Saturday, November 21, 2015

Force & Motion: Using Gradual Release to Foster Independence: WritingScientific Claims

So as you know, if you've checked out my blog this year, I am teaching Science and Social Studies this year, while Robyn is teaching ELA. At first I was in shock and I think I actually cried about it, now I am SO thankful for the change. It is a whole different way of thinking and teaching and I love learning right along with the students. This subject area switch was a huge change for me since  I had to replan lessons, units, and my year. We teach Science everyday for a unit and then move on to Social Studies for a unit. This allows us to get the most 'bang for our buck'. ;)

So anyways...this year we started a book study reading the book, What's Your Evidence? Engaging K-5 Students in Constructing Explanations in Science and it has been super helpful. We are trying to get our students to write independent scientific explanations using data from investigations. We are focusing on writing using a claim, evidence, reasoning frame. My favorite part is writing about and understanding a scientific principle because it really shows student understanding. We started testing out some techniques in class last week and my students have taken off with the idea and are doing amazing. They are so engaged and it is showing in their awesome explanations.

Today I am going to quickly talk to you about claim writing. Now obviously I am no expert since this is my first year teaching this way, but after teaching my three fourth grade classes while using this method, I feel like I know a thing or two. So here is how my experience has been going. 

I am a firm believer in that the more effort you put into explaining a new concept, format, or expectation, the better your students will preform when completing a task independently. Basically, the more time you put into your teaching, the better quality work you will see. Therefore, I started teaching the scientific explanation over a number of days. I want to make sure my students actually take the time to understand what a claim is. I want them to be able to put Science into their own “kid terms” and use evidence and scientific principles to back up their investigations. did an investigation call the Box Push, which an be found in my new product. It includes three different scientific investigations on Force and Motion, lab write ups, explanation answer frames, scientific principle lists, and example anchor charts! I am super excited about this product because it has changed my life as a science teacher making me feel more confident and successful while teaching.

For the Box Push Scientific Explanation, we started with groups of students developing claims. We discussed the word claim and came up with a definition of- “Your own words of what the investigation was trying to prove.” I created a list of all the claims the groups reported. After listing each group’s claim on the board, we talked about them. Were they in kid friendly terms? Were they directly related to the investigation? Were they too similar to a scientific principle (scientific principles are on a bulletin board in my classroom, they change depending on the standard we are working on)?
Each group then had a chance to vote on a claim to use and explain why they would use it. I was happy to see that most groups even changed their answers after they listened to the others. In the example above, the most popular claim was: The more people applying force, through a push on an object, the father is should travel, in a given amount of time. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Once students felt comfortable with a claim, they wrote it down on their answer sheet. They then started to analyze the evidence. Although we completed this investigation a few weeks ago, I gave them fake evidence, so we would all have the same data.

I hope this helped you think about Science in a different way. I always tell my class, "Great scientists need to write down their data and information clearly and specifically so other scientists can repeat and learn from their investigations." My students LOVE Science class and come in ready to explore, investigate, collaborate, and learn.

Come back tomorrow to learn how we use data, inferences, and collaboration to write about our evidence! 

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