Thursday, August 30, 2012

Inquiry & Science Professional Development

As some of you know I recently was lucky enough to attend the NSTA's conference in Indianapolis this past March. To read more about the sessions I attended, including the great one I mentioned at staff development yesterday (where the anchor charts came from) here.

Yesterday I presented at our district-wide professional development. The big buzz in science right now, both at NSTA and the Virginia Department of Education's summer institute is inquiry. Teaching science as inquiry can be very exciting for the students, but often overwhelms teachers. Especially elementary teachers who may already be pressed for time. My presentation touches on a few tips to move your science classroom more towards inquiry:

1. Consider starting off each science unit with an inquiry lesson. This will not only hook your students and make the rest of the unit more interesting, but you will also get great data on where your kids currently are with that standard.

2. Encourage dialogue during science. Children often learn best from each other, so give them a lot of opportunities to move around and talk their ideas out with each other. This may require some modeling, especially for K-2 classrooms.

3. Teach children how to use their evidence (or data) to explain what they have learned. In other words ask children why they think what they think and model how to back up your answers with what you experienced in the inquiry project.

4. Remember that inquiry is not appropriate for all standards of learning. Also, just because something is hands on, doesn't mean inquiry is happening.

If you'd like more information on inquiry and science or you were at my presentation and wanted a copy of the slides and resources, you can download them here.

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