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Teaching Science during a Pandemic

This interview was conducted during the 2020-2021 winter break.

How is teaching science to third and fourth graders through a screen?

I gave my students a survey to let me know what's up. And I was like, is this working for you? Are you interested? What do you actually want to be learning about? I got a lot of feedback from them saying this is where the social time comes in.

They thought science is really fun and interesting, but they miss their friends and they don't have time for recess. They don't have fun time to socialize during lunch. They don't get a lot of time during their math and reading classes to be able to talk to each other really even, and it's like people talking to them.

And I think that's a product of like other people panicking and wanting kids to not lose a year of education kind of thing, which I have thoughts on. But I think for the sake of this conversation, the live sessions have actually become a lot more manageable because I quit the scope and sequence and just listened to their feedback and we just play games now.

And that's what we do. I will create Kahoots! and I'll create other kinds of quizzes and we'll just play family feud style. We split the group up in half. You can chat it in real quick or you can unmute yourself–if you think you can get it first– or raise your hand and I'll unmute you and you have 30 seconds to answer “what is the definition of electricity?”

And so I'll embed some of the science content into our games. Every game is science-based, but they want to learn about space and volcanoes and animals. And so that's what I teach now. I just teach what they want to learn about cause they're not even getting a grade on science and I'm like if this isn't gonna impact your grades longterm, why make this miserable for you?

So we just put it aside for now and we just use it as social time, more than anything else. That's like science-based social time and I've gotten a lot of feedback from them that they love it. I've gotten a lot more attendance and a lot more feedback from parents that it's actually fun for their students and parents join and other kids that I've taught in the past, siblings that are younger. I'm just like, “Hey, you're in the back. Come on, do you want something to do? Come learn with us, come play this game.” And I think that seems like what they need right now, that building of community.

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