We are living in a time when our educational system is driven by standardized and norm-referenced testing; however, the population of students we are teaching is anything but standardized. Students differ in ability, learning style, and cultural backgrounds. We often neglect subjects and areas of study because they are not tested. Unfortunately, there are many students who will be doomed to failure if we continue to teach to the tests. Not all students have strengths in the areas of literacy and mathematics. A child, who continues to struggle in reading, will struggle in everything else until we empower them by giving them an area in which they can succeed.
Although I have not been teaching long, I doubt that I will ever forget a struggling reader that was in my second grade class last year. This student was becoming frustrated with reading and with school in general because he was not feeling success in the classroom. In early May, when I started to teach a science unit about life cycles, his attitude and self-confidence changed completely. Science was an area that he could feel successful in. At the end of the year he represented our class at the school's learning fair. The student, who just two months earlier, was ready to drop out of school at the age of nine, was able to clearly articulate his new learning. Others were so impressed that no one at the learning fair could stop talking about this little boy and his wealth of knowledge about life cycles. Because he was given this opportunity, he was able to succeed in other areas of the curriculum and is now on grade level in reading. For many students, success lies in science, social studies, music, and the arts.
My goal for this unit is to enable the students in my class to be more successful in reading and writing by giving them an area of expertise in science. Children are fascinated by earth science. Many of the students that I work with have not even been outside their own neighborhood, and when they realize that the world is immense beyond their comprehension, they immediately want to soak up as much understanding about our engaging earth as their second grade minds can contain.