Marcia's Science Teaching Ideas
Marcia's Science Teaching Ideas
Advice for the New Teacher by MJ Krech
Almost everything "they" should have taught you in college!
I want you to know that I started out this year taking all of your advice (teaching procedures, picking up papers, etc.)
and everything has gone more smoothly than it has in my 8 years of teaching.   --Email from a teacher in Georgia
You are welcome to use these ideas in your classroom, within your science department, within your school district, or to distribute to any teacher who may find these lessons useful. I only ask that:
1. You cannot sell these lessons or make a profit on them in any way.
2. You cite the lessons original source, and do not white-out the copyright footer on the pdf files
3. Do not copy and paste lessons onto your website. A link to the original is to be used.
4. Do not claim these lessons as your own work.
NOTE: This disclaimer is modeled after a couple of my favorite websites: The Science Spot and Middle School Science. Thanks, teachers!


This comes from my heart.  And over thirty years of teaching experience. As a new teacher, you need to understand that discipline problems are NOT related to how well you can discipline, but to HOW WELL YOU MANAGE THE CLASSROOM! HOW WELL YOU TRAIN YOUR STUDENTS TO FOLLOW BASIC CLASSROOM ROUTINES!

Train your students from the very first minute of the very first class period! I train mine to walk in quietly, pick up the papers near the door on the Pick-Up Table, sit down, and quietly begin the Bellwork. IF THEY DON'T, I politely ask them to go back to the door and try again. In severe cases, I don't allow them to come in the room at all on the first day of school, but make them sit on a chair outside the door of my classroom. I have routines for just about EVERYTHING. And I consistently re-train my students if they "forget." ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THIS!! NOT EVEN YOUR ACTUAL SUBJECT MATERIAL!!!

I trained my student teachers to use this approach and they have had NONE of the usual first year teacher troubles with discipline. They couldn't understand why other new teachers in the building were having problems, and were grateful they knew what to do!

Click here for a BIG file of the actual images I use as I train my students. Click here for the page I give my students.

Read my Teacher Tutorial on this Topic!


on how to do just what I've talked about here!
TEXTBOOKS: It doesn't matter what textbook you have! You don't need to use it much. In fact, I've taught Science many years with NO textbook at all! Just use it for definitions and major concepts and the order of your units. DON'T hand out the first couple weeks. You want your students to associate science with labs and activities, not books. And DON"T make your students read outloud! There are so many better ways to introduce and reinforce material!
Read my Teacher Tutorial on this topic!
SEATING CHARTS: You need one for the first day. The best I've ever seen has little picture tiles that stick to a sketch of the room. Great way to effortlessly learn names. Photocopy last year's yearbook photos. Laminate and cut out. Add names and use sticky tack or repositionable double-sided tape for scrapbooking to affix to seating chart. Click here.

Read my Teacher Tutorial on this topic!

CLASSROOM RULES: The SECRET is the students already know the rules! They just want to know if YOU know them! And if YOU care if they follow them or not and if YOU will enforce them. Make an 8x11 sign for each rule with graphics and post in classroom. More than five or six is not necessary.There should ALWAYS be consequences for breaking rules! HAVE SOME!
Read my Teacher Tutorial on this topic!
CLASSROOM RULES AND PROCEDURES: Read this Teacher Tutorial and Know the Difference!

YELLOW LEGAL PAD: Write out every lesson for every day. Plan more than you think you need for each day. Make notes in red on what works and what doesn't to refer to next year. Keep them in a folder forever.

BELLWORK: Always start every day with a short, quick bellringer! Make them up a week at a time and have projection copies made ahead of time, including answers. Click here. Hand out the week's Bells on Monday.

A BIG SECRET: Kids appreciate a routine they can count on. Every day can be different but the routine is the same.
FIRST DAY PROCEDURE: Teach this first! "Enter room quietly. Pick up papers. Sit down. Number pages. Put in notebook. Copy Homework on Homework Page. Do Bell on Bellwork Page. Take out Homework that's due today."
How to teach: Stand at door. Welcome students as they enter. Motion towards Pick-Up Table. Tell them to pick up papers, find their photo on class seating chart on podium, sit down, copy homework on homework page and begin bellwork on bell page.
Read my Teacher Tutorial on this Topic!
NOTEBOOK ORDER: Make up ahead of time. You may need to make changes, but that's okay! Hand out on Mondays. Make a transparency (Project on a SmartBoard) to make corrections during the week.

NOTEBOOK DAY: I hand out bright fushia pink run off papers for the first table of contents of the Front Section. Place to write their name. Then other colors for Study Guide Section, Worksheet Section, Lab Section, and Project Section.

On NOTEBOOK DAY, I put up transparency of each Table of Contents and they copy onto their colored TOC pages. Some kids are so efficient, they do this on their own using the Notebook Order pages I hand out weekly. Reward these kids with a piece of candy on NOTEBOOK DAY. <smile!>
Email me for a FREE Audio Podcast on how to set up Science Notebooks.
HOMEWORK: Give it every day! Doesn't have to be much, in fact, it should mostly be small assignments. The trick is to provide classroom time every day for at least partial completion of homework.  Best practice: Provide a handout for recording homework. Collect on Friday and give ten points. Parents like this!

Click here for Homework Page Template.
FIRST DAY NEWSLETTER: Create a front/back newsletter for the first day. Hand it out at the door while the students enter the room, find their seat, and sit down. Put up a transparency with 3 or 4 questions about the newsletter. They should all be working on this when the bell rings. Take roll using your seating chart, then put up an answer transparency. Refer to the newsletter as you proceed to introduce yourself and the course. SET UP TEAMS: Six or seven teams work best for me now. The best teams have fewer members, thus more involvement. Pick them randomly the first time and then divide with some of each ability level in each team. Keep track so you mix up each time. Run a team competition for about two weeks, then give prizes to the winning team and start over with new teams.
Click here for details and many examples.
PICK-UP TABLE: Put a table by your door. Train students to pick up their own papers as they enter the room. Saves you lots of time. COLORED CHALK: Buy a big box of sidewalk chalk. Much better than the skinny stuff they give you!
SCIENCE NOTEBOOKS: Having a Science Notebook is essential! Teaches organization and responsibility.
Email me for a FREE Podcast on how to use Science Notebooks. Email me for a FREE Audio Podcast on how to set up Science Notebooks.
FRIDAY QUIZZES: Kids stay on their toes when they know they will be quizzed over the week's material every Friday. Make it 25 points or less, if your Big Tests are 100 points. Remind them that the quiz points of the quarter/term/grading period add up to a Big Test grade. THE SCHOOL SECRETARY: This lady runs the school! Make friends with her! Be especially friendly if she's the one who hands out the extra supplies. THE SCHOOL CUSTODIAN: Traditionally not the Science Teacher's best friend because of the messes we make. Train your students to clean up after labs.  Don't dismiss until all lab stations are spiffy and for sure, until all paper scraps are in the trash!
ACTIVE LEARNING: In my opinion, actively engaging young people in the learning process is the best way to teach! Gets the best TEST results! Click here. And click here.

Read my Teacher Tutorial on this Topic!
TEACHER NOTEBOOKS: Keeps you organized! Use plastic sheet protectors. One per page. Put inside: original, answer sheet, transparency or any extra notes. Arrange in order of teaching. One Unit per notebook. MANAGING GAMES: Active learning games can be chaotic but don't have to be! Train your students well at the beginning. Games engage more students in learning and result in better test scores! Email me for a FREE Audio Podcast on how to train your schudents to play educational Team Games without chaos!
BONUS WORK: Our Science Department allows a student to raise their grade by 3% using BONUS POINTS. If you give one point per page, it takes loads of pages to get that many pages. In the meantime, they've reviewed the course content and know the material well! I try to put out a couple BONUS PAGES every day.  BELL BONUS: Use a small white board. Change the Bell Bonus Question every day. Sometimes a Challenge Question, sometimes a simple review question. Students answer on scrap paper and must hand in right
after the Bell rings. Don't take them late! Encourages students to arrive early.
Worth one point each!
GRADING SYSTEM: The best grading system I know for a general science, introductory-type course is: 50% Daily/Homework Points and 50% Tests/Quizzes. Add in Bonus Points on the Daily Side. Weighted grades are not necessary. You achieve some weighting by the number of points you assign. 10-25 points per Quiz vs. 100 Points per test. This give most kids a fair chance at a passing grade.
LIGHTING: I like lower lighting in the classroom. I only turn on half the ceiling lights. Then I put smaller table lamps on the counters and add torchieres to the corners of the room. Also fun: hang twinkle lights along chalkboard top or around doors and windows. DECORATIONS: Hit garage sales or your own seasonal decorations stash and decorate your classroom! Kids really appreciate the homey feeling this gives a classroom. Add cheery curtains to the windows! HALL DUTY: Make it a habit to stand in the hall during passing time. Tuck a pad of passes and a pen in your pocket. Greet your students with a smile. Write passes if needed. Encourage laggards to hustle into class! Close the door as the bell rings and look around expectantly for students to be on task. Take roll while students do Bell. Your behavior makes a strong statement!!
PACING: Try to change activities every 15-30 minutes, on average. Especially if you teach a Block Schedule. Labs run longer, of course, as do some written assignments. But you could break that up with a game in the middle! Go from quiet to noisy, from individual to pairs, to teams to lab groups, and back to pairs or individual. TIMER: I time everything! Keeps kids on their toes. They learn more when they feel obligated to hurry, believe it or not! It's always smart to set the timer for a little less time than most should need. This makes them hustle instead of dawdle. You can always add more time if most seem to need it.
Marcia's Science Teaching Ideas
PLANTS: Be sure to hang plenty of plants. Train yourself to water on Fridays.

CHEATING: Kids cheat. Expect it. You can take a stand against it, but kids will cheat. So, adopt practices that thwart cheating. Such as: Write four versions of each quiz, write at least two versions of your tests, walk the room during tests, keep a close eye on any test-taker who keeps a close eye on you! I almost never collect homework. Instead, I give Effort/Completion Points, then put up a transparency with the answers. Then I quiz it all on Friday so they figure they better LEARN it by doing their own homework!
NOTE: The top 10% of your students will cheat the most because they have the most to lose!
STUDENT LISTS: Type up student lists with blank columns to record Effort/Completion and other Daily Points. Total up at the end of each week and record in your gradebook as Week One Points, for example. Be sure to add Homework Page and Bellwork Page Points! I also take points for Objective/Learning Targets Pages.
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Created by MJKrech