Klentschy & Thompson – Scaffolding Science Inquiry

I’m sitting in today on a session at one of our elementary schools where the group of teachers is looking deeply at inquiry and how it works at school.  We’ve just been given a copy of Michael Klentschy and Laurie Thompson’s book, Scaffolding Science Inquiry Through Lesson Design and have been asked to take a look at Chapter One and write about our reading.

I have long been interested in Klentschy and others’ work with science notebooks, tools for thinking, questioning, gathering data and making meaning from the data gathered.  I think my blog serves a bit like my science notebook, and I think that blogs could be fine science notebooks for students and teachers to think, question, record observations and use to make meaning from those things, too.  But the first chapter of their book discusses a three-phase approach to lesson planning that’s not a bad model to keep in mind:

Phase 1 – Intended Curriculum – The big ideas that are expected to be taught. (Perhaps standards, benchmarks, big questions)

Phase 2 – Implemented Curriculum – The plan for getting to those big ideas.  In their model, this begins with a focus question, a question that “leads to construction of knowledge about lesson content goals” (page 4).  PRedictions, data collection and recording in a notebook, and making meaning of that data follow.

Phase 3 – Achieved Curriculum – A measure of whether or not what was intended and implemented actually resulted in student learning of those elements and ideas.  The science notebook, as a place to record most of the thinking and questioning and collection that occurred along the way, becomes a big piece of the assessment – and a place to discover where, if it happened, learning went off track.

I think this is a pretty handy way of thinking about lesson design.  It meshes nicely with what I’m learning about Understanding by Design, as well.  Better than either model, though, is the systematic use of the notebook as a place to record and think and write and learn and share.  That’s how learning happens.  We write.  We ask.  We seek.  We discover.   We revise.  We share.  Repeat.

I carry a notebook and also use this space to do those things.  Any approach to learning that helps students to use actual learning tools for realistic reasons is a good step.  It’s much bigger than science, too.  I’m pleased that this school is seeking to use processes and tools across classrooms to model how learning happens.  I’m also pleased to be in the midst of this conversation occurring as teachers write and share with each other, too. Our students need to see teachers engaged in learning using methods similar to the ones they ask their students to use.

Not a bad way to spend the week before school starts back.


Classroom Climate Disruption. Literally.

Jeremy posts an interesting question from a teacher:

I am very concerned about a small group of AP Environmental Science students (3) who have taken an aggressive stand opposing my teaching of climate change. I already teach it from the perspective of “here’s the data, figure it out” but they think that I made the data up. I showed them where it came from (NASA and NOAA) and they think it is a conspiracy by the left wing to infiltrate and brainwash the American public.

Normally, I would let it go but these kids are being disruptive and belligerent to the point that I have had to refer them to the administration.

I feel like there are two things I need to do here:
1) diffuse the situation so that we can move forward
2) create a packet of peer reviewed literature that is understandable for hs students

Does anyone out there have any suggestions?

Science Teacher

There are some very interesting responses, as well as a ton of great links to resources. Worth a click or two.


Friday Night Twilight

    I’ve had a cold all week that’s been slowly taking away my ability to think and to communicate at the same time.  I’ve been striking back as best as I can, but last night, after the very enjoyable fireside chat session with the K12 Online folks, the cold won the battle. 
    I caved and took some cold medicine.  Now, irony of ironies, I can’t sleep, as all of the thinking I was trying to do today was sort of backed up in my brain until now, so I’m learning instead.  So long as there’s no talking, I think my brain can keep up with my typing.  Maybe.
    Thanks to Rick, I spent some time this evening at YouTube.  Here’s a video that pretty much matches our reaction to finding Cathy’s Book on the bookshelf.
    Sean Stewart, one of the authors of Cathy’s Book, has an essay on ARG’s posted at his website on ARG’s.  Since he’s been involved with the artform/genre/mindtrip since the beginning of the artform, I think he counts as an expert.  You should definitely read in its entirety, particularly if you think gaming has a place in schools.
This is a little jumbled, I know, between the cold medicine and the excited synapses going off and fighting for control of my intellect.  Forgive me.  There’s lots of synthesis to do between Stewart’s words and lots of the great conversations going on about how to tell a new story in school.  This might be one of those ways to teach the new story in schools — or I’m mixing my metaphors.  Either way, I blame the virus. 

On the idea of ARG’s not being a new experience, Stewart writes:

By the way, I do NOT assert that the Beast was the first, or greatest,
example of massively multi-player collaborative investigation and
problem solving. Science, as a social activity promoted by the Royal
Society of Newton’s day and persisting to this moment, has a long head
start and a damn fine track record. Not to mention more profound
investigations and way more scandalous gossip.

We just accidentally re-invented Science as pop culture entertainment.

Can you imagine the classroom power of reinventing our content as pop culture entertainment?  Sure, there’s some dangerous ground there — but plenty of potential in there too.
    Feels like the cold’s taking over again — off to rest.  And read.   Before I go, though, I’m curious — how many of you actually dialed the number on the cover (650-266-8233)?  What was your reaction?


Space? I went there this morning.


Ben, or one of his commenters, recently pointed his readers to Celestia, a free space exploration program.  Since I happen to be one of them (his readers, not space exploration programs), I took the opportunity to download the software.  I didn’t do much with it, but I thought it was a neat piece of software for space simulation. 
    Our science teacher today asked me if I could help her put together something for a look at astronomy that she’s doing next quarter.  I recommended Celestia and proceeded to figure out if we could get it onto our school computers.  We can.
    Then I tried to figure out some of the more useful student features.  It didn’t take me long to find out that Celestia is a BIG DEAL.  This site is a ginormous collection of resources, all free, that you can use to customize Celestia.  More better (Yeah, I said "more better."  And I’m an English teacher.  But it really is that good.), some really smart folks have created some really handy educational tours for free consumption and use with students.  Very, very cool.   There are geographical tours as well as lessons on terraforming and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.  Amazing and really well done stuff.
    One note — if you do want to use the educational resources for Celestia (and if you take a peek, you will), make sure that you download the educational version of the program from the Motherlode website.  You need it to make everything work.