Labwork For conceptual understanding

LEARNING GOAL: We are learning how to make practical work meaningful

SUCCESS CRITERIA: I'm looking for critical thinking and engagement with the course reading, demonstrated through products and conversations

"The teachers’ focus in these lessons was predominantly on developing students’ substantive scientific knowledge, rather than on developing understanding of scientific enquiry procedures. Practical work was generally effective in getting students to do what is intended with physical objects, but much less effective in getting them to use the intended scientific ideas to guide their actions and reflect upon the data they collect. There was little evidence that the cognitive challenge of linking observables to ideas is recognized by those who design practical activities for science lessons. Tasks rarely incorporated explicit strategies to help students to make such links, or were presented in class in ways that reflected the size of the learning demand."

Abrahams and Miller

Reading Jigsaw

Split into five groups. Each group takes a section and makes note of 3 key ideas from your section to share with a different group.

  • Intro pp. 1945 to 1947
  • Framework pp. 1947 to 1950
  • Findings pp. 1953 to 1960
  • What students learn pp. 1961 to 1964
  • Conclusions and Implications pp. 1964 to 1967

Get into groups with 1 person from each section. Share your key ideas.

  1. Describe the concept that you are trying to get across with the activity.
  2. List safety considerations.
  3. Design an appropriate pre-lab activity.
  4. Create an Abrahams and Miller chart for lab performance and conceptual understanding. This allows you to intervene easily during the activity with directed questioning to individual students as you circulate.
  5. Develop a Marking Scheme for the activity.

Marking Scheme points to consider:

  • If you end at 13 marks, you may be tempted to "find” 2 marks in order to make this a "round” number but it is not really necessary given that we will use a computer program to do the calculation of final marks.
  • With any lab activity, one should ask if it is worth handing in a full lab report.
  • Sometimes an observations chart and answering the questions (Obs and Qs) is enough.
  • If it is early in the course and this is college prep (students can go straight from grade 10 science to this course or they may not have taken a science course in 2 years), it might make sense to use this simple lab as an opportunity to review what is required for full lab reports. That way, when a more difficult lab is being done, learning how to write a lab report would not be one more intellectual burden.

Consider a practical activity that you will include in your assessment plan. Work through the steps above for that activity.

Homework for Friday: scan Growing Success again, especially evaluation from pages 37 to 46.

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