Aligning early grades to science standards

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Students in Paula Maupin’s kindergarten class at Washington County Elementary School learn about pushes and pulls as part of a new emphasis on implementing Kentucky's science standards in all grades. During the experiment, students pull crates that are empty, half full and full to see the different amount of force it takes to pull the objects. Submitted photo by Paula Maupin
Students in Paula Maupin’s kindergarten class at Washington County Elementary School learn about pushes and pulls as part of a new emphasis on implementing Kentucky’s science standards in all grades. During the experiment, students pull crates that are empty, half full and full to see the different amount of force it takes to pull the objects.
Submitted photo by Paula Maupin

By Staff

Washington County Elementary School (WCES) staff are moving in a direction that will bring their school into alignment with the Kentucky Academic Standards for Science.

The school began implementing the standards in the 4th grade about three years ago. The transition was not easy.

“It took time to go more in-depth rather than skimming the surface for each lesson,” said Christie Metcalf, a 3rd- and 4th-grade science teacher.

Metcalf had to adapt her teaching style to provide instruction across all three dimensions – Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts. Metcalf’s 3rd-graders planned and carried out investigations during their Force and Motion unit. One of her lessons had students looking at the cause and effect relationship of magnets.

Second-grade teacher Amy Noel began working with her parallel partner, adjusting their pacing guide to the Kentucky Academic Standards for Science beginning in the 2015-16 school year. She taught science daily this year, compared to just two of the nine weeks in the previous school year.

“I try to provide many hands-on investigations that go along with my daily lessons, like making volcanoes, earthquakes and sand dunes. The children really enjoy these engaging activities,” said Noel.

In kindergarten, Paula Maupin introduced the science standards, providing more hands-on activities early in the 2016-17 school year. She tried to spend three to four days per week on science instruction.

“We have spent a lot of time on physical science and the kids have responded to all our activities, especially the push-and-pull activity, where they pulled crates that were empty, half full and full to see the different amount of force it took to pull the objects,” said Maupin.

Christie Metcalf’s 3rd-grade students investigate a marble’s pattern of motion during a science lesson at Washington County Elementary. Submitted photo by Christie Metcalf
Christie Metcalf’s 3rd-grade students investigate a marble’s pattern of motion during a science lesson at Washington County Elementary.
Submitted photo by Christie Metcalf

“All of our teachers have worked this year to delve into the science standards, increasing the instructional time focused on the standards and increasing the opportunities for performance tasks in the classroom,” said Jennifer Miller, principal of WCES.

Now that Noel and the 2nd-grade teachers are teaching science using the new standards, Metcalf said 3rd-grade students have a stronger science foundation.

“It doesn’t feel like I am teaching science from the beginning, but from where the last grade level left off. The students retain key knowledge of vocabulary and skills,” said Metcalf.

Now that the primary teachers have integrated science regularly into their classroom schedules, teachers at Washington County Elementary School anticipate more success with the through-course tasks at each grade level and the state summative test given at the 4th-grade level.

“We are extremely appreciative of the teamwork Mrs. Metcalf, Mrs. Noel and Mrs. Maupin have demonstrated with their support of one other and the sharing of information with our entire faculty at WCES,” Miller said.  

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