Elementary science schedules

I taught fifth grade and third grade when I was a classroom teacher.  Both grade-levels were departmentalized, so I taught science and another subject to two or three sections.  I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way (still can’t), and often stated that if I were forced to be self-contained I might quit.

Mary Bigelow, a.k.a. Ms. Mentor, looks at the pros and cons of teaching science in both self-contained and departmentalized scenarios.  There are compelling arguments to be made for both sides, I will admit.  What are your thoughts?

Many elementary teachers feel the nurturing and intimacy of a self-contained classroom is important. They get to know the students better and can focus on their needs throughout the day. … However, science can be overlooked, especially in an environment under pressure for students to perform well on reading and math tests. …

Departmentalized teachers may feel that the upper elementary students are ready for a different learning environment. The students get regular experiences in science, and the teachers can focus on one or two subjects in their planning. … However, having several teachers with different styles and personalities can be challenging for some students.

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2 Comments on “Elementary science schedules”

  1. Victoria G says:

    I also think that self-contained classrooms are detrimental to true science and mathematics. I believe the US is 44th in the world in science and 39th in math for just this reason. The children are not getting a good foundation in the formative years, solely because the teachers in the younger grades have no true science or math background. If teachers with degrees in math and science taught those grades also we would be better off.

  2. Jocoop says:

    I have taught both elementary and middle school. In elementary, planning for 6-7 subjects did not leave me much time or energy to gather the materials needed for a great science program. At the middle school I mostly teach science and math. Being able to plan for just two subjects makes everything much better for both me and the students.


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