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Chapter 5 Empowering Students to Think Like Scientists

Maria C. Grant Solution Tree Press ePub

Purposeful instruction involves continually reviewing and revising a plan of action designed to accommodate growth in student learning. Alterations to instructional plans result from an ongoing assessment of each student’s performance as related to predetermined goals that are aligned with state and national standards. Assessments of performance are collected as teachers listen to students’ answers to questions and to their conversations with peers, read their written work, and observe multiple other forms of presentation of their thinking. While varied, students’ performances offer teachers opportunities to assess what is being learned and what additional instruction needs to occur. Insightful teachers link learning, instruction, and assessment for each student.

Interest in the assessment of science performance among students in the United States continues to be of major concern since the publication of findings from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA; National Center for Education Statistics, 2009), which compared the performance in reading, math, and science literacy of fifteen-year-old students in the United States with students of the same age from sixty-five countries. When compared with students in the thirty-four member countries that represent the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), findings indicate that U.S. students performed about average in reading, with a ranking of fourteenth; average in science, with a ranking of seventeenth; and below average in math, with a ranking of twenty-fifth. While these scores do show increases from PISA studies conducted in 2003 and 2006, the 2009 U.S. scores lagged behind other leading countries, such as South Korea, Singapore, China (Hong Kong and Shanghai), Finland, and Canada.

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Chapter 2: Finding Information: The Eternal Search

Nancy Frey Solution Tree Press ePub

There is more information at our fingertips today than ever before. Remember doing a research project in high school? You had to physically go to the library and search the card catalog. Then you had to find the green books, Guides to Periodicals, to see where the journals you wanted were located (if your library had them). For example, Doug remembers an assignment from tenth grade related to World War I. The teacher wanted personal accounts of people who lived through the war, as well as factual information regarding the war. Doug went to the card catalog and looked up the subject “World War I.” There were several entries, and Doug hunted each of them down. Some were useful for his paper, but most were not. Doug used an ineffective search strategy that consumed a lot of time.

Sound familiar? While the tools students use today to search for information have changed, the strategies they use have not. As their teachers, we have to instruct them in conducting effective information searches. This chapter will focus on efforts to help students locate information. But literacy 2.0 requires more than an effective search strategy. Unlike the sources Doug would have found from the card catalog, the Internet provides students with unfiltered information. Spurious screeds sit alongside valid information. Accordingly, we also have to teach students how to evaluate the information they find. The gatekeepers of information from the past no longer exert their control over what students find, and this presents additional challenges for the 21st century teacher.

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Appendix Reproducibles

Maria C. Grant Solution Tree Press ePub

Visit go.solution-tree.com/commoncore to download the reproducibles in this book.

 

Collaborative Guidesheet

Use this collaborative guidesheet to scaffold the inquiry process of thinking, planning, and investigating.

Teaching Students to Think Like Scientists © 2014 Solution Tree Press • solution-tree.com Visit go.solution-tree.com/commoncore to download this page.

 

Personal Investigation Journal

Using pictures and words, students can note here the results of their study of a topic.

Teaching Students to Think Like Scientists © 2014 Solution Tree Press • solution-tree.com Visit go.solution-tree.com/commoncore to download this page.

 

Oral Reading Fluency

To assess a reader’s fluency when reading a specific text, invite him or her to orally read for one minute. As the student reads, note any words miscalled or skipped. Subtract this number from the total number of words read to get the oral reading rate. Use the key to determine the student’s grade level. The data will help you plan both homogeneous and heterogeneous reading groups.

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Chapter 3 Analyzing and Discussing Narrative Texts

Douglas Fisher Solution Tree Press ePub

“I CAN JUST PICTURE THIS. There’s our main man, Romeo, standing on the street. He’s talking with Juliet, but she doesn’t know who’s talking. I know this because he says, ’My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself/Because it is an enemy to thee,’ and I’m thinking that he doesn’t want to be recognized because of the family problems. He wants to talk with her, but he knows that he can’t. How would you feel if you wanted to tell someone that you liked them but were afraid to?” asks ninth-grade English teacher Cindy Lin. The students immediately turn to one another and make a text-to-self connection, which redirects the focal point from Romeo and Juliet to the students’ life experiences:

JUAN:

I had that happen to me. I didn’t want to talk to the parents because they didn’t like me, maybe because I’m Mexican.

ALLISON:

Really? I thought it was just me. For me, it was because of my hair. Remember when I dyed it bright red?

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Chapter 2 Learning to Talk Like a Scientist

Maria C. Grant Solution Tree Press ePub

Consider the amount of information we convey and receive through oral language—from offering simple directions to a lost driver to hearing a presidential inauguration speech. In each case, one person’s thoughts and ideas transmit to another person through the use of words pieced together into meaningful sentences and phrases. While colloquial, informal language is perfectly acceptable for casual situations, we need precise terminology and well-crafted expressions of thought to convey academic and scholarly ideas accurately and articulately. We know that we learn everyday conversational speech on the playground and at home. The acquisition of school talk, however, requires thoughtful, well-planned instruction that targets the attainment and use of academic and domain-specific language. The goal is for students to become productive participants in conversations that center on real-world issues of information and concern. This means not only speaking about events of note but also possessing the skill of actively listening so that both argument and agreement can be part of the response.

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