We have developed materials for use in science classes, including activities to introduce students to key scientific practices, full curriculum units on life science topics, and performance assessments. Our curriculum focus is middle-school life science. But our introductory materials and the scaffolds we have developed may be useful to educators and researchers focused on other grade levels and science disciplines.
All of our units engage students in scientific practices as they learn content and cross-cutting ideas. The practices include (1) asking questions; (2) designing and planning investigations, (3) developing, revising, and/or evaluating explanatory models based on evidence; (4) developing and evaluating arguments; (5) analyzing, evaluating, and interpreting data and evidence; (6) communicating ideas.
Our introductory activities introduce students to key practices and scaffolds including modeling, criteria for good models, and the Model-Evidence Link matrix.
This section provides downloadable materials from our units on cells, genetics, and natural selection. Our units span 4 to 7 weeks (with 40-minute classes) and include 6 to 9 lessons.
We have developed a variety of performance assessments, ranging from one to seven class periods, to assess students’ competencies in scientific practices.