Life Science: Session 3
Mary Bitterlich, Lakewood, CO
“Science is just about my students’ favorite subject now, and honestly, years ago when I was teaching, I wouldn’t say that was true–you know, there wasn’t as much excitement by the kids when you started a new unit. But with the actual exploring built into the curriculum, all the things they do themselves, it gets them excited, and that’s a big part of what’s fun about teaching science.”
School at a Glance:
Glennon Heights Elementary School
- Enrollment: 257
- Students per teacher: 15.9
1.5% American Indian
- Percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch: 18% versus a state average of 32%
Mary Bitterlich teaches third grade at Glennon Heights Elementary School in Lakewood, CO, a suburb of Denver west of the city, toward the mountains. Lakewood is a quiet middle-class community that has watched the population in the Denver area explode during the past thirty years. Founded in 1958, the school has seen what was once a sparsely built stretch of land between Denver and the mountains fill in with young communities full of new homes.
About 25% of the school’s 270 children are from minority populations. Glennon Heights’ students’ state test scores tend to be consistent with or higher than state averages.
Mary credits her children’s interest in science to the hands-on nature of the subject, and she has noticed that her school’s new curriculum, the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study’s (B.S.C.S.) Science T.R.A.C.S. (Teaching Relevant Activities for Concepts and Skills), does a good job encouraging children to explore and use their hands and minds. She feels it has made a big difference: “Not only is that a great way for the kids to learn, but it’s also a fun way to teach the kids, because they’re so involved, so motivated, so engaged…Science is their favorite subject now, and years ago, I wouldn’t say that was true.” Life science especially appeals to them, said Mary, because of the many ways they can connect to the subject matter.
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