When I first found out that I would be teaching grade 8 Science I was given the binder which had all the teacher notes, overhead transparencies, assignments, quizzes and exams for the year. I was encouraged to teach the same way my co-workers did and we all had to use the same quizzes and exams.
In the past few years I have become much more knowledgeable about grade 8 Science and I really enjoy teaching it. I have amassed my own resources, presentations, movie clips and assignments, and created a website where I post resources for my students. I have successfully moved my classes to more hands-on inquiry based activities and labs and away from lectures and worksheets. I am now allowed to create quizzes and tests that echo the emphasis I place on the outcomes. I would love to move completely to the flipped classroom model, but many of my students are not willing to put in the time to prepare outside of class. Even though I have made a lot of changes, I was still pretty tied to covering things in the topic groupings as they are outlined in the textbook. I have a week to cover each topic. I would love to have more time for some topics but that is all the time there is in the schedule.
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. With the schedule changes and missed classes I only have one month to cover the Water unit and still have enough time for the final unit and year end review. There are six topics to cover, so I don’t have a week to cover each topic. I was pretty apprehensive at first. How could I cover all of the topics in just four weeks when a topic a week seems rushed? Then I looked at the unit in a different way. I ignored the topics from the textbook and broke the outcomes down into four different areas and each with one or two essential questions. It worked out pretty well. I am going to be able to cover all of the outcomes with assignments and activities that I think the students will find interesting and engaging and I have gotten rid of many assignments and assessments that aren’t really necessary. It’s a little nerve wracking because I am not using most of the resources that I usually use and I am moving away from my zone of comfort, but I think it is going to work out well. This might be the best Water unit I have ever taught.
Our subject this first week is Where does Water Come From? Last class we did a lab about water distribution that has some great hands-on practice making pie charts and comparing different methods of presenting the same data. Tomorrow we celebrate World Water Day and Canada Water Week by doing some research about water, how it is used and who has access to it as well as how it is tested and cleaned. I am really looking forward to it.