Question Formation Technique (QFT)
One of the best ways to teach science is to have students start by asking questions. The questions can be generated from a prompt, a news article they read, a demonstration, or their observations. QFT is a way to hone those student questions into a product that can be used to do background research, or experimentation. Experimentation questions have to include a variable you want to test the effect of (independent variable) and a way to measure that affect (dependent variable). Sometimes they can include a method for that measurement, or an implication of the impact. Background research questions are often open-ended and have to be split into smaller questions, phrases or keywords and names to search.
Phenomena Based Teaching (PBT)
Phenomena based teaching is highly effective, and works well because students are immediately engaged in an activity that is counter to what they expect. A phenomena is something interesting or unexpected that happens, and this provides an immediate response to try to explain it. The students then spend the bulk of their unit trying to tie everything they learn back to explain the original phenomena, often by way of modelling, and argumentation. Modeling helps students visualize what isn’t visible, and argumentation helps because the students have to use evidence from their learning to justify their explanation. This is vital to the way science operates. Especially in today’s world with ubiquitous information from nearly infinite sources, and the fake news phenomena, and ever present bias, and propaganda, sourcing credible information and data is vital.
Problem-Based Learning (PBL)
This is my ideal method of teaching for this unit. I want to start with a problem in the new haven watershed, and have students be inspired and driven to action to help correct the problem. Either through educating the public, advocating with a political figure, or developing and proposing a designed solution to the problem directly, or implementing a plan to change self-habits, actually solving a real problem in your immediate surroundings is an empowering thing. This is especially important for disenfranchised populations, like the bulk of the students in my school, at least when it comes to science. Since the bulk of the content in this class is tied to the human impact on climate change, it only makes sense that we should be figuring out ways to undo that impact. And starting with students in high school, who will soon be young adults, makes a lot of sense, not just for their education, and career, and opportunities to use a STEM career to get out of their economic predicament, but to help get the Earth out of its environmental predicament.
Inquiry Based Learning
Inquiry based learning, doing labs, analyzing data to write conclusions, and asking questions based on data trends and discrepancies is a very effective way to teach science, it dovetails nicely with any science content. And allows students to justify taking measurement in class, and putting them into use, hopefully to change their thinking and prior knowledge.
The 5E Model:
Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. This method of teaching has been proven in research studies to break down educational barriers in underperforming demographics and to increase student engagement in science. It works really well because you start with something interesting (Engage), you dive in deep and try to get as much understanding of that thing as you can (Explore). Then you use what you’ve gathered to try to Explain what’s going on. You then dive deeper, and get more details (Elaborate), and lastly you reflect upon the process, what you’ve learned, what questions you still have, and what your next steps are (Evaluate).
Formative Assessment Probes
Probes are a great way to elicit student understanding, prior knowledge and thinking, and help students start meaningful conversations about science. In the absence of data, students will use anecdotes to justify their current thinking. This allows them to begin the process of argumentation, and to start debating, and questioning each other’s thinking. It builds skepticism, and that creates an intellectual impeditive for data. Once that exists, getting students to do research or design experiment is easy, because they want to prove they are right.