A More Engaging Way to Learn NGSS with Bring Science Alive!

Meet Dawn Gersich

“I have more and more students who enjoy science, love coming to science, and have a better science vocabulary.”

Dawn Gersich

  • Grade: 6th
  • Subject: Earth Science
  • Program: Bring Science Alive! earth science programs
  • District: Peoria Public Schools, Peoria, IL
  • Years Teaching TCI: 5 years

When Dawn Gersich’s district was selecting new science programs, they were looking for something that aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with easy-to-use materials and labs. After reviewing multiple programs, the selection committee chose TCI for its phenomena-rich lessons and hands-on investigations.

“TCI was the only company offering hands-on, lab-based activities that included the materials. The phenomena stood out to us, and they were a part of every lesson. TCI presented itself as more engaging for students and a better way for them to learn the standards.”

For the past five years, Dawn has been teaching with TCI’s Bring Science Alive! earth science curriculum, which includes the planet earth, space, and weather and climate programs. Dawn appreciates how TCI breaks down complex science concepts, listens to teacher feedback, and has features that make teaching and learning easy.

Engaging Students and Improving Science Vocabulary

Bring Science Alive! engages students with rigorous investigations so that they gain a deep understanding of science. Since using TCI, Dawn has noticed her students’ excitement for science has increased, as well as their understanding of key science terms. “I have more and more students who enjoy science, love coming to science, and have a better science vocabulary.”

One of the reasons Bring Science Alive! leads to a greater understanding of science is the thoughtful way lessons explain complex concepts. In particular, Dawn appreciates how TCI’s space lessons help students grasp concepts through hands-on experiences and models.

For example, in the lesson Earth’s Rotation and Revolution, students create a classroom planetarium. They work together to model celestial bodies and understand patterns like day and night and constellations throughout the year. “I love the way TCI breaks it all down, explaining the moon’s phases and the earth’s rotation and revolution—that’s such a difficult concept to understand. It’s so broad and large, and bringing that down to the classroom level has been one of the best ways to help students understand what’s happening.”

Listening to Teacher Feedback

TCI’s teacher support extends beyond the classroom. Along with comprehensive science backgrounds, differentiating instruction, and grab-and-go material kits, TCI regularly connects with teachers to understand their experience with the program and implement changes based on feedback. Dawn often connects with TCI to ask questions and provide feedback. “One of my favorite things is the fact that TCI has always reached out and asked, ‘What can we do to make things better? What do you need?’”

In 2022, TCI received feedback from 22,576 surveys, 231 teacher interviews, and 1650 emails. TCI uses this feedback to continuously improve the learning experience and make teaching easier in the classroom.

“If I email, which I did often early on, there’s someone on the other end listening. TCI is continually trying to grow and make the program better for the people who have to use it.”

Features That Make Teaching and Learning Easy

Feedback helps shape TCI’s digital features so that teachers and students can have a successful classroom experience. For example, students can access reading tools to take notes and highlight important information.

Dawn’s students use the highlighter tool to mark answers to notebook questions. “When my students find the answer in the text, they highlight it and then write it down in the notebook, which isn’t something I had thought of making them do. So then, when we’re taking a test, they can go back and find those notes that’ll hopefully jog their memory and help them find the right answer.”

One of Dawn’s favorite tools is TCI’s test builder, which allows her to customize the pre-made assessments or create a test from scratch. “I like the ability to modify the assessments easily. I can entirely create my own, or I can use TCI’s. Or I can take the questions TCI has developed, drop those into an assessment, and then add my own. Then, once I create the assessment, I can offer it to students digitally or print it off. The versatility of the assessment tool is probably my favorite.”

We love hearing from teachers like Dawn, who use TCI’s tools for easy lesson planning and to enrich the classroom experience.

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Dawn’s Favorite TCI Activities

The Rock Cycle

Students analyze and compare six rock-forming processes, use various tools to examine and classify 12 types of rocks, evaluate a sample rock cycle diagram, and draft their improved model.

Energy in Earth’s Systems

Students observe the effects of heat on the density of a liquid and describe how the flow of energy might cause changes in matter within Earth’s systems.

Earth’s Rotation and Revolution

Students create a classroom planetarium, in which they model Earth’s rotation, the movement of constellations, and how Earth’s axis points toward Polaris.

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