One of the best resources I found for scientific inquiry and scientific method is called "The Truth About Science" by NSTA Press. It is geared for grades 4-8 and was FABULOUS to help us have a structure for science fair, which was required for all 6th-8th graders. Truthfully though, I have used the section on data analysis and conclusion writing for my seniors in advanced physics as well. I can see this being a great fit for a flipped class. It seems like my 7th graders then were better at identifying variables than the advanced students I work with now in AP Chem and physics who never had this training.
The next best thing was what I call "The Sticky Note Lab Report" (attached), which I pilfered at a conference and have used for every grade level, K-12, and even at teacher workshops. You can use the whole form or just parts of it, but it helps to distinguish IV and DV. In this attachment, the form I use starts on p. 11 and continues through p. 18
LOVED the sticky note idea!!! what a great way to visually see the difference between variables and how all the other variables have to stay constant. This is the best help tool for variables I've seen in years.
Hello fellow science teacher!
I feel your pain because I feel like inquiry is a tough thing to teach as well. For me, it seems like such a natural process, but I know that a lot of my students struggle with those concepts. I piloted the flipped classroom with 1 class last year, but this year, I will be using it with four sections starting at the beginning of the year. I think I'm going to make a video for my students walking them through a mini lab setting giving some vocab and general expectations that I have for them during labs as my first assigned video. I haven't seen a good video (yet) that encompasses this for the middle school level, so I'm going to make my own! I am new to camtasia, so I'm excited to try out some of the features that the program has to help me with this. And for me, review, review, review those variables in a variety of labs and different situations. Good Luck!
Amber, I'd be interested in your video when your done.
I'm going to try something different this year. I took a Project Based Learning (PBL) workshop this summer and will be using it as my opening lesson for the year. Because the first unit of the school year is Earth Science and we will be looking at Mars in particular, I will be teaching the scientific method and inquiry by comparing and contrasting Earth with Mars. So, my first 2 weeks of the year will cover why there is life here and not there and what part WATER plays in that. We will look at what it takes to be a scientist, asking questions, researching, etc. My PBL is actually 12 weeks long broken up into 2 -3 mini units throughout the year (we'll keep coming back to comparing and contrasting water's role on the two planets and looking at some real time data hopefully as the new rover lands in a few days) Should be interesting.
I suggest finding something they can relate to and using that as the foundation of your lesson.
Chevin: I love this idea. I see PBL as working hand-hand with the flipped class model. Keep up the good work!!!
NASA has some excellent PBL resources on thier CuriosityMars education link. I would be interested in your unit when you get it going.
In Manhattan Ill we make this a three year process. They have a Sci Method unit all three years. I'm the 8th grade teacher and I have done everything from let them pick their own mandatory "sci fair" project, which was a real headache having 175 different projects. Then I did one project with all 175. I used self propelled boat building and roller coasters that most of the students loved . One exp for all tended to lock them in and I had several passive learners. Last year, I created 6 topic areas and had students pick their favorite. Then I made groups based on their pick. In groups they chose their research project. This meant only 6 projects per class which was much more managable. It was easier to get them through the Review of Lit too because each group member was responsible for 2 sources and they shared the sources to write individual reports. Since we had six projects per class, classmates became their first audience. Hope this helps.
We break down the processes within the scientific method...So, for example:
Day 1 (at home): Kids watch (as homework) video #1 on what is a problem statement (they also take notes while watching the video)
Day 2 (at school): Kids come in and we discuss the notes and questions they have...We then begin to construct their investigation(s) by having them individually (or as small groups) create problem statements...we critique the statements (what is good/bad, etc. about the statements)...We begin to write our "official" problem statement...
Day 2 (at home): Kids watch (as homework) video #2 on what a hypothesis is (they also take notes while watching the video)
The order continues and if time provides itself we will cover two or more things in class (or at home as well)...
This provides us the time to work with the kids, provide feedback, and practice writing a report...