Wexler-Grant Community School is a pre-kindergarten through eighth grade New Haven Public School. Wexler-Grant is primarily a neighborhood school for the Monterey Housing Development although recently it has had a huge influx of students from all over New Haven. The students are socioeconomically disadvantaged and the school provides both free breakfast and lunch for its students.
Racially my class is ninety eight percent Black and two percent Hispanic. My class is representative of the racial break up of the rest of the school. I teach a first grade class primarily composed of students that were recommended for retention last year, retained from second grade or have special educational needs. Additionally I have two children with extreme special needs in which their IEP's specified a small classroom environment so I was fortunate enough to have a small class size of fifteen students.
In my experience science in the lower elementary grades has been nearly ignored due to the intense focus on improving literacy proficiency. Particularly this year literacy training and improvement has made teaching science almost impossible as our new program from BEL Mondo requires a two hour uninterrupted block everyday. Even if science gets taught intermittently throughout the year without sustained attention to it my students cannot internalize the concepts and build on them. Due to these complications it is imperative that my science unit is directly related to the first grade weather standards and also be an integrated unit that can also be taught through literacy and incorporated over a prolonged and sustained period of time.
Being far below average as a class, even for my particular school, these students have little or no experience or background knowledge with science and only a few are proficient readers. It is absolutely necessary to have an integrated unit that utilizes all of my student's abilities and allows them many opportunities for hands on activities which cater to their various learning modalities. The structure for teaching each concept will follow a similar pattern to assist my students who need extra practice and routine. The unit will provide a pattern of being introduced to a concept, having a read aloud based on that topic, having a mini experiment or demonstration and then filling out an observation in their science journals with various supplemental materials in technology and film. Each concept must be explicitly introduced, explored and modeled before connecting it to the larger concept of weather.