Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

## Teacher-TalkInquiry

Teacher-TalkInquiry is the email discussion list for Learning Science Through Inquiry. Participants in the workshops, content guides, and Channel staff will participate in this discussion list throughout the broadcast of the workshop series.

Use this space as an area to share information and pose questions about the workshop series, get to know your colleagues, as well as ask questions about technical and access issues.

To post a question or reply, you can send an email to [email protected].

From: Bernie Terrien ([email protected])
Date: Fri Mar 09 2001 - 00:20:50 EST

• Next message: Stine, Annette: "[Teacher-talkinquiry] management of group discussions"

David and Jennifer,

I am not sure if I am using this "chat-thing" correctly so please drop me a
note to let me know if this worked.

In my 9th grade physical science class I have found that "guided inquiry"
has helped me to "maintain some control" and or provide "focus." This topic
is excellently discussed in session three. I found the best primary source
for this type of inquiry is no primary source. I have stopped handing out
worksheets or lab sheets completely. I simply ask the kids to get out their
notebooks and open it up to a clean sheet of paper. I explain the
investigation that we are going to do for the day, I ask them to title their
papers, make a hypothesis, and design a data table to collect their data. I
then explain the procedure we are going to use to proceed with our
investigation, or show the students the equipment and ask them to design
their own experiment making sure to pay attention to the control if we need
one, list the independent variable, and the dependent variable, and then
proceed to collect their data. Some times this is very guided, sometimes
slightly guided, and rarely completely unguided. Let me give you some
examples.

At the beginning of the year when we are discussing measurements and
physical properties I do this activity which I call the paper towel lab.

I tell the students that our task today is to figure out which brand of
paper towel holds the most water or is the most absorbent. We brainstorm
different ways that this could be determined: mass difference before and
after saturation of one square, squeezing the water out of the paper towel
into a graduated cylinder after saturation, measuring the amount of water in
the pan before we dip the towel square in it and after the towel has been
saturated and removed, etc.. The students groups are then set free to
choose their method and perform their experiment. They collect their data,
make their conclusions and discuss any difficulties they may have had either
during their experiment or in making their conclusion or both. We then
discuss significant differences and the validity of their conclusions. This
can also lead to spin off investigations involving math such as, which towel
brand gives you the best economic value per milliliter or gram of water
absorbed.

I also do a similar measuring lab involving which brand of bubble gum blows
the best bubbles.

As we proceed through the year I use a similar format to investigate more
formal topics in science. For example, when discussing Charles Gas Law or
Thermal Expansion I inform the kids that today we will be investigating the
relationship between the volume of a gas and the temperature of a gas. I
show them the lab stations have a beaker of boiling water and a bucket full
of ice and a small balloon. I inform them that they are to blow the balloon
up, and take the diameter of the balloon with a digital calipers. They are
then instructed to hang the balloon over the boiling water for 3-5 minutes
and quickly measure its diameter again. Immediately they are to throw the
balloon into the bucket of ice for 3-5 minutes after which they take a
diameter measurement again. They are asked to make a data table, identify
the control, independent variable and dependent variable, make a hypothesis,
and then proceed with their data collection and conclusion. After the
experiment I have a lab report format they follow. After the reports are
finished I tell them they have discovered thermal expansion and Charles' Gas
Law and we discuss real life applications of this phenomenon.

I proceed through the year in this fashion trying to get the kids to first
discover phenomenon and relationships i.e. friction labs, Boyles Gas Law
labs, etc..

I have been dabbling in such inquiry attempts for a few years and it seems
to make the kids feel like they are "discovering" things like scientist.
It's by no means a perfect example of inquiry and it is a continuous work in

Depending on the difficulty of the concepts, I use all degrees of
"guidedness."

David Pruden, I couldn't agree with you more about the difference between
"hands on" and "minds on" science activities. I see you have been reading
the National Science Education Standards too. I would like to know more
about the Research for Better Teaching's Activators and Summarizers.

Peace,
Bernie Terrien
[email protected]
Green Bay Southwest High School
Green Bay, WI
-----Original Message-----
From: Jennifer Cronin <[email protected]>
To: [email protected] <[email protected]>
Date: Thursday, March 08, 2001 6:22 AM
Subject: Re: [Teacher-talkinquiry] reflection on first session

>David, I too was wondering what specifically I could apply to my curriculum
as a 7th grade life science teacher. The first video focused on the lower
elementary grade levels. What about the older kids? How does inquiry work
with students who are old enough to know that they have a choice in whether
or not to "buy in" to a class? I can forsee great
>participation in the kids who are intrinsically motivated, but what about
the other kids who just don't care?
>
>Jennifer Cronin
>Spokane, WA
>
>David Pruden wrote:
>
>> One question I am asking myself after the first session is: Why might
>> students misbehave and/or be bored with the hands on science I am
providing?
>>
>> One answer to this may be that the science is hands on, but not as minds
on.
>> These students are very familiar with having their hands on and
>> investigating, but because the investigations are pre-planned and very
>> structured maybe the activities are not as intriguing to the students.
>> Maybe the students see the investigations as simply activities, and not
>> scientific exploration. If students were struggling with their own ideas
>> and searching for answers to their own questions maybe I would have more
>> in in my classroom.
>>
>> I have been using Research for Better Teaching's Activators and
Summarizers
>> activities with my students to try and keep them mentally engaged with
the
>> learning. Having students discuss ideas and summarize in their own words
>> will hopefully allow them to own the concepts.
>>
>> How do I get them asking their own questions? That question is eating at
me
>> (in a healthy way). And them how do I allow them to investigate those
>> questions in the confines of the classroom, materials, timeframe, etc?
>>
>> What primary sources can I use in my 6th grade classroom for physical
>> science topics such as matter, mixtures and solutions and motion?
>> The first grade classroom in the first video is a terrific example, but
what
>> about physical science in 6th grade? What are the primary sources
availible
>> for my students? newspapers, biographies of scientists, reference books?
>>
>> just some ideas from my first session...
>>
>> david pruden
>> topsfield, ma
>> _________________________________________________________________
>>
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