One of the most powerful tools within the Discovery Education Science Techbook is the Scientific Explanations Worksheet, which can be found under the Explain Tab within each concept. This amazing tools provides a unique insight into the thought process of our students while providing students the opportunity to analyze and interpret data to construct meaning out of the data. In this post we will walk through the process of utilizing the Scientific Explanations during a study of the concept of What is Energy? If you or your students are new to this process I would recommend modeling the process first so that students have a firm understanding of the expectations. Once you and your students have a firm understanding of the process and the student expectations you are ready to begin.
In my example, I have a class studying “What is Energy?” I would begin by putting the Essential Questions on the board, which can be found in the model lesson, to assist my students in developing a framework for the questions they will develop and to focus their attention on specific learning expectations. I would then lead my typical science lesson on the concept “What is Energy?” through the Engage and Explore Activities. In this example, I have had my students complete the Hands-On Activity Energy in the Classroom for my Engage activity.
Before we begin the Explore activity I would provide the students with the Scientific Explanation Worksheet to help focus the students as they review the materials. For the Explore activity my students viewed a variety of glossary terms, video segments, and completed the Exploration Forms of Energy that were provided to them through an assignment I created using the Assignment Builder. I then handed my students the Scientific Explanations and broke them into groups of 4-5 students.
In their small groups they developed their own questions based on what they have learned about Energy so far and these questions are entered into the Scientific Explanations worksheet . The groups then work with content we have already explored and the additional resources to provide evidence or information they have learned from the resources we have already explored. The evidence must reference the resources and cannot come from their memory or past experiences.
The next step to for the group to state a claim based on their evidence that answers their initial question. The claim must be supported by either resources already used or by additional resources. These supporting resources serve as the justification and shows why the data is relevant and how they support the claim; it should include appropriate scientific principles and vocabulary.
The next step would be to have students conduct a gallery walk, where they review the questions questions, claims and reasoning from the other groups. This provides students with additional evidence and insights into other points of view on a given concept. The final step would be for students to return to their small groups and review their initial claim, based on the new information they received from the gallery walk.
The Scientific Explanation should not be a one time only, but rather a foundation building that should be done often enough to provide students with a refined image of science and scientists as well as enhance student understanding of the nature of science.