Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Life Science: About the Course

Teacher-Talk Life

[Teacher-talklife] Session 1-What is Life?

From: Joan Edgar <jedgar_at_hanoverschools.org>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2012 12:51:51 -0400

Hi fellow students of this course--

I am enjoying reading your entries thus far, seeing where my fellow
classmates live and the grades you teach. I am a 6th grade science and
social studies teacher in Hanover, Massachusetts. Sixth grade science is
primarily Earth Science, but we discuss other areas of science with our
students as well, and I enjoy Life Science so much. My social studies
class is World Geography, and we end up discussing a lot of science in
there as well. Because I don't teach Life Science, I am discussing these
questions with some fellow teachers and with my homeroom students.

As for the questions for this week's Channel-Talk, "What is Life?", it does
not relate to what I normally teach in science class, but I am discussing
the question with my homeroom students and fellow teachers. We find that
students 6th graders have a pretty good idea of what is living and what is
not, although some of the characteristics are hard for them to understand
at this time. For example, although they have a basic understanding of
cells as the small things that make up larger things, many don't understand
that living things are made up of cells and nonliving do not. Like me,
many of them have a good idea if something is live, nonliving or dead, but
do not have that list that serves as a checklist of the five
characteristics of life, so they get confused on some items. The crab
shell is confusing to them, as it is one part of, rather than a whole dead
animal; I think especially since it is the outer part, it seems more like
clothing than part of the dead animal. The dried pea seems like a dead
thing, as my students as I well as I were unaware that a dried pea is the
seed that a new pea plant comes from. When it comes to matter and energy,
I would say our students' understanding of these things is pretty
rudimentary. Sharing the list of five characteristics with them was
interesting; lifespan and response to environment were a little easier for
them to get, as these are things you can see looking at an object. Cells,
DNA and matter and energy are a less concrete, therefore harder for them to
understand as fully.

This is my first Annenberg course, and I am taking it for credit; I can see
that it is a lot of work, but feel I am already learning some science
myself and also about children's understanding of science.

--Joan Edgar
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Received on Mon May 14 2012 - 13:06:41 EDT

 

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