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3 Pain-Free Planning Tips for Science Teachers

3 Pain-Free Summer Planning Tips for Science Teachers

June 27, 2021

Summer is finally here! After the exhausting year that you have had, you need as much relaxation as you can get. If you are a science teacher and you are planning to spend some time prepping this summer, here are things to focus on. Check out these 3 pain-free summer planning tips for science teachers.

Why should science teachers prep during the summer?

Don't worry! We aren't saying that you have to spend any time this summer prepping. In fact, if you want to skip this episode altogether, that's fine with us.

But, some teachers feel better spending a little bit of time prepping. If you are up to it and you have a strong game plan, summer prep leads to less stress in the fall when you return to school.

Tip #1: Take a Birds-Eye View of Your Course Structure

Consider the order in which you teach your content. We don't want you to think about your full scope-and-sequence. Instead, think about how you construct your course.

Nicole recommends thinking of the major topics that you want to cover. These might be tied to a specific standard or a broader idea.

Assess What Worked – And What Didn't

It's also important to think about what worked well and what didn't connect with your students. As you are listing your major topics, make some notes. Then, you can list the areas that you need to focus on next school year.

Is any content seasonal?

It's a good idea to think about WHEN topics will be the most relevant to your students. Then, use this to adjust your overall course sequence.

For example, some activities work better outdoors. Create a tentative schedule that considers when the weather will be best for these activities.

Also, the winter is a great time to cover topics related to space such as the Earth-Moon-Sun System. Because it gets dark earlier, your students are more likely to see the phases of the moon.

Tip #2: Start noticing phenomena.

Phenomena are a vital component of NGSS aligned instructional sequence. However, it is difficult to think of phenomena when you have the added pressure of teaching each day. Therefore, the summer is a great time to start a list of potential phenomena for your course.

Journal, Journal, Journal

We love a good notebook. Grab a notebook that is just for phenomena. As you think of phenomena, list them in your notebook. Then you have a good starting spot when you are ready to plan your school year in more detail.

woman sitting outside with journal 
text: Start a

Get more help with phenomena.

Nicole observed that many teachers struggle with finding an anchoring phenomenon for their students. In fact, it is one of the most difficult tasks for teachers. As a result, she built a program to help teachers with this process.

Nicole's Spark Subscription includes anchoring phenomena and associated standards.

Tip #3 Look for Sticking Points in Your School Year

It's difficult to take a bird's eye view of your school year when you are in the middle of it. But, summer is a great time for reflection.

Here are a few things to ask yourself:

  • How was your classroom culture? What things worked? What could have gone better?
  • How was your classroom set up? How did this work?
  • What things would you like to change about the way your class runs next school year?

Jot down some thoughts that you can review as you get closer to the start of the school year.

Take this a step farther.

Erin noticed that many teachers wanted to make changes in the way that they conduct labs in their classroom. Most said they wanted to implement a student driven-approach. So, Erin create a course to help them do just that.

The Student-Driven Investigations Course will be running a few times a year, including one time at the end of the summer. To get on the waitlist, click the button below.

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