1.) Use Effective Feedback
Feedback for student assignments must have a clear and focused goal, utilizing rubrics. When giving feedback, Stern (2017) urges the teacher to “Describe the student’s current work in relation to the overall goal” and to “focus on being descriptive rather than evaluative”(p.107). Rather than just issuing point for an assignment, this will allow the students to know what they need to accomplish next, and for me to know what topics may need reinforcement before we move on to the next unit.
2.) Use questions instead of explanations
We, as teachers, usually move to provide further explanation when our students are not understanding a topic. McGrath (2019) argues that we should instead “consider ways to frame questions to encourage cognitive work of understanding.” This can be facilitated through turn and talks, fishbowls, and jigsaws.
3.) Reduce Teacher Talk Time
Due to their access to digital information, teachers are no longer the fount of all knowledge. In order to keep their students engaged, McGrath (2019) states that “in effective classrooms, students see themselves as their own teachers” and that teachers need to shift “from lecturer to facilitator.” Students seem more engaged when their peers are speaking, and really benefit from Think Pare Shares and student presentations.
4.) Vary the Assessment Method
Stern (2019) states that “while the principals of assessment for conceptual learning should remain the same, the exact form of assessments can vary significantly” (p.103). For instance on an end of unit exam, questions should vary from multiple choice, to matching, to open-ended.
5.) Design Effective Formative Assessments
According to Stern (2019), formative assessments allow teachers to “make students’ current thinking about the conceptual relationship visible” and “leverage effect feedback to push student thinking forward” (p.101). Formative assessments help teachers build their lessons to help students realizing relationships between past units and the concepts in the new unit.
6.) Make Mistakes
Dean (2019) states that a “great way to [solicit a more in-depth understanding] is to make intentional mistakes and ask the class to fix them.” With this method, students need to “apply knowledge they’ve gained in class” as well as allowing the teaching to further evaluate their students’ understanding.
7.) Use Models to Help Demonstrate Conceptual Understanding
When using models, Stern (2019) encourages teachers to “share examples of different conceptual relationships, and have students analyze what makes those examples so high quality” (p.109). For instance, when teaching a unit on Earthquakes, students can identify on a building blueprint or diagram what would make it suitable to survive an earthquake.
8.) Gamify the Classroom
Utilizing programs like Classcraft of Classroom Dojo “blends games and storytelling to motivate students,” “incentivizes positive behavior” and “solicits long-term behavioral improvement for many students” (Dean 2019). This will help with classroom management, as well as promote positive relationships between students on the same teams.
9.) Teaching with Songs
According to Alegra (2017), “Music is one tool to engage each student and provide a pathway for connections and deeper understanding.” There are a whole host of songs and music videos for Science, from They Might Be Giants and their album Here Comes Science, and anything from the Bill Nye the Science Guy.
10.) Start with Struggle
Teachers are sometimes too quick to provide hand holding and detailed steps when they sense students’ discomfort with an assignment, but McGrath (2019) points out that “removing the struggle for students also removes cognitive heavy lifting that leads to deep learning and understanding.” I will utilize more open ended STEM projects, that gives students a goal, but it is up to them to figure out a way to reach that goal.
11.) Partner Coaching
As compared to a think-pair-share structure, Stern (2019) states that partner coaching “moves beyond simple idea exchange, putting each student in the position to help his or her partner grow as a thinker”(p.32). This makes the students accountable to one another, as well as ensuring that they themselves are participating.
12.) At First I Thought-But Then- So Now I Think
Stern (2019) argues that this template for a evaluation “helps students identify their preconceptions and become aware of the way their understanding is changing as a result of their learning experiences” (p.33). Many students come into Science class with their own preconceptions about how the world works. This strategy allows them to see their own evolution of thought as the unit finishes.
Alegria, Maria. “Music as a Teaching Tool.” Edutopia, George Lucas
Educational Foundation, 7 June 2017,
Dean, Mary. “10 Effective Teaching Strategies for Every Classroom.”
Classcraft Blog, Classcraft, 19 Jan. 2020,
McGrath, Shannon. “Talk Less So Students Learn More.” Edutopia, George
Lucas Educational Foundation, 15 Nov. 2019,
Stern, Julie Harris, et al. Tools for Teaching Conceptual Understanding,
Secondary: Designing Lessons and Assessments for Deep
Learning. Corwin, a SAGE Publishing Company, 2017.