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Lesson 4: Don’t skip that science discussion time {Season 3, Episode 53}

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Lesson 4: Don’t skip that science discussion time {Season 3, Episode 53} 

In today's episode, we are back to talking purely about science! This fourth lesson is about a charge not to skip that science discussion time.

Welcome to Season 3 of The Tips for Homeschool Science Show. This season, I am sharing 10 lessons I have learned in my ten plus years of homeschooling.  I hope that all of them will help you on your homeschooling journey!

{Disclaimer - I don't claim to know everything there is to know about homeschooling, but these ten lessons are ones that I have found important and useful in my homeschooling journey. And I trust that you will too.}

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Lesson 4 Transcripts

Don’t skip that science discussion time

For our fourth lesson, we are back to talking purely about science! Over the years I have learned not to skip that science discussion time.

I discovered this little tidbit as life got a bit busier with the addition of our second child. I was looking for more time in our day and it seemed a bit redundant to read, discuss, and write. So, I figured we could cut out the discussion time and just get straight to the writing. It was a great idea, but in practice, it didn’t go so well.

I learned that discussion time gives the student time to formulate their written answer. It helps to work out the mental kinks. It helps me to know that they have picked up the key information. And it helps us to make connections between what we are learning and seeing with what we already know.

Discussion time in science, well really in any content subject, is a fundamental part of the learning process. So, don’t learn this lesson the hard way – just believe me when I say you don’t want to skip your science discussion time!

Now that we are all on the same page, here are a few tips I have learned along the way for how to have a good discussion about science with your kids.

Tip #1 - At the beginning, break it into smaller chunks.

Narrating, or orally sharing what you have learned, which is the whole point of your discussion time, is a skill that takes time to learn. If you ask your students to discuss a multi-page spread packed with new information for your very first discussion time, it might not go so well. You need to build their attention span and their memory capacity.

The best way to do this is to start by breaking the material into smaller chunks and by pausing after each section or paragraph and saying, "Tell me one thing that we just read about ___." Then, when you get to the end of the reading, you can repeat their answers and ask for a sentence or two of what they learned about the subject.  You can also let the students look at the book as you read and point to each section so that they can match the visuals with what they are hearing.

I have seen that it helps to break things down into smaller chunks and give a few visual cues to help the students remember what they just heard. Both of these things made our science discussion times go smoother and produce more fruit in the long run.

Tip #2 - If you hear crickets, ask a few comprehension questions.

Normally for our discussion times, I like to ask a few broad questions, such as “What did you find interesting from what we just read?” or “Can you tell me two things you learned from what we just read?” But sometimes those questions are meant with blank stares and the sound of crickets chirping in the background.

So, when that happens, I will try asking more specific comprehension-style questions that lead your students to a clear response. For example, "How are male lions different from female lions?" Oftentimes, kids won't respond to the broader questions because they are afraid of getting it wrong, even though there is no wrong answer to those types of questions!

Then, after I ask a few comprehension style questions, I ask those broad what-did-you-learn type questions again. At this point, the students will almost always have a few ideas!

Tip #3 - Encourage opinions and connections.

Science discussion times aren’t just about parroting back information. This time is an opportunity for our students to share what they have learned and for us to help them make connections between what was shared and what they know. And because of this, we definitely want to encourage our kids to share their opinions and any connections they make on their own.

It may seem sometimes like the train has left the science-learning station. But trust me if you help the tracks head back to the subject you are reading about, your discussion time will become more memorable and meaningful to your students. And those crazy stories will serve as memory pegs.

In a Nutshell

So as you add discussion times to your science plans, start with smaller chunks, ask a few comprehension questions, and encourage your kids to add their own opinions.

When you do, you’ll reap the reward of fruitful learning moments and easier writing times, plus a few laughs along the way!

Additional Resources

If you want a few more tips for notebooking and writing, check out episode 12, 13, and 14 from season 1 where I share the stages of writing and why I love notebooking.

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  • Paige Hudson
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