Elementary Science

What Does Inquiry Science Look like in Elementary Classrooms

As we promote "inquiry science", I thought it might be good to hear what this means to different people. I suspect there are going to be some differences in what we think? I think we can all learn from each other. Something to think about...what does inquiry look like in the classroom? What does it sound like? What is the teacher doing? What are the students doing?

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
34025 Activity Points

Ok, I will go first. Maybe I would see students working in pairs and talking quietly. What els?

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
34025 Activity Points

Inquiry is when students are questioning something or trying to solve a problem. They may approach it with a discussion or it may be an experiment. If students are actively engaged in inquiry the teacher should let the students explore and just be a facilitator, not the leader. As for what it would sound like, there would be lots of discussion and activity amongst the students.

Betty Paulsell
Betty Paulsell
48550 Activity Points

Hi Kathy, Great question! Betty, I agree that inquiry is about solving a problem through experiment, discussion, or investigation. For me, an inquiry classroom is one where students are excited and engaging in learning using their natural curiosity. In the early grades (pre-K - 3), I think using guided inquiry helps guide students as they explore solutions to problems. In the upper grades (4-6), full inquiry is a great way to enable students to solve problems. When I envision an inquiry classroom, I see students in small groups (2-4 students) and working together to solve a problem. I hear students saying, "Let's try this" or "Let's see if this works". I see a teacher who is circulating the room encouraging the students, asking questions about solutions, and providing encouragement to students as they explore solutions to the problem.

Maureen Stover
Maureen Stover
41030 Activity Points

I agree with all of you. I think of inquiry as when students are discovering through hands on learning experiences. They are developing their own questions and finding answers through experiences. The teacher would be there to prompt/guide them with questions (if needed). The teacher should be playing the role of the facilitator for the class. Maureen- I agree with how the classroom would sound. To me there is nothing better than hearing a student saying "let's try it this way", "maybe this can work", or even hearing them say "wow, I didn't think that was going to happen." I recently did a 5E lesson plan for my class and they loved it. I forgot all about the 5E lesson plans because I'm still in my first few years and seem to still be remembering/learning things. I did a lesson with animal adaptations and tied it into a movie. The movie got the students thinking and excited for the experiment. We made predictions and then the students explored. I heard more/new questions being asked as students were investigating. It was great to hear the ideas they came up with.

Sara Kinyon
Sara Kinyon
2100 Activity Points

I like almost anything that Kendal Hunt does in inquiry education. Here is the link to their Elementary science texts http://cse.edc.org/curriculum/insightsElem/

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68525 Activity Points

Productive, inquiry-based science study enables children to realize they can raise and answer questions themselves. http://scene.asu.edu/habitat/inquiry.html Harlen, Wynne. Primary Science: Taking the Plunge. Second edition. Heinemann, 2001. 140 pp. The best book we have read so far on how to do inquiry-based science with children ages 5 to 12. Doris, Ellen. Doing What Scientists Do: Children Learn to Investigate Their World. Heinemann, 1991. 194 pp. As the back-cover review states: "This is a splendid down-to-earth book for any teacher interested in doing science in elementary years but unsure how to go about it." Bourne, Barbara, ed. Taking Inquiry Outdoors: Reading, Writing, and Science Beyond the Classroom Walls. Stenhouse Publishers, 2000. 142 pp. Case studies by different teachers provide models and ideas for how inquiry can be done productively outdoors. Basile, Carole G., Jennifer Gillespie-Malone and Fred Collins. Nature at Your Doorstep. Teacher Ideas Press, 1997. 161 pp. These activities for K-6th grade students are a good starting point for exploring the ecology of your school yard, and provide practice with the inquiry process. Hall, Jody S. et al. Organizing Wonder: Making Inquiry Science Work in the Elementary School. Heinemann, 1998. Case studies, from a group of teachers who tried to implement the ideas in Primary Science: Taking the Plunge in their own classrooms, provide examples of student explorations of physical science phenomena, as well as reflections on the process of teaching through inquiry and overcoming the stumbling blocks to doing so. Rueff, Kerry. The Private Eye, (5X) Looking/Thinking by Analogy. The Private Eye Project, 1998. 229 pp. An excellent resource for getting started with hands-on science and connecting it to all areas of the curriculum. "The Private Eye is a program about the drama and wonder of looking closely at the world, thinking by analogy, and changing scale. It's also about theorizing. Designed to develop higher order thinking skills, creativity and scientific literacy— across subjects, it's based on a simple set of 'tools' that produce 'gifted' results. Hands-on, investigative, The Private Eye, using everyday objects, a jeweler's loupe, and simple questions— accelerates science, writing, art, math and social studies, as well as vocational and technological education. It builds communication, problem solving, and concentration skills. For K-16 through life, all levels, The Private Eye develops 'the interdisciplinary mind.'" (from the back cover) National Research Council. Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning. National Academy Press, 2000. 202 pp. A practical guide for teaching science through inquiry. Chapter 3, Images of Inquiry in K-12 Classrooms, provides helpful models for putting inquiry into practice in the classroom. You can read this book online at: http://books.nap.edu/html/inquiry_addendum/

Pamela Auburn
Pamela Auburn
68525 Activity Points

Hi All, Inquiry in a classroom is can be rewarding for both students and teachers! Sometimes, it can be difficult to have all students engaged. There may be one or two students leading the discussion and other not participating at all. I learned a way to allow all students to be actively engaged. After students have participated in this activity a few times, they become more comfortable. The Fishbowl activity is a small group of students sit at a table with any materials needed for the lesson. A second group stands behind the students sitting at the table. These students are observing, possibly taking notes and listening, but not talking to each other or the adding to the discussion. Each student is given two colored index cards, for example blue and yellow. The teacher directs the students to start the discussion with the blue card. A student places the blue card in a pile to ask a question or make a statement about the lesson. Each student places their blue card in the pile to respond. It is not until all the students blue cards are used, that the other yellow card can be used. Essentially students only get two times to contribute to the discussion. This enables all the students to be engaged and part of the discussion. It also prevents a student from taking over the discussion. After both cards are used, the students standing and observing switch with the students engaged in the discussion. Generally, the next group will pick up the conversation and it will become more in depth. The first few times I tried this activity, it was not easy to just observe. I realized that in not be active in this activity allowed the students to successfully work as a group and create a meaningful discussion. The students will be amazed at what they have learned from the lesson and each other!

Opt_out Opt_out
Tara Soleta
1560 Activity Points

When I think about inquiry science I think about the constructivst learning theory. I believe that in inquiry science, the teacher is a guide to the students. The teacher doesn't tell the students what they are going to learn, she instead asks questions and engages the students. The students work in groups, ask questions, make their own discoveries, and are involved in discussions. Students work on their own and learn from their own discoveries and experiences rather than reading a science book and taking notes. The activities are also hands-on not completing worksheets. Inquiry science is fun for both students and the teacher. Students learn in a meaningful way and have fun too.

Doris Padilla
Doris Padilla
3345 Activity Points

When I think about inquiry science I think about the constructivst learning theory. I believe that in inquiry science, the teacher is a guide to the students. The teacher doesn't tell the students what they are going to learn, she instead asks questions and engages the students. The students work in groups, ask questions, make their own discoveries, and are involved in discussions. Students work on their own and learn from their own discoveries and experiences rather than reading a science book and taking notes. The activities are also hands-on not completing worksheets. Inquiry science is fun for both students and the teacher. Students learn in a meaningful way and have fun too.

Doris Padilla
Doris Padilla
3345 Activity Points

by Kathy Renfrew, Mon Apr 02, 2012 8:43 PM As we promote "inquiry science", I thought it might be good to hear what this means to different people. I suspect there are going to be some differences in what we think? I think we can all learn from each other. Something to think about...what does inquiry look like in the classroom? What does it sound like? What is the teacher doing? What are the students doing? When I think about inquiry science I think about the constructivst learning theory. I believe that in inquiry science, the teacher is a guide to the students. The teacher doesn't tell the students what they are going to learn, she instead asks questions and engages the students. The students work in groups, ask questions, make their own discoveries, and are involved in discussions. Students work on their own and learn from their own discoveries and experiences rather than reading a science book and taking notes. The activities are also hands-on not completing worksheets. Inquiry science is fun for both students and the teacher. Students learn in a meaningful way and have fun too.

Doris Padilla
Doris Padilla
3345 Activity Points

Pamela has posted some great getting started resources. There is nobody better than Wynne Harlen. Taking the Plunge is an easy but excellent read. Questioning is explored very well in the book. I learned a lot about what type of questions to ask when. It made me much more intentional about my questions. Each one had a purpose. Antoher resource I really like for working with elementary children is "Doing What Scientists Do". What resources do you have that will help us identify and implement inquiry science in the classroom. KAthy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
34025 Activity Points

I been thinking about the question "What does inquiry look like or sound like?" I think it is hard to envision in such as generic way. I wonder if we took a topic that is taught in many elementary classrooms and then brainstormed what we might develop it as an inquiry based science unit...... How about electricity.?? How would we start?

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
34025 Activity Points

by Tara Soleta, Sat Apr 07, 2012 5:05 PM wrote:
Each student is given two colored index cards, for example blue and yellow. The teacher directs the students to start the discussion with the blue card. A student places the blue card in a pile to ask a question or make a statement about the lesson. Each student places their blue card in the pile to respond. It is not until all the students blue cards are used, that the other yellow card can be used. Essentially students only get two times to contribute to the discussion. This enables all the students to be engaged and part of the discussion.

Tara,
This is such a great idea! I've used the Class Cards app that randomly choose which student to call on next and then marks them off for participation, but I really like how your system encourages the kids to be in charge of their participation. Do you help guide the discussion with probing questions or reign in the conversation if it gets off topic or do you let the students go wherever the conversation takes them? Thanks so much for this idea! I'm definitely going to try it out soon!

Maureen

Maureen Stover
Maureen Stover
41030 Activity Points

Kathy Renfrew, Mon Apr 09, 2012 7:28 PM wrote:
I been thinking about the question "What does inquiry look like or sound like?" I think it is hard to envision in such as generic way. I wonder if we took a topic that is taught in many elementary classrooms and then brainstormed what we might develop it as an inquiry based science unit...... How about electricity.?? How would we start?

Hi Kathy,

This is a great question and an excellent topic. One of my PD goals for this year was to learn more about electricity and magnetism. I have attached a collection of resources related to Elementary Electricity Inquiry.

I would introduce my unit using a story book like Too Many Toys ISBN 9780439490290 or Flick a Switch ISBN 0823417298. Next I would have the students explore electricity by doing hands-on activity to investigate static electricity (maybe rub a balloon on various materials like wool, silk, plastic, etc) or possibly building simple circuits with light bulbs and batteries. I would have the students elaborate in their journals and encourage them to discuss in their journals how a light switch completes a circuit. I'm going to do some more research and then post back here with more ideas for my electricity inquiry-based unit.

I can't wait to hear how other teachers would approach this lesson!

Maureen


Electricity Inquiry - Elementary Collection
(9 items)
WPS Inquiry Based Science Lessons - Elementary
     -User Uploaded Resource
Electrolyte Racers
     -Journal Article
Coffee Can Speakers: Amazing Energy Transformers
     -Journal Article

Maureen Stover
Maureen Stover
41030 Activity Points

Inquiry Science...I think inquiry science involves students working in small groups engaging in discussions about the experiment they are partaking in. The students are hypothesizing, observing, and thinking of factors that can change the results of the experiment. One lesson I like doing in my class are balloon rockets. I give the students materials to build their rockets (straws, balloons, and string)and have them do the experiment on their own. I then have different material available such as balloons (long balloons, water balloons,12inch balloons, etc.), different size straws, and types of string (this is acts as their track) to experiment how these factors can affect the outcome of the distance their balloon rocket travels. I keep the experiment in the hand of the students and this results in them truly learning about hypothesizing and how there are many factors that can change the outcome of an experiment.

Cristey Kagawa
Cristey Kagawa
2970 Activity Points

Kathy asked, "
What about electricity? How would we start?"
i think I would use the Picture Perfect Ladies' lesson called: Batteries Included! It is written in the 5 E inquiry lesson model and integrates both a fiction and non-fiction book into the lesson's activities.
Carolyn

Carolyn Mohr
Carolyn Mohr
86483 Activity Points

Hi, I am taking a Teaching Elementary Science class this semester and we have learned a lot about inquiry science in the classroom. My professor has given my classmates and I the opportunity to personally experience science inquiry. A lot of what everyone has posted mirrors what I have done myself in my class this semester. To me science inquiry in the classroom is when students are given the opportunity to come up with an investigatable question. The students are also given the opportunity to make observations, gather data, and explain their findings. Students are the ones doing the teaching and learning in this process with guidance from their teacher. In this process the teacher should be observing what the students are doing and having them explain their findings. The teacher should also probe the students in order to challenge their thinking. I am still very new to the educational world (especially in the science area) so feedback would be appreciated.

Stephanie Salazar
Stephanie Salazar
3580 Activity Points

Hi, I have never learned about science inquiry up until this semester in college. I am in my Senior year of college and taking this science class has helped me have a greater understanding about this topic. Not only has our professor taught us the information, but she has also implemented it into the classroom. We have all participated in inquiry activities and I have loved it. I have already written science inquiry lessons and at first, it was difficcult because I had never done it in that format. Through writing the lesson plan, step by step, I was able to have a greater understanding. There are five steps/points in the learning cycle model of instruction: Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Elaboration, and Evaluation. Before starting the lesson plan, the teacher should ask herself three questions. 1: What do I want my students to know? 2: How will I know if they know it? 3: How am I going to get there? In the first part (engagement), the teacher should think about activities that can promote student involvement in the new topic in an exciting way. Motivating them to actively be enaged. In the second part (exploration), tap into and activate student's prior knowledge. The third part (explanation), direct the instruction or active learning experiences that build new content knowledge. The fourth part (elaboration), allow further applications through which students can compare the efficacy of old ideas and new understandings. The fifth part (evaluation), experiences enable both student and teacher to assess changes in ideas and development of new skills. I hope this helps. It sure has helped me plan the lessons.

Stephanie Landa
Stephanie Landa
3950 Activity Points

Stephanie, You are definitely on the right track!! It also sounds like you had a great science expereince before you left your teacher training. You are one of the lucky ones. I was never introduced to "inquiry science" until I had been teaching at least 10 years. I particpated in a program called Physics of Fluids with wonderful instructors. What a change that made in my science instruction. It is too bad I had to wait for so long to know what I was missing. My students began to enjoy and learn science also. Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
34025 Activity Points

Hi all, I'm really excited to delve into Pamela's resource attachments on inquiry and appreciate the collection on electricity and magnetism. Unfortunately, that's more end-of-year science than now because this quarter I have more earth science materials to cover. I like inquiry science that is based on students problem-solving. Many of the favorites came up with earlier in the thread like: students asking "why don't we try this?" or "how about this way?" is the conversation I like to hear. The smaller groups of 2-4 definitely work better. I've tried 6-8 before with somewhat disastrous results. However, it has to be the right combination of students or the right supports. I notice that the hands-on students are much better at the process of inquiry and the paper-and-pencil thinkers are really hesitant. The teacher has to be circling the classroom and listening in to conversations. One excellent guiding technique I learned in college was "non-committal grunting." My professor was a primary-trained science educator who said "nothing stops the process like a teacher's approval." She held up pictures of a grunting pig when we tried to demo "non-committal" comments when giving feedback to groups of students. I have to restrain myself to really get the students on task while giving them the freedom. One component that has to be reinforced is providing the opportunity for students to access the background knowledge or know how to reference it when they get stuck. I think physical science tasks are often the easiest to access. I really liked the bottle-rocket lesson! Students, however, need the time that we often times can't afford. A strategy that I've tried with inquiry-based teaching in science is to extend the process to other content areas. That way students can learn the questioning techniques and them reapply them to the process of science.

Lori Towata
Lori Towata
2805 Activity Points

Lori Towata, April 16, 11:14 PM wrote:
A strategy that I've tried with inquiry-based teaching in science is to extend the process to other content areas. That way students can learn the questioning techniques and them reapply them to the process of science.

Hi Lori!

Can you give us some examples of how you extend inquiry-based science to other content areas? I am always looking for for ways to extend ideas and concepts across content areas. I've found that it really helps my students internalize concepts since we explore the same idea in several different content areas.

Thanks!

Maureen

Maureen Stover
Maureen Stover
41030 Activity Points

Tara, I love the fishbowl activity idea. What a great way to make sure all students are involved. It also gives other students a chance to observe their classmates and truly listen to what is happening. Thanks for the wonderful idea! Sara

Sara Kinyon
Sara Kinyon
2100 Activity Points

by Maureen Stover, Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:21 PM Tara, This is such a great idea! I've used the Class Cards app that randomly choose which student to call on next and then marks them off for participation, but I really like how your system encourages the kids to be in charge of their participation. Do you help guide the discussion with probing questions or reign in the conversation if it gets off topic or do you let the students go wherever the conversation takes them? Thanks so much for this idea! I'm definitely going to try it out soon! Hi Maureen, I’m glad you find the cards exciting! I explained to my students that I would not participate in their discussion, I was there as an observer. For me the idea is for my 4th graders to gain a sense of ownership of their dialogue while having a group discussion. And for them to realize that their participation is important in teaching and learning. Their conversations generally stay on topic and become very insightful. The first few times, after the activity we would have an open discussion of the things we noticed. They recognized the fact that all group members were able to say something, and that the dialogue allowed everyone in the group to be equally involved. I encouraged the students to not be afraid to disagree with what another student says if they feel that way. I explained that this activity is to encourage them to speak their thoughts. I also brought up the idea that it can lead to a terrific conversation that others can learn from. I hope your students enjoy this activity as much as mine do!

Opt_out Opt_out
Tara Soleta
1560 Activity Points

Tara, I think the fishbowl activity using the index cards is an excellent one that moves students forward on a continuum to where they can engage in scientific argument that is the expectation of the new k-12 Science Framework and I assume will also be part of the new National Science Standards being developed by Achieve with the help of science supervisors from 26 states. In order for students to engage in scientific argument about their inquiry investigations, they need to be first taught what argument means in science class and how it is different from the everyday usage. There might be protocols that students might use as they learn how to engage in scientific argument. It is a very exciting time in science education! Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
34025 Activity Points

Doris, I have wanted to implement what I consider to be 'true' inquiry that way, but I have hesitated. I feel so very tied to frameworks and now standards, that I struggle with how to consistently implement science inquiry.

Rebecca Johnson
Rebecca
415 Activity Points

Rebecca, I sometimes think that I used standards as an excuse for not doing good inquiry science. Hindsight being 20-20 vision, I truly believe that students can generate their own question, engage in hands-on experiential investigations and create their own learning and still live within the new K-12 Framework for SCience Education. I don't think it is necessarily easy and I think it requires much more upfront planning on the part of the teacher. I think we need to be intentional about our questioning and be comfortable in our content knowledge. I would love to hear what others think. KAthy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
34025 Activity Points

Hi All! Here is some excellent reading for you from the LC about Inquiry.


Inquiry Collection
(70 items)

     -

     -
A New Model for Inquiry
     -Journal Article

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101510 Activity Points

As the school year comes to a close, I am thinking about what I might do differently to ensure that inquiry science instruction improves in the classroom. I needed something to push my thinking so I got out a document that combined the 5Es and the Cycle of Inquiry. I spent some time reviewing it and trying to decide where I couldimproe my instruction. I think I do a pretty good job of Engage. I think the next piece is okay also. I have decided that the Explain is where I could do somethings differently. I want to do a better job at the making meaning piece. I want to work on teaching students the skills they need for good science discourse and argumentation. I can think of two resources that may help. I think I will start with Ready, Set, Science...Chapter 5 Making Thinking Visible: Talk and Argumentation. What part of the cycle will be thinking about over the summer? Do you have resource you might use to share? What piece of the Learning cycle will you work on?

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
34025 Activity Points

I believe that an inquiry elementary classroom should have and encourage the 5Es. Should offer the students the opportunity to think and come up with their own theories and ideas. The students should know that is alright to make mistakes and ask questions. This is my idea of an inquiry classroom.

Ariadna Alvarez
Ariadna Alvarez
3010 Activity Points

Adriana, Your post made me think about the connection between the 5 Es and the Inquiry Cycle, so I am attaching a model that was created by one of my colleagues. This visual does a nice job showing the connections between the inquiry cycle and the the 5 Es. I think we need to spend much more time on the last 3 Es...explain, elaborate and evaluate. Those are the Es that will bring our students to a higher level of cognitive thinking. I know that I do an awesome job of engage, an adequate job of explore....but what often happens in the classroom is thst we are out of time after these 2 Es. Students often do not get to the Making meaning part of the science lesson and beyond. Food for thought?? Kathy

Attachments

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
34025 Activity Points

I am a pre-service teacher taking my last few classes before internship.I am currently taking one about teaching science in elementary school. We were just learning about what makes a good science class and the 5E's. We were able to write a lesson plan so we can see how to work this style of teaching into our future classes. To me its a great way to get the students involved in their learning. In this style of teaching the students are more in control of how they learn and the teacher acts more of a guide. There is some lecture , but mostly hands on learning which is how science should be.

Sarah Bettsack-Walker
Sarah Bettsack
3355 Activity Points

Kathy, I agree that the last 3 E's could get overlooked due to the excitement during the explore portion of a lesson. It might be difficult, but maybe the way that could be solved would be to try to incorporate the last 3 E's into the explore portion, or continue the experiment into another class period to make sure those last 3 E's get discussed? Inquiry to me is hands-on learning where children are guided, their ideas and perceptions are assessed, and they are answering difficult, but testable questions.

Brittney Waters
Brittney Waters
3295 Activity Points

Hi: After three years of being the master teacher on a teach quality grant for 5th grade teachers I have watched them begin the transition from teacher centered activity toward true inquiry. In three years that I visited them in their classrooms they began to take baby steps. I have attached some charts that I always found helpful to provide for these teachers so they understood what Inquriy was in relationship between student and teacher. It was so hard for them to give up their teacher dominated postion, even the younger teachers. I hope these charts might be of help to you as well. Adah

Attachments

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101510 Activity Points

In order to have Inquiry in the classroom it's important to guide the students rather than lecturing them. Have them work together in groups and do an experiment together. Ask them what happens and why it's happening. Allow them to figure out the activity for themselves. This is a way to promote inquiry based learning in the class.

Luis Ruiz
Luis Ruiz
2285 Activity Points

I was just thinking about an article I was reading about the curiosity of young children and how they are natural learners. One inquiry activity I found that is a great one to use in classrooms is to put an object in a container such as a coffee can or shoe box. Seal up the container and let students figure out what is inside just by listening and moving the container around. This leads to all kinds of inquiry discussion among the students. You can put marbles, rocks, rice, etc. in the container. This can also be done with old film canisters.

Betty Paulsell
Betty Paulsell
48550 Activity Points

Hi all, "Your post made me think about the connection between the 5 Es and the Inquiry Cycle, so I am attaching a model that was created by one of my colleagues." Kathy, one piece of science inquiry that I don't see explicitly represented on the 5E & Cycle of Inquiry model is the science talk that you described so well in the workshop in Philadelphia. I agree with Brittney that extending the time to analyze the data into another day rather than jumping into another exploration would allow the 5E Explain and Elaborate to unfold. And folding the science talk into language arts, and the data analysis into mathematics, could squeeze more into a limited day. I see parents of my preschool students get very excited about their children's science explorations. I dearly hope that they pressure the K-12 school systems to mandate science instruction in elementary school. Peggy

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
9535 Activity Points

Peggy,

You are correct. Talk is essential in science. It is even elevated more by the Speaking and Listening standards in the Common Core ELA and it is front and center in Science and Engineering practices in the Science Education Framework.

I think I would like to work with a few colleagues to talk about that and see in which sections it should be included and in which places it might be a good idea to include.

Your post has given me something interesting to work on in an almost empty office 4th of July week.

What are your ideas on this?

Kathy

Attachments

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
34025 Activity Points

Peggy, I went and did some research on this issue and guess what I found. I knew Karen Worth would not have left talk out of the mix and I was correct. See the attached chart where it explicitly notes the times and the type of talk that should occur at each place. I think it would be good to get this information on the other handout so it could be seen visually in one place.

Attachments

Connections.docx (0.03 Mb)

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
34025 Activity Points

Kathy, Thank you for posting the 5E and Cycle of Inquiry and the Connections to talking and writing documents. These are fantastic reference tools for science teachers! Maureen

Maureen Stover
Maureen Stover
41030 Activity Points

Betty Paulsell, Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:22 AM wrote:
One inquiry activity I found that is a great one to use in classrooms is to put an object in a container such as a coffee can or shoe box. Seal up the container and let students figure out what is inside just by listening and moving the container around. This leads to all kinds of inquiry discussion among the students. You can put marbles, rocks, rice, etc. in the container. This can also be done with old film canisters.

Hi Betty,

Thanks for sharing this activity! I have used a similar activity, that I discovered in Picture Perfect Science Lesson, Vol. 2 with students in grades 3-4 to teach the difference between observations and inferences. I give the students many different tools, such as magnets and balances, to investigate the canisters. In addition to using inquiry to determine what is in the film canisters, we also read the book Dr. Xargle's Book of Earthlets. My students always love the story and have so much fun exploring and investigating. This is one of the first lessons that I teach at the beginning of the year. It's an excellent introduction into inquiry based learning and starts the year off with students who are excited to learn through exploration and inquiry!

I've attached my lesson plan for anyone who's interested.

Maureen

Maureen Stover
Maureen Stover
41030 Activity Points

Thanks all for the resources for developing science inquiry in our (PreK-)Elementary classrooms. Even though science inquiry doesn't seem to be the focus of the NGSS, it remains a central part of the standards. Kathy, regarding the resources you shared-the 5E Cycle of Inquiry from the Vermont Dept of Ed, and the chart, "Connections: Talking and Writing in Science Inquiry" (What is the source for that?)... I drafted an incomplete, tentative, suggestion of “Where should “talk” be included on this diagram” as informed by Connections: Talking and Writing in Science Inquiry. I hope you all will jump in with your thoughts and critique to make it a more useful tool! Some insight that speaks to me from "Examining Language to Capture Scientific Understandings: The case of the water cycle" by Maria Varelas and all, in [i]Science & Children[/i], April 2001, talking about children’s statements about the water cycle: “…statements…include specific scientific terms naming the changes of states (e.g. evaporates). However, such statements do not explicitly refer to a change [in state of water]—the change is ‘hidden’ in the scientific term that labels it. We do not know whether children who used such statements made sense of the water cycle as involving or not involving transformations of states of matter.” When talking with preK-grade 2 children about how balls move on an inclined ramp, some children say “Gravity” as though that explains the entire thing. When I say, “Tell us more about what you mean by gravity,” it is often the end of their explaining. Maybe I should say, “What other words can we use to describe what is happening?” To paraphrase Varelas and all: The use of a scientific term does not mean the student understands the concept. Very helpful list of ways to guide meaningful discussion in "[url=http://www.rbaeyc.org/resources/Science_Article.pdf]Science in Kindergarten[/url]" by Ingrid Chalufour and Karen Worth, Reading #56 from the CD accompanying [i]Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8[/i], Third Edition by Carol Copple and Sue Bredekamp, eds. 2009. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children. I'm thinking a lot about how to develop the practice of science talk in early childhood classrooms. Will you visit [url=http://nstacommunities.org/blog/category/earlyyears/]The Early Years blog [/url]and contribute your ideas? Peggy

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
9535 Activity Points

[i]Betty Paulsell, Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:22 AM wrote: One inquiry activity I found that is a great one to use in classrooms is to put an object in a container such as a coffee can or shoe box. Seal up the container and let students figure out what is inside just by listening and moving the container around. This leads to all kinds of inquiry discussion among the students. You can put marbles, rocks, rice, etc. in the container. This can also be done with old film canisters. It's fun to follow that lesson up with another mystery can consisting of a coffee can with a magnet inside ;)

Linda Smith
Linda Smith
3005 Activity Points

When I do inquiry I divide the students into groups. Each person gets a different job: 1 - The PI - Principle Investigator - or Person In Charge... They are in charge of making sure everyone has a turn and is listened to during the experiment. They also get to finalize their experiment design, decide (after listening to all members) who gets to do what in the experiment. The are also the only people who get to talk to me during the experiment. When someone come up to me with a question I say, "Are you a PI?" If they are not, I tell them to go talk to their PI. If they are I answer their questions by asking more questions, 2- The MM - Materials Manager - They are the only ones allowed to go to the supply table to get supplies. They are responsible for making sure their team has everything they need to perform the experiment 3- MD - Maintenance Director - Their job is to identify all material at their table and make sure at the end of the period the materials get back to the supply table in good enough condition for the next class to use them. If anything is broken or damaged they tell the PI so the PI can let me know. 4 - SD Safety Director - This person makes sure that everyone in his group practices safe science. Offenses are reported to the PI who reports to me. All students keep their own notes so they can "write their own textbook" I find this empowers students to take charge of their own inquiry and education.

Linda Smith
Linda Smith
3005 Activity Points

Oooo, Linda, I like the magnet-in-the-can challenge for students who have become very good at guessing what is in the Mystery Box/Can. I’d like to hear more about your class’ work—tell us how the discussions are structured! Does the empowerment they get from doing their assigned job during the activity extend into discussions? Peggy

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
9535 Activity Points

I only have 40 minutes with each class, so we practice speed science. In the best of all possible worlds I would present a query and the students would create a problem on that theme. I don't live in that world, so I create the problem. Students come in and create a lab sheet with their name, date and the problem I have presented on the projector on the wall in front of the room. While I take attendance they are formatting a hypothesis that states what they believe is the answer to the problem question along with a reason why they think so. We share hypothesis together as a class and create one or two in the class lab sheet projected on the wall. As students are finishing their hypothesis I assign groups and assign PI, MM, MD, SD for each group. In their groups they have the option to do the sample hypothesis from the group lab sheet, or if they think they have a better way to prove their hypothesis they may opt to create their own procedure. If they do their own they need to follow these rules: 1. Everything they need to do it their way needs to be available in the classroom 2. All members of the group need to agree with the new procedure 3. The PI needs to convince me that their new procedure will answer the problem question at least as well as the classroom procedure does, and answers the same question we are working with. Students do their experiment. The PI can assign any member to be a spokesman, but every member needs to keep their own notes. All groups report back about their findings and the entire class comes to a conclusion based on discussion from all the groups as to the best answer to the original problem.

Linda Smith
Linda Smith
3005 Activity Points

Linda it sounds like your students have multiple times to talk and discuss while doing "speed science"... sharing the hypothesis together as a class, discussing in their group, if they choose--convincing you that their new procedure is acceptable, reporting back about their findings and a whole class discussion from all the groups. Thanks for sharing the details. Peggy

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
9535 Activity Points

This has been an awesome topic. I wonder if there is a way to respond directly under a person or a different view that can be chosen. It gets complicated sometimes when I have to scroll back up to see what someone was discussing. I teach second and agree that there are various levels of inquiry. I also have practiced "speed science". For me it doesn't work well because I find that the younger kids WANT to talk and share at every stage and they benefit from doing so. When I am pressed to teach in this way it frustrating to me as a teacher because I know students need a lot more time to think and develop understandings. It is also frustrating to the kids because when they are cut off in their thinking or talking they feel their ideas are unimportant and in the end science becomes unimportant. Another administrative hurdle we must jump. I find that students transfer the skills, curiosity and motivation gained in inquiry science to other disciplines. After my students become engaged in full inquiry it is very difficult to move them out of the area they are studying. Typically I let them explore it to their hearts content during our enrichment/intervention block. Here they are given access to print, technology and science resources as well as each other and students in other grades (with a prior appointment). They must when they feel they have reached a conclusion report their findings to the class. The class discusses the findings and sometimes more investigation ensues and sometimes not. For everyone who contributed resources, Thank You! They are awesome resources that I am sure I will share with my colleagues.

Anne Roberts
Anne Roberts
210 Activity Points

I have been thinking about how I might best respond to the situation that Linda and Ann face regularly in having to teach "speed science". First of all I want to ssay, it sounds like you are both doing a phenomenal job creating a positive environment for learning science, and using good instructional strategies. My first instinct was to say maybe the lesson could be done over 2 periods but I believe I have a better idea. Why not include enough reading, writing, speaking and/or listening so you can use literacy time to teach science. by doing that you will also be able to justify that to the powers that be. I know I am talking very generally but I would love to work with an elementary teacher to put together a unit that honors the science but includes enough reading, writing, etc to use that time. Kathy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
34025 Activity Points

[bKathy Renfrew, July 11, 12:30 PM wrote:[/b Why not include enough reading, writing, speaking and/or listening so you can use literacy time to teach science. by doing that you will also be able to justify that to the powers that be. I know I am talking very generally but I would love to work with an elementary teacher to put together a unit that honors the science but includes enough reading, writing, etc to use that time. Kathy, I'm so glad you offered this advice/solution! I think that Ann and Linda have identified a problem that many elementary teachers face; that being that we have so much we want to teach our students, but such a limited amount of time to get everything done. I really liked your suggestion to include science with other subjects! When I was teaching in Florida, we had a 90 minute literacy block everyday. I used the literacy block as an opportunity to engage my students with content-rich texts about science and social studies. It was a fantastic opportunity to teach my students about subjects that sometimes get "pushed" aside. Teaching cross-curricular lessons enables our students to practice reading and writing skills while learning about science and/or social studies. Linda, I really like the way you break your students into specific jobs. I've used this strategy for reading groups, but I hadn't thought to try it for science groups. How do you assign the jobs? Do you rotate the jobs among the students so they experience all of the jobs? Thanks for all of the great ideas! Maureen

Maureen Stover
Maureen Stover
41030 Activity Points

So I have been contemtplating and asking myself what I would see if I walked into an elementary classroom where inquiry science was occurring? These are some of the things I think I might be seeing:


    students looking at something using magnifying glassess
    science meeting ( gathering ideas or making meaning )
    Students talking with their partners
    a teacher listening to students talk
    students recording data in a notebook
    students performing an experiment
    individual students writing their conclusions about the experiment



I am sure I have missed something or maybe someone has a dissenting idea. It is important for us to learn from each other. Please think abou this and make a post.

KAthy

Kathy Renfrew
Kathy Renfrew
34025 Activity Points

Kathy, I think all of your examples highlight the core of inquiry-based learning, that is students are actively engaged in learning and they are taking charge of their learning. One of the things that I love about inquiry in my classroom is my students' creativity to solve a problem. Many times I have an idea of how to solve the problem, but my kids always surprise me with some innovative ways to get to a similar answer. Sometimes their ideas don't go as planned, but this helps my students learn that there is never really a "failure" but rather it's one more step to figuring out how to solve the problem. I have two of Edison's quotes displayed prominently in my classroom: 1. "I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that didn't work" and 2. "I am not discouraged because every idea discarded is another step forward." Maureen

Maureen Stover
Maureen Stover
41030 Activity Points

I like your list Kathy. I would also hope to see some evidence that the documentation and classroom activity are part of an on-going investigation or exploration into a topic or concept. Perhaps some drawings labeled with dates, a calendar of weather observations, notebooks with descriptions of a plant as it grows, a chart showing questions that have been raised and then answered, or a graphic organizer such as a web that has been added to over a period of weeks. Peggy

Peggy Ashbrook
Margaret Ashbrook
9535 Activity Points

I agree with what has been said concerning what inquiry science looks and sounds like in an elementary classroom; however, not having enough time during a typical classroom to explore and complete a lesson is always an issue, I was wondering if any of you have some guidelines on how much time should be allowed for exploring/ experimenting with before students begin the discussion and reflection parts of the lessons?

Rhonda Adams
Rhonda Adams
670 Activity Points

Linda, I love your strategy using speed science and how each person in the group is issued a job! Would love a couple of example problems you created from a theme. Rhonda

Rhonda Adams
Rhonda Adams
670 Activity Points

Kathy, The only thing I thought of was perhaps some student created artifacts they put together as a group when presenting their findings. These artifacts could also be used for a gallery walk with each member of the group getting a chance to present the information. This was demonstrated and used with a group of teachers as well as with myself during a week I spent at the Mickelson Exxon mobile Teacher Academy. It was awesome the way this worked! Rhonda

Rhonda Adams
Rhonda Adams
670 Activity Points

[b]Rhonda Adams, July 19, 2012, 1:16 PM[/b] [i]I was wondering if any of you have some guidelines on how much time should be allowed for exploring/ experimenting with before students begin the discussion and reflection parts of the lessons?[/i] Hi Rhonda, I have run into similar problems with never having enough time! I don't really have any guidelines, per se, for how long I spend on each area of a 5E lesson. The first year I implemented inquiry, my lesson plans had to be revamped nightly because we didn't complete as much during class as I thought we would. When this happened I included notes about the extended amount of time needed, why we needed more time, ways to streamline the process so it didn't take as much time, etc. Each year, my plans get a little more refined, and I am better at judging how long different topics of study will probably take. My goal in inquiry-based learning is to help my students develop their problem solving abilities. I try really hard not to cut lessons short because we run out of time. If learning is still occurring, I will revamp my lesson plans to fit to a new timeline. Here are a couple of ideas that I've tried out over the years to "fit" everything in during the school day: 1. Combine subjects. For instance for science, the students explore and experiment, for reading they read about the concept they are exploring, and for LA they reflect and write in their journals (BTW, I also use this same tactic for social studies). 2. Alternate days for subjects. By alternating days between science and social studies, I am able to devote the same amount of time each week, but I have longer blocks of time to let me students explore. For instance, let's say you normally spend 5 hours a week on science. Instead of having a 1 hour block each day, you can spend 2 hours on Monday to explore, 2 hours, and Wednesday to experiment, and 1 hour on Friday to reflect. I spend 5 hours on Social Studies split between Tuesday and Thursday. The next week, I flip flop the days the subjects are taught on. 3. Explore a topic/theme that extends across your curriculum for several weeks. This gives you ample time to address your requirements for each subject while providing your students with plenty of time to explore. Hopefully these ideas help! Maureen

Maureen Stover
Maureen Stover
41030 Activity Points

Maureen, Thanks so much those ideas were very helpful! Rhonda

Rhonda Adams
Rhonda Adams
670 Activity Points

I love all of the discussions in this thread. When I think of inquiry in my PK classroom, I think of how I can support a classroom of 4 year old children who want to know the answers to their "how", "why", "who", "when", "what", and "where" questions. Their sense of wonder about the world that they live in is just waiting to be stimulated. I always begin the year by setting some goals for myself and for my children. I recently was asked to be a guest blogger on NSTA's Early Years Blog and addressed how I extend the inquiry process (properties of matter)for an entire year, based on goal-setting. To view, go to http://nstacommunities.org/blog/2012/07/18/beginning-the-school-year-with-goals/

Florence Laubenthal
Gail Laubenthal
210 Activity Points

I love all of the discussions in this thread. When I think of inquiry in my PK classroom, I think of how I can support a classroom of 4 year old children who want to know the answers to their "how", "why", "who", "when", "what", and "where" questions. Their sense of wonder about the world that they live in is just waiting to be stimulated. I always begin the year by setting some goals for myself and for my children. I recently was asked to be a guest blogger on NSTA's Early Years Blog and addressed how I extend the inquiry process (properties of matter)for an entire year, based on goal-setting. To view, go to http://nstacommunities.org/blog/2012/07/18/beginning-the-school-year-with-goals/

Florence Laubenthal
Gail Laubenthal
210 Activity Points

Good Morning, I didn't get a chance to fully read all of the post before me so forgive me if i'm repeating anything but my take on inquiry science I took from a reading workshop I went to. I used a from call a FQR or a fact, question response worksheet. As we learn new things in class the students write those facts in the facts column then the write down a question about what we just learned as we read forward or discuss further the students will fill in the response column. I find it helps keep students engaged in the text and improve understanding.

Michael Leslie
Michael Leslie
2110 Activity Points

Hi, When I think of inquiry based learning in general, I think of learning that is based and guided by students' interests. I try to allow both individual inquiry projects and group-based inquiry research projects in my classroom. I like to give a general theme or format (animal adaptations or immigration) for inquiry and see what problems they come up with to solve or what avenues they would like to research on that topic. I then help them to find resources to answer their questions. I would like to incorporate more science experiments into our inquiries, however. I am primarily a language arts specialist, but this year I have been asked to incorporate science content based research into my curriculum by my teaching partner who is our official, grade-level science teacher. I look forward to finding more hands-on activities to aid my students while they are trying to acquire more information about their chosen topics. am particularly looking for ideas on simple machine projects and projects based on the water cycle. I really like the idea of assigning roles in their inquiry groups. I have used assigned roles for book clubs and it has worked well. It's fantastic to see so many great ideas on this website! Aloha, Megan

Megan Rhein
Megan Rhein
500 Activity Points

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers