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No. 70 – A Great Approach for Teaching Science

May 2, 2012

Some time ago the Supervisor of Montgomery County, MD Science Teachers explained that science curricula are based on The Five E’s for Teaching Science as described below.

Engage – Use activities that will focus student’s attention, stimulate their thinking, and access prior knowledge. Such activities could include demonstrations, reading, or brainstorming. The teacher’s role is to raise questions and uncover what students already know about the subject. Students are encouraged to ask questions, such as, “What do I already know about this subject?”

Explore – Use activities that give students time to think, investigate, test, make decisions, problem solve, and collect information. Such activities could include performing an investigation, reading authentic resources, or solving a problem. The teacher’s role is to encourage students to work together, to observe and listen as students interact, and to ask probing questions. Students are encouraged to think freely within the limits of the activity and to test predictions.

Explain – Use activities that allow students to analyze their exploration. Activities include student analysis and explanation, supporting ideas with evidence, reading and discussion, and thinking skill activities. The teacher’s role is to encourage students to explain in their own words, to ask for justification (evidence) and clarification from students, to formally provide explanations, and to use student’s previous experience as a basis for explaining concepts. Students are encouraged to explain possible solutions or answers to others.

Extend – Use activities that expand student thinking to real world situations. Such activities include problem solving, experimental inquiry, and thinking skill activities that include comparing, classifying, and applying. The teacher’s role is to encourage students to use formal definitions and explanations provided previously, and to apply the concepts and skills to new situations. Students are encouraged to apply new labels, definitions, and explanations, and to use previous information.

Evaluate – Use activities that allow the teacher to assess student performance and understanding of concepts, skills, processes, and applications. Such activities include testing or performance assessment. The teacher’s role is to observe students as they apply new concepts, assess student’s knowledge and skills, look for evidence that the students have changed their thinking or behaviors. The student is encouraged to ask open-ended questions by using observations, evidence, and previously accepted explanations, to demonstrate an understanding of the concepts.

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