Kids are natural scientists. Their curiosity about the world often expresses itself in direct observation and experimentation.
Students with learning issues often lose that natural curiosity—at Dearborn, we seek to reignite it, especially in science. We want them to ask the big questions: why do birds migrate, what causes lightning, how do tides happen—and where did our planet come from?
Science At Dearborn
We teach science four times a week in 40-minute periods. We work in small groups, no larger than nine students, with two teachers per class.
In the elementary school, we rotate each year through life science, earth science and physical science to provide a foundation for deeper exploration in the middle school. Middle school students follow the same three-year rotation with more sophisticated content aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.
We use standard elementary and middle school textbooks and adjust with instruction and assignments to student skill levels. Students demonstrate their understanding and knowledge through completion of experiments, slide presentations, posters, games, and experiments.
We also use periodic quizzes and tests to assess understanding and knowledge and help foster study and test-taking skills.
All Hands on Deck
Good science education is often hands-on, experential, and project-based. At Dearborn, students regularly participate in hands-on activities and experiments to help them better engage with and apply scientific concepts.
Third-graders build volcanos and create wild erruptions with baking soda and vinegar. Fourth-graders tend to catepillars and chrysalises and hatch butterflies during a life cycle unit. Fifth-graders build and test electric circuits in a unit on electricity. While learning about cells, eighth-graders might go on a field trip, collect pond water and use microscopes to observe, identify and compare unicellular organisms. Field trips round out our students' studies—our trips to the Museum of Science and the New England Aquarium are special favorites.
We also believe that science should be connected to current events and students’ lives—students need to know that science doesn’t just exist inside the classroom. We’ve watched the shuttle launches on NASA TV, discussed the continued impact of natural disasters (the earthquake in Haiti, the Japanese tsunami), and talked about fossil fuels and alternative energy sources in the wake of rising oil prices.
To meet our students' individual needs for learning supports, Dearborn teachers use common textbooks but adapt instruction, note-taking and work expectations to students' different learning skills. We offer those students with strong interests supplementary activities.
For extra credit, students might research and create a poster, slideshow presentation or a mini-book on the rock cycle, famous volcanoes or earthquakes.
Our goal is to meet students where they are and take our lead from them. We will support all the students in our care and provide them with the right level of challenge—and the right level of support. Their natural curiosity and desire to learn about the world will often do the rest.