In middle and high school science we need to keep our students interested, engaged and active. All too often we can fall into the pattern of talking for too much of a class and not allowing time for synthesis and hands on activity. This is especially true of this time of year when we approach the time when the end of the year is in sight. We know we have a lot to cover and the instinct is to push through the material. But is this really quality?
#1 – Teach the minimum
When you are pressed for time you shouldn’t deviate from the required elements. Choose those topics that are vital and part of the standards and curriculum – and work out from there. Add elaboration or extras after all of the required core material is accounted for.
#2 Stick to your plan
This sounds like such a basic mantra, but it is very easy to stray off the path. The plan you have made is essential to getting through your required elements in the curriculum. Do not deviate.
#3 Fall back on curriculum maps
If your school has a curriculum mapping program – ask to see them. How did prior teachers manage their pace and scope in order to complete the course. Curriculum maps that are well put together also show pacing and even have materials.
#4 Be open to advice
Perhaps a co-teaching colleague or department head has an idea. You don’t always have to agree with advice but it is always good to listen. Sometimes a fresh opinion can open up new highways to teaching.
#5 Be prepared to make cuts
There may be some really fun things you had planned…or even a field trip that must be cancelled or modified. If there has been a bad year for snow days or there have been reasons why you are behind it sometimes means we have to cut out some things for a year to ensure a complete course.
#6 Be creative
Perhaps all the biomes can be covered with presentations. Are podcasts off the table? Use media and other means to try to bridge gaps whenever possible. A project can fulfill information as well as traditional teaching methods. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box!