Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Introduction to Scientific Models: Day Two of Seth and the Yak Attack! - Section 2: Team Activity


I had thought that the difficulty for my students would be in understanding that the investigative question was, Does air have weight?  What I did not expect, was that they would have such a difficult time with the prediction questions.  I didn't even realize how difficult, until I collected their Science Notebooks.  

Yikes!  It was clear that something was amiss!  Not only were many students unclear on their lab sheets, as in Sample 1 and Sample 2, but many students' predictions did not match the model that they drew.  Students were obviously confused and uncertain about what to draw.

The next day, I constructed a simple multiple choice assessment to see if the problem was because my students didn't understand the concept of using the meter stick as a balance to indicate weight (mass).  It was an issue with two of my English Language Learners, and I had some re-teaching to do.  However, the rest of the class scored well on the assessment, indicating they understood the concept.  In discussing this with them, I came to realize that they had a difficult time communicating their thoughts clearly in a written product.  It was a written language issue - and we had a great discussion about how being able to write clearly and concisely is so important in Science.  

One student suggested that they draw the model of Plaid Pete and Seth's predictions before completing the model sheet, and the rest of the class agreed that this would help.  So, I have revised the scenario sheet to include that.  

The next time I do this investigation, I will spend time more discussing the balance, especially with my English Language Learners.   I will also do the predictions at the bottom of the scenario sheet the day before, so that students are clear about what they are looking for.   

I went back and recreated the balloon investigation the following day, while my students watched.  Although some students were able to identify evidence that air has weight.  Others were still not convinced and will need additional opportunities to work with this difficult concept.  Sample 3 reveals one student's thinking.  

This is great evidence to support why students need more opportunities to engage with hands-on activities, and why just reading about scientific concepts or being lectured about a concept will not change student thinking or learning.

  Adjustments to Practice: Can I Have a Do Over?
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Introduction to Scientific Models: Day Two of Seth and the Yak Attack!

Unit 1: What's The Matter Plaid Pete?
Lesson 6 of 22

Objective: SWBAT Develop and use a model to describe a phenomenon.

Big Idea: How do scientists use models to revise their thinking and understanding of phenomena? Students use their new knowledge about scientific models to make a claim and provide evidence to support it.

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Science, science notebooks, Supporting Claims, academic discussion
  65 minutes
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