By Tredina Sheppard
After my first year of teaching middle grades science, I quickly realized that I had to come up with a solution for my underperforming students. I had assumed that connecting the content to real world experiences was all I needed for all students to be successful in my course. Not only were these students performing poorly on unit assessments, they were also less likely to complete their homework or participate in classroom discussions.
At first, I was confused because I was sure my inquiry-based science class was an engaging and fun environment for learning. Students participated in hands on lab activities and created visual models of their thinking. It would have been easy to write these students off, but that’s not how we operate at P.K. Yonge. I was determined to get answers as to why students weren’t performing well on my unit assessments.
One would think that the lack of success in my classroom was due to not completing the homework. It’s true that homework is important, but it is a means to an end and that end is mastery of the content. I’ve had countless students with the capability of completing inquiry-based lab experiences and being successful on unit assessments. My concern lied with those who weren’t so successful or were unhappy with their progress. I still needed more information from students about their efforts on unit assessments.