Using IVCDV Charts

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SWBAT: Identify the difference between independent and dependent variables, and controls.

Big Idea

Keeping track of different variables can be difficult. This lesson helps students remember the meaning of each one and how to identify them in an experiment.

Introducing Variables

10 minutes

Note: This presentation was contributed by a fellow BL user.

Planning and carrying out investigations (SP3) is an important skill to teach middle school students. Discussing variables is an important part of understanding how science experimentation works.  I start class by showing this presentation, which describes the different variables in an experiment.

The practice of planning an investigation (SP3) in science can occur only if students understand how investigations work.  This lesson identifies some critical aspects of science experiments and uses the IVCDV strategy to help students make connections with the crosscutting concept of cause and effect relationships.  

Student Practice

20 minutes

Now that students have a sense of the variables, it is time to allow them to work in collaborative groups to practice distinguishing between the different variables and controls.

I give out the scenarios worksheet and students, in their groups, first read and then fill in the required information.

The video shows how I assisted students who were struggling with identifying the independent and dependent variables in an experiment.  I tried to emphasize that IV means, "I am changing this part of the experiment" to test its effect on the DV (plant growth).  


We then review answers and I clarify any confusion.  Here is a sample of IVCDV Work sample.

Student Scenarios

20 minutes

I provide students with the opportunity to generate their own scenario(s) to help them get more practice.  The scenarios then turn into formative assessments when other groups try to identify the variables within the ones the other groups created.

If you run out of time then you can have students complete a scenario for HW and review it the following day. 

Here are student work samples:

Work Sample 1

Work Sample 2

Tip: I like to give students the opportunity to create an IVCDV chart first and then they can write a scenario.  This helps students structure the design of their experiment which is the most difficult part.  However, once they have the structure of the chart then writing the scenario is easier.