Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Mastering Scientific Practices with Technology, Part 3

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Mastering Scientific Practices with Technology, Part 3

Article excerpt

In the past two issues, we have examined how technology can help students master the science practices described in the Next Generation Science Standards. This month, we conclude by focusing on the final set of practices.

Engaging in Argument From Evidence

Student use of evidence can sometimes be disconnected from the conclusions students draw from scientific inquiry. As we said last month when addressing a different practice, the formatting tools found in any word processor can help. Have students underline their scientific claims and boldface their evidence when writing their conclusions. This makes it obvious when claims lack support. Also have students share their evidence-based work in Google Docs (https://docs.google. com), where classmates can add comments and corrections. The student can review the changes that his peers made at the click of a button (https://goo.gl/JaFKBo).

As students design and conduct experiments, they will move beyond the procedural steps to focus on how to analyze their findings. We've often recommended using graphic organizers to manage the calculations, graphs, and perhaps other forms of evidence. To support this process, teachers can create templates that have color-coded sections for students to document the procedure, analysis, and expected evidence. An open-source tool that offers a platform to help students work through experiments is the Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE) (https://wise.berkeley.edu/). It has tools for drawing, graphing, and concept mapping and offers online discussions with peers and feedback from the teacher.

Culminating the analysis of evidence should be a valid explanation for the observed phenomenon. Students should review each other's explanations and decide which reaches the most sound conclusion. You can facilitate this with an online gallery walk using Voicethread (http://voicethread.comf). It allows the teacher to upload student work in almost any format--videos, PowerPoint, PDFs, and so on. Students can then review classmates' work, commenting via text, voice, or video. Another option is to use a voting tool such as StickyMoose (www.stickymoose.com) to help students determine the best explanations. …

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