Reflection: Staircase of Complexity Day 2-Is It Really There... Proving Salt Is In The Water - Section 3: Elaborate and Explain


Developing A Scientific Explanation Using a Graphic Organizer

In this lesson, Day 2-Is it Really There?... Proving Salt is in the Water,  I have students write a scientific explanation using evidence from their investigation to support the claim that salt is really in the water.  In order to achieve this task, I felt is was best to guide and support students through processing their thoughts, observations, and conclusion to this explanation with a Developing A Scientific Explanation Using graphic organizer, found in their investigation packet at the start of the lesson. They begin by identifying the question of of the investigation: "Can you Prove Salt is Really There?  I have them rewrite this in the template to remind them of the purpose of this investigation.  Then, I ask them to describe how they collected their evidence in order to support their explanation. By by have them recap their investigation, helps them recall the important parts of their design that provided them with useful evidence. Next, I move them onto writing a claim statement about followed by evidence to support their sentence. They refer back to their observation notes to use as evidence for this section of the table. Once they identify their evidence, they link their claim and evidence together to develop reasons for the outcome. In addition, I remind them that in this section they should apply what they already learned about matter throughout our unit: matter cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only change and the particle theory.  By connecting what they have learned already to their evidence in this investigation, my students are engaging in a higher level thinking to scientifically explain outcomes. At this point, I ask them to analyze the evidence they have collected. I want them to recognize and understand that some evidence is stronger than others when determining a conclusion.  

By engaging students with this graphic organizer to unpack and scaffold their thinking about the investigation, they develop a deeper understanding of this NGSS science concept (PS1.1 Develop a model to describe that matter is made of particles too small to be seen) It supports them by providing structure for the complex task of writing an explanation and using scientific reasoning to explain the outcome. As they deepen their own understanding of the content, they improve their ability to justify and rationalize the claims they are making.  

Constructing a well written explanation is complex task; therefore, it is important to staircase the instruction. It is essential to define an explanation. What does it look like, sound like, how is it written etc. Many students do not know what an explanation entails, so it is important to model the expectation through examples and provide opportunities for practice. With practice, students should receive ongoing feedback. They need specific suggestions so they know what exactly to work on and assessment will be fair. In all, developing a scientific explanation is an on going progress, but is essential to helping students develop a deeper understanding of the content they are learning. 


  Staircase of Complexity: Constructing a Scientific Explanation
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Day 2-Is It Really There... Proving Salt Is In The Water

Unit 2: Structure, Function, and Properties of Matter
Lesson 13 of 19

Objective: SWBAT prove dissolved salt is still present in water.

Big Idea: Students will use evidence from their investigation to construct a scientific explanation that salt is really in the water.

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Science, matter, structure, function
  60 minutes
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