Visualizing Science Using the Roundhouse Diagramby: Robin E. Ward and James Wandersee

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At the middle school level, science instruction becomes complicated by difficult vocabulary and complex, often abstract, notions (Jones and McEwin, 1983). To learn science, students must understand key concepts through reasoning, searching out related concepts, and making connections within multiple systems. Teachers need to encourage connection-focused learning, especially in the complex web of science, where each system is linked to many other sub-systems. The Roundhouse diagram is an effective way to use these constructivist principles in the classroom to improve student understanding of integrated science content.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Fri Dec 19, 2014 12:45 PM

Graphic organizers have always been used to summarize important concepts and make learning more organized. This article utilizes a particular one called the Roundhouse. This article provides the template for this diagram, examples of how it is used and a complete explanation of the parts and the interrelationship between them. There is also a mastery checklist for this particular tool. It seems like a great idea for elementary students and could also be applied to middle school students as well.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:52 PM

I really like this idea, and I will incorporate this idea into my interactive science notebook next year. The diagram forces the students to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the content, if they are completing it properly. I could see how this might be difficult for students to complete at first. Yet with enough support, students will eventually gain an understanding of the work required. I am considering requiring less of the pie sections to be completed at first, or perhaps providing guided assistance with "sub titles" for each section to start. The roundhouse would be a highly defined way for students to complete "left side" reflections in their interactive notebooks. I will make copies and have students glue completed worksheets into their notebooks. I am looking forward to completing this activity with my students.

Susanne Hokkanen  (Orland Park, IL)
Susanne Hokkanen (Orland Park, IL)

  • on Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:05 AM

The author suggests that students create their own visual and textual graphics to help them to link science concepts to a main idea or theory. While this presents students with an opportunity to draw themselves, this could easily be translated to an electronic format as well. However, I think it is probably a more powerful learning tool as it is. While I have students diagram and summarize, I had not thought about doing it this way and I can see how it would be helpful in developing connections.

Tina Harris  (Fairmount, IN)
Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN)

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