For example, in the investigation “Different Kinds,” molecules composed of two atoms are made, but for older students you can also introduce bond angles and show how molecules such as water with 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom are combined.
Assessment of individual student achievement is an ongoing thing, but teachers need tangible materials on which to base a student’s grade. For the investigations in this book, I’ve suggested multiple methods of assessment, such as investigative reports (pictorial work from younger students to written reports for older students), models, and other creative expressions of understanding, as well as the traditional paper-and-pencil tests. My advice to teachers is not to let the need for evaluation of student work take the fun out of discovering the wonders of science. Try to balance the free spirit of discovery with the business of recording and sharing scientific finds.
Guidelines for Using Science Investigations Successfully in the Classroom
Review the Teaching Tips
At the beginning of each section there is an overview giving tips for teaching what follows. There is also a list of new terms that will be introduced in that section. For each investigation there are suggestions for preparing materials as well as background information including definition of terms related to the investigation. When applicable, ideas for extended investigations are given.
Get to Know the Investigations
Read each investigation completely before starting, and practice doing the investigation prior to class time. This increases your understanding of the topic and makes you more familiar with the procedure and the materials. If you know the investigation well, it will be easier for you to give instructions, answer questions and expound on the topic.
Investigations follow a general format:
1. Purpose: The goal of the investigation.
2. Materials: A list of necessary supplies (common household items) needed for each individual or group.
3. Procedure: Step-by-step instructions.
4. Results: For some investigations, a data table is provided for students to record their observations. In other investigations, an explanation stating exactly what is expected to happen is given. This is an immediate learning tool. If the expected results are achieved, your students have immediate positive reinforcement. If the results are not the same, encourage them not to change their data. Point out that scientists may not receive expected results, but they always accurately record the results observed. To encourage this, you might devise a rubrics system (an evaluation that rewards students for successfully completing the investigation and not on the correctness of the results.)
5. Why?: Some of the investigations require students to write a conclusion, which can contain questions to be answered from the data collected. Other investigations, have an explanation of why the results were achieved, written in terms students will understand. All unfamiliar terms are bold faced and defined the first time they appear in the text. Each definition is placed in the glossary.
Collect and Organize Supplies Well Ahead of Time
You will be less frustrated and more successful if you have all the necessary materials for the science investigations ready for instant use. Decide whether the students will be doing the science investigation individually or in groups, and calculate from that how much of each material you will need for the class. I prefer to designate a place in the classroom where the supplies will be placed each time a science discovery time is scheduled. I separate the materials and put each type of material in its own box or area of the table. I also provide boxes or trays for the student to use to carry the materials to their work area. You may want to have your student help gather and organize supplies.
|Teaching the Fun of Science|