Reflection: Discourse and Questioning Density Lab Stations - Section 4: Mini Lesson: Fishbowl


Group discussion and discourse is key to student's gaining a deep knowledge and understanding of content.  Without it, students can never truly become independent in their learning.  In order to be a true scientist, they need to know how to work in a group, question ideas, generate solutions, and found their ideas on evidence.  Just as their are standards in place for reading and writing, the speaking piece of scientific discourse is so important.  

Treat group discussion techniques as if they are a standard.  Actually develop lessons geared towards teaching discussion skills.  Without direction and feedback, middle school students do not have the tools to do this effectively.  While it may seem like it takes time and you have to slow down, it will pay dividends in the end.  It is one of those things that if you front-load the teaching of this, it will help you go faster later.  

As students develop mastery of this, they will be able to take ownership of their own learning and get so much more out of your experiments and labs.  You won't have to go back and reteach as much and students will retain information more effectively.  Moreover, improving their ability to speak like a scientist will no doubt carry over to improve their technical writing.  The Fishbowl Activity and Sentence Starters used in this lesson are two ways you can start incorporating scientific discourse in group discussion in your classroom.

  Teach Group Discussion and Discourse Just Like a Standard
  Discourse and Questioning: Teach Group Discussion and Discourse Just Like a Standard
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Density Lab Stations

Unit 3: Physical Properties: Mass, Volume, and Density
Lesson 4 of 5

Objective: Students will be able to explain how the state of matter and temperature of a substance affects the physical properties of that substance.

Big Idea: Students go through a series of lab stations in an exploration of density. They use Cartesian Divers, Coke and Diet Coke, and a Bunsen Burner Ball and Ring Apparatus help make students engaged in group discourse about density!

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14 teachers like this lesson
Science, density, volume, middle school, temperature, mass, thermal energy, state of matter
  80 minutes
density lab lesson
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