Every teacher wants their students to do well. That’s a fact. But sometimes a middle school teacher will get a student who just doesn’t want to learn. We want to challenge you to see this type of student as an opportunity rather than a weight on the rest of the class, and your time.
Chances are, your students who “don’t want to learn” just haven’t been taught in an engaging manner. That’s where you come in teacher! Read on for tips on how to teach science and math concepts to middle school students who get As.
Get to know Your students
It might sound extremely elementary, but get to know your students. We know you spend hours learning their names, but try getting to know them on a deeper level. Sit down with a single student while the rest of the class is hard at work and ask them about their past learning experiences, what has worked for them and what tools and tactics to avoid. This will help you provide lessons that will really reach your students while giving them the power to mold their own education.
Now don’t get scared. You don’t have to create an individual learning plan for each middle school student. Instead, notice the patterns and group your students based of their learning styles and preferences. Tools like CK-12 allow you to create online groups of students where you can create multiple groups for a single class. We like the idea of grouping students based on their proficiency. Try creating three groups for your class: Basic, At Grade and Advanced. You can then assign different types of science and math content to each group to better reach your middle school students.
Knowing your students individual learning styles will also help in assigning science and math concepts for homework or practice. At CK-12, science and math concepts include modalities, or ways to learn a single concept. If you know the learning style of your students, you will know which modality to recommend such as a video, real world application, reading or simulation.
Engage them using tools they already enjoy
Middle schoolers seem to be so attached to their technology gadgets these days. Whether it’s Candy Crush, texting or YouTube, they are addicted to those little screens. But did you know you can channel that interest in the classroom?
Websites like CK-12 offer simulations, practice, videos and more on any device. You can use the content as supplemental material, or replace your entire curriculum with CK-12 material. You’ll even find entire textbooks (we call them Flexbooks) that are common core alligned and state standard alligned. The best part is all the Flexbooks are customizable so you can really create a customized curriculum.
Videos are a great way to begin a lesson or drive home an important science or math concept. Middle school students love the excitement of a good YouTube video. Shorten a science experiment by showing it in a video or take a virtual field trip to the Grand Canyon for an earth science lesson. There are so many great videos out there, just be sure to preview the entire video before showing it in the classroom.
Middle school students love their smartphones. Why not use them in the classroom? There are tons of resources available for smartphone learning including buzzers for an in-class game show, games, content to consume, flashcards and even calculators. Be creative in integrating your students’ favorite devices into your classroom.
Take the pressure off grades – make it fun
Learning should be fun, but grades often get in the way of that. Now, we can’t do away with grades, but there are ways to make learning more fun.
Every middle school student loves a good science experiment; especially the kind that blows up. Try integrating more experiements into your lessons and letting students use their hands to find out how it works.
Like experiments, real world applications are another great way to teach a lesson. Find something that interests your students such as sports, and relate that sport to a science or math concept. For example, use the concept of acceleration applied to a football field goal kick. For more real world applications, click here.
Pay attention to popular culture. If you can relate science and math concepts to Justin Bieber or skateboarding, you’ll get major brownie points from your students in addition to their attention.
Reinfoce learning through practice
They say practice makes perfect and boy are they right! Research shows that the more you practice a science or math concept, the more you understand it.
Websites like Braingenie and CK-12 have tons of practice problems for math and science that you can go through until you understand the concept. If your students still aren’t getting it, go back to step one and teach them the concept again, show a video, get their hands dirty with an experiment or real world application and then try praticing again.
There are tons of great resources out there for engaging your middle school students. Try thinking outside of the box and integrating some of their favorite technologies and learning styles into your lessons every day. Share your favorite ways to engage your middle school students in the comments section below.