Moving with the Flow of Science
By Christina Miramontes
Does your daily quarantine routine have you sitting around the house or empty workplace feeling like you need to move? Are you wondering what your students are doing right now and wish you could do something to help? Think about this: How often do we try to explain something, and realize we enhance communication with facial expressions and body language to get the full impact? Do you ever use gestures and movement to help when teaching, because the Charlie Brown blank stares are a warning sign that you’re losing your audience? But wait, there’s more! What if I told you that this could be a way for students to express their understanding in science? What if there was the added bonus that with these simple tools, students can share their science learning in-person or digitally? Here are several examples of ways students are able to get moving while learning science.
Get moving! At every grade, there are phenomena that can be enhanced by movement at home or in the classroom. Not only are kids naturally curious about the world around them, they revel at the chance to get their hands dirty in a science investigation or activity, and then share that in their own way. Set up a phenomenon for them to experience that they can interpret physically. This will support student learning through a more creative expression and physical modality. (IE: Re-enacting with their classmates or family how energy is transferred and matter moved in a food web, or they can show physically how circuits work by linking together, or even put on an interpretive dance of the life cycle of a butterfly or plant.) Other examples are to use your physical sciences to elicit actual physical results students can collect data on: For example, running in place to take heart beat, pulse, and check body systems over time. Also, students can model pushes and pulls through exercise and play, then recreate this as a tutorial for the structure and function within systems. Again, not only could this be seen as a bridge for equity among learners, it gets them moving and experiencing their environment around them, without even leaving the house (or classroom)!
Hit record, share, and upload! A short rehearsal to practice, and students take their video of their science phenomenon and upload it.. Many educational formats that offer appropriate options for classroom collaboration are available, which can then be taken to the next level of topics for engaging collaborative conversations with the class. This can be done with a whole group in-person or in a virtual setting. The bonus of using this medium is that it promotes a way for students to draw content-rich models with written explanations of the phenomenon. Students will have ownership of the content driving the student learning, and a way to express themselves within the privacy and safety of their own setting.
Science- it’s a whole body experience. Too many times we leave movement out of lessons, when the movement itself can be the lesson. Even with the buzz of events around us and wondering how we can get content “to kids,” we need to have awareness of how a student's perception of a concept can guide a lesson/concept “for kids” and “by kids.” This is the goal of real learning. So, plan some science movement into your day, and see where it takes you and your students. Looking forward, you will be building a new routine that will be available as a tool whenever you need it again.
Christina Miramontes is CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative Core Lead Teacher and 6th grade science teacher. She is a current member of CSTA.