Teacher-to-Teacher Tip Archive

Tips for using Science World in the classroom

April 4-18, 2011
Kim Wiens, this Teacher’s Edition contributor, a science teacher at Warren Jr. High School in Bakersfield, California, suggests: Use this special double issue to get your students excited about Earth Day and raise your entire student body’s awareness of environmental issues and innovations. Divide your classes into groups of four to five students. Assign each group a different article to read and discuss. Challenge them to create a poster to communicate one or more of the ideas in the article. You may want to give class time for students to work together on a poster or sponsor a poster contest. All Earth Day posters could be displayed in your school cafeteria to get people thinking and talking about our planet’s future.

March 21, 2011
Priscilla Chan, a science teacher at Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies in New York City, suggests: After performing the “Hands-On Science” experiment using the Science World instructions, I have my students rewrite the experiment like the methods section of a formal lab. They identify the variables and controls and revise the methods section to see if they can improve upon the experiment. Then I have them redo the hands-on activity using their new parameters. Afterward they compare the methods. This helps them think like real scientists, who always repeat and revise their experiments as their work progresses.

March 7, 2011
Maureen Van Ackooy, a science teacher at Union Vale Middle School in LaGrangeville, New York, and this Teacher’s Edition contributor suggests: Some state tests now ask students to thoroughly explain their responses to short-answer questions. Here are two ways to use this issue of Science World to practice this skill: First, take the Check for Understanding questions a little further. Have the students answer the questions on the reproducible. Then have them cite where in the article they saw the answer. A second way to help students extend their responses is to ask the Pre-Reading Prompts on pages TE2-3 before reading an article. Then ask the same questions again after reading. Discuss how their answers changed, and ask them to defend their answers with facts from the article.

February 14, 2011
Maureen Van Ackooy, a science teacher at Union Vale Middle School in LaGrangeville, New York, and this issue’s Teacher’s Edition contributor, suggests: Is listening a lost art? Give your class some practice listening and taking notes with this issue of Science World. Instead of giving the students an article to read, read it aloud to them. The first time you read the article aloud, just have students listen to your voice so that they can get an idea of what the story is about. Then have them take notes during the second read-through. If this is the first time doing this type of activity, you may even want to read it a third time. Then let them use their notes to complete the article’s Check for Understanding page found online at www.scholastic.com/scienceworld to see how well they listened.

January 24, 2011
Kathleen Heidenreich, a science teacher at Chinook Middle School in Lacey, Washington, suggests: After reading about the animal adaptations in “Stunning Sea Flower, or Deadly Animal?” on page 14, create a fictional planet with various elements that life would need to adapt to. Some characteristics to consider are an atmosphere other than oxygen, amount of liquid water on the surface, temperature variations, or a planet lacking an ozone layer to block damaging rays from the star it orbits. Then challenge students to create an animal that can live on this alien planet. They have to explain its adaptations and also discuss the animal’s predators, how the animal protects itself, and what the animal itself preys upon.

January 3, 2011
Kim Wiens, a science teacher at Warren Jr. High School in Bakersfield, California and this Teacher’s Edition contributor, suggests: Teach your students a focused-reading strategy using the high-interest articles in this issue of Science World. Select the article that you want your students to read. Ask the students to number the paragraphs in the article. Then have them read the article and highlight any vocabulary words that they think are important—including any that they are unfamiliar with. Also, have students underline the main idea of each paragraph. Finally, review all pictures, captions, diagrams, graphs, and charts and challenge students to state what each one adds to the article.

December 6, 2010
Maureen Van Ackooy, science teacher at Union Vale Middle School in LaGrangeville, New York, and this issue’s Teacher’s Edition contributor, suggests: Turn Science World into a news program. After reading this issue of Science World, have the students write a brief summary of each of the articles. Then have them read the summaries from a news desk in the front of the room. Students can create fictional characters to be interviewed by newscasters. They can even create an “on air” personality to portray. You may even want to include a weather forecast to round off the news hour!

November 8-22, 2010
Melinda Mills, an education consultant and retired science teacher from Houston, Texas, with more than 30 years of teaching experience and this Teacher’s Edition’s contributor, suggests creating classroom research centers where students investigate topics discussed in Science World articles. The centers should include a simple activity and one or two questions requiring students to apply information from their reading. For example, set up a station with tuning forks and Slinkies to investigate pitch, resonance, and sound waves as discussed in “Singing Sensations,” (p. 18). Have them experiment with the equipment. Then ask questions about how these concepts affect singers. Research centers not only reinforce the concepts Science World presents, they also provide a direct link between the magazine and your classroom.

October 18, 2010
Kim Wiens, science teacher at Warren Jr. High School in Bakersfield, California, and this Teacher’s Edition contributor, suggests: When students connect what they know about the world to the material they are reading, their comprehension improves. Try this activity to help your students improve their reading comprehension by building on background knowledge: Divide the class into groups. Select any article in this issue. Have the groups make flash cards of the topics and vocabulary in the article. Have them organize the cards into categories based on their prior knowledge. Any terms that they do not know should be set aside. Circulate among the groups to identify misconceptions. Have groups use interactive whiteboards, overhead projectors, etc., to present their organizational strategies to the class. Encourage collaboration as they learn from each other.

September 27, 2010
Maureen Van Ackooy, this Teacher’s Edition contributor, suggests: At the beginning of the year, my students are not familiar with all of the great features of Science World. I take this opportunity to introduce them to the magazine with a scavenger hunt. I have created several different versions. One simple scavenger hunt that can be used with any issue has them seek out the Career, Gross Out, and You Can Do It pages. Later in the year, I also create issue-specific hunts.For this issue, I would have them find facts like, who the editor is, when the issue was printed, who wrote the biology feature, what pages have diagrams, and what the Science News topics are.

September 6, 2010
Priscilla Chan, a science teacher at Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies in New York City, suggests: One way to show that scientific research and science-related events happen around the world is to keep track of the places mentioned in Science World's articles. Put up a world map at the beginning of the school year. As you read each issue of Science World, place a mark or pushpin where each story takes place. Students can also make labels with a short summary of the article. At the end of the year, you can see where on the globe science news made headlines. You can also color-code the pushpins for Earth, biology, physics, and chemistry, and see where those subjects' hot spots lie.

April 19, 2010
Kim Wiens, a science teacher at Warren Jr. High School in Bakersfield, California, and this Teacher's Edition's contributor suggests: The articles in every issue of Science World provide great opportunities for students to practice their skill at taking Cornell Notes. After my students have had free-reading time to check out the issue, I have them choose their favorite article and take notes using the Cornell Note format. (Visit www.sdcoe.net/lret/avid/welcome.asp?loc=teacher_tools to learn about Cornell Notes.)

For homework, I ask them to create questions about the article or label its main ideas. The final step is to have the students re-read their notes, choose four or five key terms from them, and use those terms to write a three-sentence summary of the article.

March 15-April 5, 2010
Maureen Van Ackooy, science teacher at Union Vale Middle School in LaGrangeville, New York, suggests: At the beginning of your chemistry unit this year, have each student become an element on the periodic table. Have them create a nametag with their atomic mass and atomic number, and be addressed in class as their element name. As they learn about properties such as boiling point and density, have the students record the information on their nametag. Later on in the school year, they can use the information they gather as part of a research paper on their element.

February 22, 2010
Melinda Mills, an education consultant and retired science teacher from Houston, Texas, with more than 30 years of teaching experience, and this Teacher's Edition contributor suggests: After students have read the latest issue of Science World, tell them to find examples within the magazine of regular people behaving as scientists (e.g., showing curiosity, asking questions, making observations, using models, making inferences) or using scientific methods. For example, in "Floating Festival" (p. 6), the pilots analyze weather data and use different methods to compete in the contests. This simple activity is a terrific way to strengthen student understanding of the scientific process and further illustrates the use of science in their everyday lives.

February 1, 2010
Kim Wiens, a science teacher at Warren Jr. High School in Bakersfield, California, and this Teacher's Edition's contributor suggests: The Science News articles in Science World are perfect for an active reading strategy called P-Q-R-S-T that can boost reading comprehension. Students Pre-read the article, write Questions about it, Read the article, Summarize it, and finally Teach it to other students. This activity takes one 45-minute class period. I have my students work in groups of four. Each group member chooses a different news article. After a class discussion about the value of the strategy and how to implement it, the students work independently on the P-Q-R-S parts of the strategy. When everyone is done, they take turns Teaching the other group members about their article. Animated discussions often ensue! Click here to download the P-Q-R-S-T form that I use.

January 11, 2010
Kathy Casteel, a science teacher at C.W. Stanford Middle School in Hillsborough, North Carolina, suggests: In "Born in the USA" (p. 12), students will read about lemurs, which are endangered in the wild. When teaching endangered and threatened species, I have students design a zoo enclosure for an endangered species of their choice. They research the animal and its habitat needs, such as food, shelter, and sleeping habits. Then they use this information to design a suitable living space at a zoo. Once they finish planning their designs, the students present their findings to the class in the form of a poster display or a three-dimensional model.

December 7, 2009
Maureen Van Ackooy, science teacher at Union Vale Middle School in LaGrangeville, New York, suggests: Snowflakes like those described in "Secrets of a Snowflake" (p. 10) are crystals. Try this activity to demonstrate different types of crystals. Have students dissolve some sugar and salt in cups of water, and then let the water evaporate. Have the students observe what crystal formations are left behind. I like to ask the following questions about the crystals: How do they compare with snow crystals? How do they compare with one another? Do all substances dissolved in water create crystal formations? Does the ratio of solid to liquid affect the outcome?

November 9, 2009
From Priscilla Chan, a science teacher at Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies in New York City, suggests: To stimulate students’ curiosity and questioning, I cut out pictures from Science World, and give them to small groups of students. Then, I ask them to write down what questions they think that the scientists may have been posing about the picture’s subject. When they’re done, the students read the associated article and see if their predictions were accurate, and if not, they learn what area of investigation scientists are really studying.

October 26, 2009
From Laura Barone, science teacher at Portsmouth Middle School in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, suggests: When a new issue of Science World arrives, I have my students scan the entire issue and write down all of the italicized vocabulary words with Greek or Latin roots. Then, I ask the students to try and decode as many as possible before we read the articles. After reading the articles and discussing the words, students look at their list to see how close their list of guesses were. They are usually amazed at how many they found in the issue and how many they already know. We then use the unknown roots as an assignment to learn new vocabulary. For example, the vocabulary word sanguivore in this issue is composed of the Latin root words sangui- meaning "blood" and -vore meaning "to eat."

October 5, 2009
From Priscilla Chan, a science teacher at Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies in New York City: I find that students have difficulty with place value and how large or small a number should be. So, in order to help them understand the concept of scale, I take the "Numbers in the News" numerals and separate them from the written description. Then, I challenge students to use their number-sense skills to match up which numeral goes with which description.

September 21, 2009
From Laura Barone, science teacher at Portsmouth Middle School in Portsmouth, New Hampshire: This issue is great to help teach the Scientific Method Skills Unit. Each day, I have students do simple classroom experiments that highlight the steps in the scientific method. Before we do an experiment, we read the article that introduces and explains each step: asking a testable question; writing a hypothesis as an "if, then" statement; breaking a procedure into logical steps; collecting and displaying data; and forming a conclusion based on the data. I conduct labs that feature each of these steps, and I use the magazine as a model.

September 7, 2009
From Kim Wiens: Science World’s “I Want THAT Job!” feature informs students about the diversity of jobs available to those with a degree in a science-related field. Each issue profiles a scientist with a cool career and includes information about how teens should prepare for the career, where and for whom they might work, how much they would earn, and the job’s daily duties. I save all my issues and have my students do an “I Want THAT Job!” survey. Students work in groups and summarize the facts of about four to eight careers, noting whether or not each career interests them and if so, why. Click here to download the survey form.

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