I just finished a book called Questions, Claims, and Evidence (K-6) and I have started Negotiating Science (5-10), which is authored by two of the same authors for Questions, Claims, and Evidence. There is definitely overlap and actually some of the passages are the same, which is fine by me. These books are about the Science Writing Heuristic, or SWH. It is basically a framework to guide student learning and it is a student-led process. I used this framework for a couple of years when I taught HS, but since moving in JH, I have mostly abandoned it for many reasons. I am looking to start bringing it back into the classroom this school year. SWH has several components and here is a video clip I found from a school district in my state that gives a nice overview: SWH Overview .
Prior to starting a unit, the teacher examines what the big idea is. Big ideas are things like: a force is a push or pull or the Earth is part of a larger system. From there, students' conceptions of the big idea need to be elicited during the Beginning Ideas stage. This can be done in several ways, using a discrepant event, watching a video clip, a pre-test or probe, a lab activity etc. Another part of this process has students making their own concept maps, sometimes making a group map or working to make a class map. These maps can be a great tracker of student growth, as students are often asked to complete another map at the completion of the unit. Gathering this information is helpful for the teacher, but also gives the students a platform to start asking questions. In small teams, students can suggest these questions, which will get separated out in testable questions and researchable questions. Students can be given certain parameters which may limit some of the testable questions, but different groups can investigate questions of interest that will tie back into the big idea.
Integrating concept mapping is something that I have been wanting to do for some time, so I am excited to try this out at least with some of our units.
Stay tuned: I plan to write more about this topic soon!