Why Is The Process of Science Important?

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Students understand the important aspects of science experimentation and why they make scientific findings believable.

Big Idea

The process of doing science is as important as the results you get.

Teachers' Lounge

This lesson is about having the kids get an understanding of WHY we have to do science in a certain way.  Kids generally have a very implicit understanding of this, but this lesson helps make it explicit and more generally understood.  I do this lesson the day before kids perform their own experiments for the first time.  In the past, this has greatly increased the success rate the students show on their lab work.  I think the model of the shared reading really makes it clear what is expected when doing a scientific process.  

Ready. Set. Engage!

5 minutes

Learning Goal: Students understand the important aspects of science and why "how" you do science makes results believable.

Essential Question:  Why is it important that science be done in the "right" way?  What would you need to see in a scientific experiment to believe in ghosts?

The beginning of class is an essential time to harness.  Effectively using this time not only gives you more minutes of teaching but can also solve management issues, create motivation and engagement, and build a class culture of learning. 

In my class, this time is called Ready... Set... Engage.  The students come iton the room, get ready (get their stuff), get set (get settled in their seats), and engage in writing the learning goal and answering the opening question on the board.  By the time the bell rings, students should be in their seats and working.  Rather than calling attention to students that are not doing their job, I use ROCK STAR SCIENCE tickets to reward students that are working when the bell rings.  This goes a long way to developing a positive class culture.  


5 minutes

I explain to students that we are going to talk about science and beliefs.  Before I share the video, I have students share out their answers to the essential question, "What would you need to see in a science experiment to believe in ghosts?"

Then, I show this video and prompt students to think about proof, evidence, and belief.  This video is good for the purpose of this class...but isn't overly engaging or interesting.  I try to make it more interesting and funny by asking the students if they are scared, pretending like I'm afraid of the ghosts, and generally being funny.  Since the main point of the video is to give them a visual of "bad" evidence, this is a great time to insert humor.  

After the video, I ask the students if the video convinced them.  Why or why not?

Focus: Shared Reading Day 1

10 minutes

Shared reading is a strategy I use to help students unpack different genres of reading.  In this lesson we are looking at the genre; Lab reports.  Doing the shared reading first will help the students be able to write their own lab reports later.

The purpose of the shared reading is to explore a reading while uncovering the teacher's thinking about how to read it.  Shared reading generally takes place over three days.

Day 1- Noticings

Day 2- Questioning, Determining Importance, Visualizing OR Clarifying

Day 3- Summarizing, Inferencing OR synthesizing

These lessons are meant to be brief 10-15 min and generally have a short focus lesson by the teacher followed by a short time for student exploration.  A more complete description of shared reading can be found here.  

In this lesson, the purpose of the shared reading is simply to let students see some of the general parts of a lab report.  The first thing I do in a shared reading is simply pass out the sample lab report and let the students look at it on their own for 1-2 min.  I tell the students that for the next three days we are going to be reading the same lab report and trying to learn different things about it so that on the third day we can write our own lab reports.  

Then, I read the lab report  to the students.  It is important in shared reading that the teacher models the reading each day because the teacher is still owning the cognitive load of reading and thinking.  As I read I would stop every once in a while and ask questions or point things out.  I might say things like;

"Oh I see there are different sections."

"I wonder what a hypothesis is?"

"This looks like the directions in a recipe." 

When I'm done reading, I tell the students that I'm going to make a list of the things I noticed about the lab report. I would put some of these noticings on an anchor chart.  I like making an anchor chart instead of simply writing it on the board because then I can pull it out on day two and three. 

-There are different sections (like hypothesis, data, procedure)

- The writing is kind of "boring"

- There are numbers

Once I've listed several items on the board, I have the students work in partners with a sticky note and make their own list of things they notice.  We share out some items making our list bigger.  

At the end of the lesson, I tell the students that writing lab reports is a special type of writing we do in science to communicate our results.  It is different from other types of writing because the purpose isn't to entertain but to simply explain an experiment and the results so that other people can understand it.  


10 minutes

I explain to the students that we are going to do some writing now to get our ideas on paper.  This type of writing is called writing to learn** because the purpose of it is to connect ideas in our heads, not to show off our writing skills.  I show students an Anchor Chart on writing to learn and go through it with them exhibiting my thinking.  

Then I hand out the Writing to Learn Journals.  These are journals that we will be using in class almost everyday to get our thoughts down.  As this is the first time students have used the journals, I explain the process and do a demonstration.  

Once students are ready to write, I project the prompt. "How does the process of doing science make results believable?"  I go back to the lab report as an example and ask them to think about that type of writing and what made that writing special.   I give students 5 min to write and ask them to use examples.  If they get done early they should illustrate their writing because that will help them solidify their thinking.  

When the students are done writing I ask them to share their thoughts.  After a few answers, I point out some important items I want the students to remember and understand, that science is about data, that the data helps us understand and belief the conclusion, that without evidence science is not really science.  

** I have a new practice this year of putting in a structure for writing to think.  This structure includes having a log for each student in their class folder and then using the logs 3-4 times a week. This video explains why I am going forward with this practice, how it is set-up in my class, and I look at a piece of student work to see if it is doing what I want.  


15 minutes

 As it is early in the year, it is important for us as a class to come up with our community norms.  I do that with this lesson because we are already talking about how you write and think in science and it makes a nice transition to then talk about how you act in science. 

I got this lesson idea from a picture on pinterest of a classroom management Classroom Norms Anchor Chart.

First, I remind the students that our main rules in class are

1. Be Safe

2. Be Learning

3. Be Leading

Any rules that we come up with in the class need to be in that category.  I hand out to the students three sticky notes.  Then I post three questions on the board.

1.  What do you need to do in class to be successful?

2.  What does the teacher need to do for you to be successful?

3. Everyday our class should be __________________.

I have the students write down their answers on the sticky notes.  Then I make anchor charts for each question.  I take the sticky notes and read them putting them on the anchor charts.  For each anchor chart I talk about how important learning is and how our behavior will help us learn more in class.  I like asking the question about what the teacher needs to do because I think this makes it clear to students that there are rules that I need to follow as well and that we are a learning community.  

 I ask the students if they think they can follow these norms.  Then I get out a poster of a tree without leaves.


I get out stamp pads and have each student put a finger print on the tree to make the leaves.  (I do this too) We all sign our finger prints indicating that we agree to follow the classroom norms and build a learning community.  

The tree poster and sticky note anchor charts hang in our room the rest of the year as a visual reminder of our agreements.  

Guided Practice

7 minutes

This part of the class is flexible because it is a chance for students to talk about experiences they've had in school and how they have impacted the learning.  If the class is running slow, it is easy to cut this section out, if the class is fast then you can extend it. 

I ask the kids what is the difference between how they behave at home and how they might behave at school.  This is an important conversation because this is how we will talk about the dress code, continuing class expectations, hallway behaviors and so on.  It is easy for me to model this by talking about how I'm different at home and at school.

I like running the conversation from this perspective because it presumes positive intentions.  The idea isn't that there are WRONG behaviors or BAD behaviors, the idea is simply that we behave differently at home and at school.  

It is also a great time for us to practice the discussion expectations, raising hands, listening, polite responses, ect.  


3 minutes

To close out class, I go back to our learning goal and remind students of the "ghost" video we saw at the beginning of class.  We have a short discussion about the process of science and I point out that the way we gather data, the type of data we collect, and what we do with the data, makes the science conclusions believable.  I preview the upcoming activities by telling students they will be doing their own labs tomorrow and that it will be important to follow a science process so that other people will believe their results.