NOTE: Our district is transitioning to the NGSS. Although we are implementing some of the units this year, I am still required to teach units that have now been assigned to other grade levels. This unit is one of those units that has been affected by the shifts in grade levels. I continue to teach this unit because it meets the following Vermont State Standards:
S1-2:2 Students demonstrate their understanding of predicting and hypothesizing
S1-2:3 Students demonstrate their understanding of experimental design
S1-2:4 Students demonstrate their ability to conduct experiments
S1-2:6 Students demonstrate their ability to analyze data
I want students to gain a sound and working understanding of the scientific method. Although this unit will bring in magnetic concepts, the "major focus" continues to be developing learners to think like scientists through experimental learning.
Advanced Preparation: I have a variety of magnets, paper clips, string, tape, foil, bowls, cups, nails, etc. laid out in advance. That way the students will know what materials they can choose from as they create their questions and conduct their investigations.
"We have come to the end of our magnet unit. Just like the end of our force and motion unit, you are going to conduct an experiment to demonstrate your ability to think and write like scientists. This time, you will not be working with a partner but rather on your own."
I scribe for students who need it but will not help them with the process itself. This is a test to see how well they are doing with the scientific process. I want to see what they can do independently and which parts still need to be retaught and emphasized more as we go into our next unit.
I then hand out a copy of the Magnet Inquiry Task to each student.
"You will first have to create three different testable questions about magnets. You will write each question on the first page. Then you will choose which of the three questions that you will investigate. Then you will write your plan (procedure) and list the materials you will need. You can choose from any of the materials that are on the table. After that, you will make a hypothesis, perform your test, and record your data. Finally you will write your conclusion and tell me if your hypothesis was correct or not."
I am going over the whole task now but will have to go back over each section for most of the kids. By going over it all now, the students hear the whole thing and then my high flyers will be abel to work through it independently.
I have all of the students spread out around the room to work on the first page (developing the three testable questions). As they finish, I have them check in with me. I want to make sure that they truly have a testable question. If they don't, I will note it on their paper and then help them help them create one. It is important to do this because I want them to be able to complete the rest of the assessment. This way I can assess how they are doing with the other components of the assessment. It is important to note what parts they can and can't do independently.
"I want you to each find a spot to work on the first part of the task. Come up with your three questions and then bring it to me. I want to check in with you before you start your experiment. If you need to look at the materials available, feel free to get up and look at the stuff on the table."
"Once I check in with you, you can start working on the rest of the task. If you need help reading any of the questions, please ask. Remember to be detailed and clear with your explanations. I should be able to read what you wrote and clearly understand what you are stating."
I use the WWSU Magnet Rubric to score each students task packet. This is a rubric that was developed by our district science team. I like that it focuses on each part of the scientific method and I can see where kids are independent and where more teaching and practice is still needed.