Discussion Moves In Science

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SWBAT utilize discussion moves to engage in scientific communications.

Big Idea

How can you establish student-centered discussions supported by evidence? Try using discussion moves to engage students in meaningful conversations with their peers.

Bell Ringer - Using A Science Journal To Write A Reflection

5 minutes

Students need time to revisit and reflect on data collected in an experiment. I want my students to analyze data collected from the freshwater pollution lab so I follow up the next day.

This lesson focuses on the NGSS SP8 (Science & Engineering Practice #8) Being able to read, interpret, and produce scientific and technical text are fundamental practices of science and engineering, as is the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively. 

I ask students to write for 5 minutes about the Freshwater Pollution Lab. Students could write a question, an inference, a quote, or any combination of these choices (or all of them). If students want to write a quote, I guide them to quote our speaker from the park district, quote another student, or quote me (the teacher). Having students write for a sustained amount of time gives them an opportunity to process their thoughts and develop questions. This strategy will get students ready to participate in a class discussion. 

After students write, I draw them into a whole class discussion where they utilize Discussion Moves to engage effectively in a collaborative discussion. I want students to engage in a sustained discussion using precise science vocabulary such as: dissolved oxygen test, chlorine test, and pH test. This strategy directly relates to CCSS ELA-Literacy.SL.6.1 which states engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly. I use popsicle sticks to draw a variety of students into the discussion and encourage them to look at and use discussion moves. 

Analyzing The Data

30 minutes

I want students to analyze the data from the Freshwater Pollution Lab so I give them the opportunity to have a collaborative discussion with their table partner and use the Discussion Moves. I ask students to use evidence from the lab results to support their answers, ideas, and opinions. 

I guide students to discuss the Questions, Analysis, and Conclusion from the lab. I want students to build their speaking and listening skills as they build on each other's ideas. During the small group discussions, I circulate to each table to join the conversation. My goal is to listen: listen, help guide the conversation, and encourage students to stretch their thinking. I conference with all student groups but may spend more time with struggling groups of ELL and Special Education learners.

What Did You Learn?

5 minutes

What did you learn?

I learned that . . . because . . .

I ask students to write in their Science Journal and record what they learned from the Freshwater Pollution Lab. Giving students time to write helps them to process their thoughts and record it for evidence at a later time. It's best practice to give students a sentence starter. My sentence starter has two parts: what students learned, and because (evidence). This helps students to begin to form their argument to answer the essential question "What are the benefits of parks in a community?"