Science Learning Plan Guidelines
provide a framework to implement a full open-inquiry investigation with your
students. (Developed by Lisa M. Nyberg, Ph.D.)
1. Pick a science
content area that you are currently teaching, or will teach very soon, that you
will use to begin your science inquiry investigation.
2. If you are using a
school-adopted curriculum, look at the scope and sequence of the content
presentation. Determine possible areas where you can implement an inquiry
investigation with your students.
3. Begin to gather
resources on your selected science topic. Use the library and/or Internet search
engines for young people, such as Yahooligans
http://www.yahooligans.com and science
Web links listed in
More, to spark your thinking about possible investigations on the selected
4. Think about the
modifications that might be needed in your classroom environment and/or
presentation style to facilitate inquiry investigations. Think about how to
enrich the learning community in your classroom. See Workshop 2 for ideas.
1. Provide your
students with some experiences with your selected science topic. Examples: Bring
in materials (natural or man-made) for students to explore, or show a video on
the topic. Make books on the topic available for review. Pre-select and bookmark
Internet sites that are developmentally appropriate for your students, and then
let students explore them. Set up a field trip if possible. These types of
activities may help stimulate interest in the topic and may spark questions in
the students' minds. Have students record any questions that arise during these
explorations. See Workshop 3 for ideas.
2. Complete the "K"
and "L" portions of a KWL chart to determine the students' level of
understanding on the topic area. Remember not to correct misconceptions during
the "K" portion of the discussion ("What do you know about_________?"). When
asking for questions ("What do you want to know about_________?") watch for
nonverbal signals from your class. Do many students look up, turn toward the
questioner, etc., when the question is asked or does the question only seem of
interest to the one student asking the question? This observation will help you
prioritize areas of inquiry investigation.
1. Think about how
you will facilitate the students' investigation. Do you want students to work
individually to investigate, or do you want them to work in groups? If groups
are selected, will you determine the learning teams, or will they be
self-selected? Will the students all investigate the same question or will they
investigate more than one question raised during their initial explorations? See
Workshop 4 for ideas.
2. Brainstorm with
students possible resources needed to conduct investigations.
1. Design a protocol
for the investigation. What will the criteria for evaluation be? How will
students collect and record data? See Workshop 5 for ideas.
2. Provide time for
the students to conduct their investigations.
1. Determine a format
for the students to share their investigation results. Based on the protocol for
the investigation, you may schedule a "jigsaw" type presentation, in which
individual students or learning teams share their "piece" of the puzzle and
contribute to the body of knowledge for the group.
2. As the students
share information, have them record new questions that arise. Look for patterns
in the information to help students put the pieces together and process for
meaning. Show value and respect for the student contributions. Celebrate their
discoveries. Model the wonder and curiosity of a life-long learner. See Workshop
6 for ideas.
1. Based on the
protocol for the presentation, you have set the stage for assessment. Examine
the quality of student work products. What modifications could you make to
improve the quality of student work? What documentation do you have to
demonstrate student understanding of the content area? See Workshop 7 for ideas.
2. All students need
a way to successfully contribute to the class body of knowledge. Think about the
demographics of the population of students you serve (ex., English Language
Learners, wide-range of developmental levels, students with special needs,
etc.). With the topic you have just investigated, what menu of assessment
options could you offer students in the future? Think about multiple ways that
students can "show what they know."
1. With your selected
science topic as a focus, how could you comfortably bridge the topic to other
subject areas (reading, writing, mathematics, etc.)? Think of authentic
interdisciplinary connections. Example: Write a letter to the government
recommending rainforest preservation. Provide the participants with an
assortment of possibilities to stimulate their thinking.
2. Try at least one
connected interdisciplinary lesson in three subject areas. Example: Reading,
Writing, Mathematics. See Workshop 8 for ideas.
3. Problem-solve some
areas of modification that you would like to improve in your next inquiry
investigation. What would you change in staging the learning environment? What
classroom management procedures would you change? How will you begin your next
inquiry investigation? What topic will you choose?
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