November 27, 2018 by HCDE-Texas
When you think of kindergarten classes, you picture kids playing with building blocks and coloring. However, kindergarten students at Franz Elementary in Katy Independent School District are learning chemistry through children’s literature. This curriculum was made possible from Harris County Department of Education Teaching and Learning Center’s Science Fiction: Teaching Chemistry with Children’s Literature workshop.
HCDE Curriculum Director of Science Lisa Felske taught the course for many years, but it is now offered online for busy educators who can work at their own pace like Katy ISD Title 1 Science Facilitator Tammy Matthews.
“In searching for trainings to go to better myself this year, I searched the HCDE website and found that they were offering several online courses,” Matthews said. “Of course, with our busy schedules I thought great, this would be perfect for me to do.”
The title of the workshop seemed intriguing to her because she wanted to better the science curriculum in her district.
“I am trying to grow my rigor in the lower elementary in science courses as well as the upper elementary,” Matthews said. “In looking into it, I just felt like it was a great fit for me especially being online.”
This course covers topics in chemistry like metals, nonmetals, dissolving, properties of matter and soil chemistry. Children’s books used in the course are “Zack’s Alligator,” “Two Bad Ants,” “Gregory the Terrible Eater” and “Diary of a Worm.”
Franz Elementary kindergarten bilingual teacher Patricia Muskus went through the same workshop about eight years ago and has been using “Zack’s Alligator” in her classroom.
“I liked it so much because it is more orientated towards kindergartners, so I brought it back to my team and have been doing the lesson every year,” Muskus said. “We did the measurement portion of the lesson, but this year added the sections of weight and absorption.”
Students enjoyed the fact that there’s an alligator named Bridget in the story. Each classroom gets to watch the growth of the sponge-foam alligator which expands in the water.
“It’s truly engaging because we’re learning vocabulary, changes and measurements, which is a very wide range of learning,” Muskus said. “It takes about two weeks for this lesson because we’re observing the changes in size of Bridget the Alligator and recording them in a journal.”
Currently, Franz Elementary is the only school in Katy ISD using the program but Matthews will be sharing the curriculum with teachers at other Katy schools.
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