How to Plan for a Short Science Block

In the era of end of grade testing, so much focus is placed on math and reading. Daily schedules are usually built around these two subjects. Sometimes this leaves very little time for other important areas, such as science, social studies, and writing. In one of my previous (school mandated) daily schedules, I was allotted 20 minutes for science per day. Since my science block was at the very end of the day, some days I was able to stretch this to 25 or nearly 30 minutes by shaving some time off of dismissal procedures.

Here are some tips for planning if you are not given much time for science:

Gather many books from your school library

By bringing these books into the classroom, you are giving students the opportunities to read about the topics you are covering, in their own free time. I try to keep a tub of school library books at all my group tables. (I do have a classroom library that includes books that I have purchased. However, I always like to check out plenty from the school library as well, and I rotate these many times throughout the year. I try to keep them seasonal and also related to the topics we are covering in class.)

Gather links to all videos you want to show

Make a list on your computer. Include a clickable link, the title of the video, and the length of the video. Gather more video links than you think you will need.

Plan your unit ahead of time

Because my time is so short, I do not write out long lesson plans for science. (Fortunately for me, I have only been required to submit math & ela plans!) Instead, I print out a blank calendar page, and plan out what can be done each day. Of course, sometimes things change and I have to make adjustments. However, I am able to use this calendar almost like a giant checklist!

Incorporate into ELA time

Try to use texts that go along with your science topics as much as possible during your ELA block.

Make Good Use of Your Time

If you have only 2 or 3 minutes of your science block left, you know that is not enough time to start a new activity. However, you may be able to read aloud one (or PART) of a nonfiction text that you checked out of the library. The great thing about nonfiction is that the texts are usually divided by headings and organized by topic. You can easily grab a book and read a portion of the text. With just a few minutes you can also show a short video about the topic. (That’s why it’s important to have a lot of videos prepared, and to make note of their lengths.) When you have a short science block, it is very important to have plans for any small chunks of time. You want to make the most of every minute.

When you have a hands-on activity to do, consider explaining it to your class ahead of time. If I knew we had an experiment to do, I would try to prep my students for it the day before. We’d look at the materials and discuss what exactly we’d be doing.

Looking for science resources? Come check out the science section of my TpT shop!

Teach NGSS? I also have units specifically created for these standards!


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