This is simply a reflection.

Third graders are absolutely fascinated with magnets. Moving another object without touching it and turning a paperclip into a temporary magnet elicited ooh’s and aahh’s from both of my third-grade classes.

My students were engaged, asking good questions, and talking with each other about how magnets work. But even with that, I felt like my lesson was somewhat flat and had more style than substance. Looking back, I think that my students will remember what the magnets did, but how or why it happened. I think that this will be the case because of the language most students were using.

“The magnets stick together.”

“The magnets will get stuck to iron.”

“Wow, the paper clip is holding the binder clip!”

My students, with one or two exceptions, were not using the vocabulary words I thought I had taught them (north pole, south pole, attract, repel, magnetic field, etc). And, since they already knew what a magnet could do, I am not sure they learned much from this lesson.

I am not into showmanship for showmanship’s sake, and I feel that while my demonstrations were useful for the students, something was missing that would help the students connect the cool physical process that they were seeing to the unseen scientific facts that made it possible.

I think that the best way to make this lesson more valuable is to more clearly teach the vocabulary and then, make my students use and apply it in class.