I have always been very passionate about science and education. This is why I chose to specialize in science education and why I have a strong philosophy of science education. My philosophy of science education has four key components I use to develop students’ thinking. They are scaffolding, questioning, inquiry, and engage, explain, explore, elaborate, and evaluate (5-E model).Throughout the semester, I scaffold all material in order to assist students in making more connections to relevant material. I believe that continuous questioning helps students to become critical thinkers. Inquiry and the 5-Es encourage students to go beyond learning the material and to begin to develop a deeper understanding of content.
Scaffolding is very important in all subject areas, but I believe it is crucial in science. The science curriculum has many interesting but sometimes tough concepts. I find that students sometimes become discouraged when they see some big scary concept which often times set the students up for failure. However, when I disguise new concepts by only building upon what they know, students are not so overwhelmed with all the new concepts that they are learning. Scaffolding also helps students make connections to information they already know and also encourages them to make cross curricular connections.
Within every classroom, there are two types of questions. The most common is teacher developed questions. In addition, there are student developed questions. When I emphasize the importance of questioning in my classroom, I emphasize both of these types. I am continuously questioning my students, encouraging them to think deeper to find the answers. With more experience, I stopped simply giving the correct answers, and I found that the students’ answers immediately became more valuable within the classroom. Questioning allows students to become critical thinkers and helps them to become inquisitive about learning. When students begin asking questions, I know that I am doing my job. Through questioning, students are not only challenging their own thinking, but they are also challenging the thinking of others around them. Questions which students develop are much more important than the answer, especially in science. All great discoveries in the universe began with a question and eager individuals who wanted to find the answer.
I love incorporating inquiry into my classrooms. I believe that inquiry is a great way to help students develop a deeper understanding of what they are learning within the classroom. However, inquiry is no easy task. In my science class, I try to incorporate a variety of hands-on activities, labs, and projects. This method of learning requires more student engagement and energy, which students don’t like at first. In addition, students don’t like the idea that there are no clear answers, but rather they have to use logic and reasoning and apply what they have learned to different situations. In order to incorporate inquiry into my classroom, I scaffold the different levels of inquiry through various activities. This becomes especially effective when the emphasis is not on getting the right answer but rather on the method of getting to the right answer. Inquiry is all about the process which students develop in applying the knowledge they have. I find that inquiry also helps students to better retain information presented throughout the class.
Lastly, I try to implement the 5-E model at the beginning of each new concept. Science allows for so much exploration and experimentation within the subject. The idea around the 5-E model is to give students the opportunity to explore and experiment with learning. Through this, the students develop the sense of discovery that science is all about. Discovery is a major part of science, and perhaps is the most gratifying aspect. The 5-E model helps students to succeed by allowing them to take control of their own learning. This is a scary thought at first, but I have always found that students enjoy science so much more when they are given the opportunity to explore it.
Looking back to when I was first in a classroom, my philosophy of science has really changed. I have slowly shifted the focus of my classroom to be more student focused rather than teacher focused. This has given my students the opportunity to develop curiosity for science within the classroom and leads them to develop their own questions. I used to believe that it was enough to incorporate inquiry or the 5-E model once into a science classroom throughout the semester. I now see it is important to create as many lessons as possible using inquiry or the 5-E Model. Also, I recognize that my lessons that I developed in my initial teaching experiences require adaptations to incorporate scaffolding, questioning, inquiry, and the 5-E model. Initially, students don’t like having to think about an answer and would much rather be given the answer. I think my philosophy of science education gives students the opportunity to really think about concepts and ideas and helps them develop skills that they can use throughout their life.