Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Reading in Science

Understanding Sequenced Methods and Procedures

Many science experiments involve complex laboratory procedures that must be done in the right order to work properly. Procedures and methods are an important part of scientific research reports because they provide detail on exactly how the data were obtained and allow other scientists to replicate the results. Students also have to follow carefully sequenced directions to do their own lab work. Like so many things, following a detailed, even tedious set of directions is easier to do the more you know. Because of time constraints, there is understandable pressure to just get students to follow the directions and achieve the intended results for an experiment. However, it is much better for students to understand why they are doing certain procedures and why doing them in order matters. If they understand why they are doing something, they are more likely to retain what they’ve learned and be able to apply the principle in another context. Sequenced procedures are another opportunity for inquiry, for peer interactions, and to build vocabulary.

Video and Reflection: Watch Making Observations Like a Scientist to see how a 7th grade science teacher stimulates students to ask questions while learning technical vocabulary and carefully following sequenced instructions. You may want to take notes on the questions below.

  • Before you watch: Think about the ways in which following a lab procedure is similar and different from following a cooking recipe.
  • Watch the video: As you watch, think about the importance for students to generate their own questions. What is the effect of hands-on experience on developing literacy skills?


Making Observations Like a Scientist

Catherine Rohrbaugh teaches students how to take notes and analyze text across different content areas to foster independent learning. 

Teacher: Catherine Rohrbaugh

School: Dillard Drive Middle School, Raleigh, NC

Grade: 7

Discipline: Science

Lesson Topic: Creating a wet-mount slide

Lesson Month: November

Number of Students: 28

  • Reflect: To what extent do you think jargon and challenging technical vocabulary get in the way of literacy versus provide a deeper understanding of concepts?