Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

Monthly Update sign up
Mailing List signup
Search
MENU

Case Studies in Science Education

Jean — Grade 3

Teacher Profile

Name Jean
Experience 19 years
Grade & Subject(s) Grade 3; all subjects
Classroom 22 students; 15% special needs; 10% ESL
Demographics Suburban elementary school
Science Teaching Three times per week, approximately 120 minutes total
Curriculum District specified
Other Master's degree in elementary education;
Teaches in an "open" school

Contents



Module 1 - Introducing the Case

The issue that Jean shares with us involves multisensory approaches to teaching and learning science. Jean has a diverse group of students, which makes her more sensitive to the need for providing learning experiences and for assessing understandings in a variety of modalities, including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. For example, Jean believes that there should be pictorial and other print materials for visual learners to access, just as kinesthetic learners should be provided with hands-on investigations and opportunities to "act out" ideas. Jean hopes that multisensory approaches to her science lessons enable all students to learn and encourages them to recognize and develop other ways of learning.

States of Matter Activities

By working with water in its different states, students explore the properties of solids, liquids, and gases, and the relationships among them.

Discussion Questions

How would you describe student diversity in Jean's classroom? In any classroom?




What are the implications of this diversity for science teaching and learning?




How would you design science activities so that the needs of diverse learners are taken into account?





Module 2 - Trying New Ideas

Jean finds that careful organization and planning ahead of time are essential if she is to provide multisensory approaches to science teaching and learning. During the mystery powder activity, carefully matched pairs of students understand that the success of cooperative work depends upon each member's active participation and understandings. While collecting, recording, interpreting data, and then communicating findings, students are given the opportunity to use all of their senses to identify mystery powders. Jean notices that group members have productive discussions about characteristics of substances that often result in the process of negotiating meaning. Full-class discussion provides another opportunity for students to talk about their results. As with other activities, students' results are posted and made available for the class to see and use in future investigations.

Mystery Powder Activity

As the culminating activity in an extended unit, students rely on their prior knowledge from testing known powders to help them identify an unknown mixture of these powders by using indicators, making comparisons, and other methods

Discussion Questions

In your opinion, what features of the mystery powder activity support the goal of meeting diverse learners' needs? What features might hinder this goal?




How does Jean's approach to science teaching and learning compare to more traditional approaches?




How might a teacher design assessment activities that align with her goals for addressing student diversity?





Module 3 - Reflecting and Building on Change

At the end of the amphibians unit, Jean offers multisensory assessments that enable each student to show what he or she understands about the life cycle and characteristics of a frog. As the culminating activity, Jean and her students take a field trip to a nature reserve. Besides looking for and identifying specimens of amphibians, students show their understandings in other ways. Some draw pictures. Others write words. Jean considers the field work as an assessment of what students understand and remember from their classroom investigations.

Amphibians Assessment Activities

With the frog's life cycle as the focus of the unit, students explore the stages of development from egg to adult frog. They demonstrate their understandings by making clay models of the stages of tadpole development. And additionally, students are offered a choice of writing or drawing pictures to show what each student knows. A field trip offers the opportunity for students to connect class work with the real world and to offer evidence of their learning.

Discussion Questions

In your opinion, what features of the mystery powder activity support the goal of meeting diverse learners' needs? What features might hinder this goal?




How does Jean's approach to science teaching and learning compare to more traditional approaches?




How might a teacher design assessment activities that align with her goals for addressing student diversity?




LearnerLog

© Annenberg Foundation 2017. All rights reserved. Legal Policy