students practice presenting to a group. This is a skill that isn’t practiced enough in most classrooms.
The only thing I would change about my show and tell policy is that I would require students to share at least twice a month. The students who didn’t ever share were the students who needed the most practice. To help struggling students, I even made a fill in the blank script. My students on the spectrum found this tool especially helpful.
You can also use the morning meeting to let students communicate their needs with each other. A student might share that her dog died, so she needs some extra love. Another student might share that he is really excited that his baseball team is going to the championships. This is a chance for your students to share what is important to them. It is an important part of building a strong classroom community. You may have a few students who want to share every day. I always let these kids share because I wanted to encourage them. If you are running short of time, you can have kids let you know if they want to share before morning meeting starts.
The next part in this blog series is all about organization. Learn how you can set up your classroom over the summer to save time during the school year.