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Active Since: August 14, 2018
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Replies Created: 13

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Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
  • Sylvia
    Participant
    Sylvia_Qualls
    For any level of inquiry-based project there does need to be formative, reflective and summative assessment. In initially starting out with any level of inquiry project formative assessment is helpful as a way to guide, support and help students understand what they are doing and how to frame it within the scope of an inquiry report. This means learning about the different facets of an inquiry project, documentation and how the entirety of the project is submitted as a project report. There is a lot of similarity to what is presentation for science fair projects. When students are initially taking up these types of projects I think it is important to have them engage in a reflective  self-assessment as a way of identifying their perception of how they think they did in terms of the rubric, what they did well, where they need to improve and what they learned through this process. I really like to create rubrics with students which often means they are a work in progress, but at the same time there are essentials that are part of the inquiry process and the variation in assessment may depend on the type of inquiry students engage in i.e. confirmation inquiry, structured inquiry, guided inquiry, or open inquiry. The elements of the rubric and assessment may differ in how they reflect any of these given types of inquiry. Also, this is a process that I want to be meaningful for my students to help them understand what is included and how to go about creating that.
  • Sylvia
    Participant
    Sylvia_Qualls
    The challenges I face in doing inquiry-based activities with classes varies from year to year, partly depending on what background knowledge and experience my students bring with them. One of the general issues is time and maintaining workflow. It has helped to use a calendar that correlates with the rubric we are using. I do tend to like to create rubrics with students, that we continue to add to or revise as we are working. Formative assessment is really important, but since my students are 4th grade Language learners, they are sometimes more limited in terms of peer feedback. One way of addressing this is working in small groups so that students can bound ideas off of each other and build their projects together. It also makes it a little easier for me to provide groups with timely feedback. I really liked The Inquiry Continuum that was presented earlier in the course because it really helps to scaffold the process more easily without the expectation that students don't need to engage a complete "Open Inquiry" when they are initially learning the process of inquiry. It takes time to for students to develop the skills and conceptual understanding needed for Open Inquiry. I also think the process is more important than getting to some specific outcome, if that is not where students are at.
  • Sylvia
    Participant
    Sylvia_Qualls
    I researched ebird from Cornell Lab of Ornithology. ebird's whole purpose is for anyone to be able to share their birding observations at any location in the world. The database is accessible to anyone who creates a free account. It is usable by anyone who has not participated in the project, but they would need to familiarize themselves a bit with the different ways data is expressed in ebird. Students can access information through an account. For my 4th grade students they would need some support with this. Ebird would be a useful way to explore data particular to our region, or to specific hot spots near our school. We could also look at migratory bird data over time to better understand patterns. If a student were interested in a particular bird in our regions, they could also use that as a focal point for data research.
  • Sylvia
    Participant
    Sylvia_Qualls
    Some of these ideas I mentioned in the last lesson. Getting outside is a great catalyst for questions, but if that can't happen, then it is still possible to bring something into class whether it is skins, old nests, feathers, images, seed pods, oak galls or any facet of the natural world for students to document, notice, ask questions about and begin investigation with. It is also good to follow up with general questions/comments to garner more details & discussion like "tell me more about that", "does anyone else have anything to add", or "what does this remind you of". Out of experience I have backed off of anything prepackaged curriculum-wise, because it hasn't given my students an opportunity to become their own "knowledge holders". I don't want them to defer to me or any other adult, but follow up on their questions, and not just ask them and leave them their. I like to create conditions through walks, and pointing out things in a very general way. I have never done a Wonder board but I would like to do that this year. To me, the investigation process is very much like a prototyping cycle. So I draw a lot of parallels between what we do in STEM/STEAM lessons when we are problem solving. This also relates to when we are working on physical computing and have to trouble shoot. It is useful to create connections between these processes and experiences, even though they are not exactly the same. There is a lot of overlap and it helps my students to build their schema or metacognitive understanding of what the process of developing and testing a hypothesis is and does. I don't always ask the same specific questions, but in general I ask what do you notice, what do you wonder, what makes you think that, how could you find out about that? The general what, why and how questions tend to dig beneath the surface of things to help students look at how they could explore something. I do think it is important to be consistent and follow through, which I don't always do, partly because of time. This is another reason why I think a question box or a yearlong Wonder board could be really engaging.
  • Sylvia
    Participant
    Sylvia_Qualls
    I participated in the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP). It is rather detailed in terms of documenting your area. I had to go out and measure. They track temperature, but I just used my cell phone for that info because I don't keep a thermometer outside. The MLMP also have videos to help train yourself. I watched several videos about how to determine what instar phase the caterpillars are in. This was helpful and a lot of new information for me, but very practical. They have different monitoring sheets you can use depending on how you want to track data, whether it is just 1 event or regular data collection. I was also very curious how many caterpillars I have in my garden, and I wanted to spend some time seeing if I could find any chrysalids ( I found 2, and then 2 caterpillars J-hanging) along with the 30 other caterpillars I found in my garden. It was hard to find eggs, partly because our native plant species Asclepias fascicularis has thin leaves and so it takes a loooooong time to look under each leaf for eggs. Usually, when Monarchs come around, I follow them after they visit a plant to see where they put their eggs. Right now it has been much cooler, foggy and with misty rain earlier in the morning and day. So temperatures are cooler and I haven't been seeing any Monarch butterflies. What is interesting this year is the record number of caterpillars in my garden and how they are all on the A. fascicularis. In the past, I usually find the caterpillars on the Asclepias speciosa, but not this year. My native garden is more established and I also have more fascicularis than speciosa now. I wonder if this has an effect on how easily the Monarchs can find the plants? I have a lot of aphids on all my Asclepias now but that wasn't the case a few weeks ago. I also wonder if that made it difficult for me to find any eggs. All the eggs (2) I found were  on speciosa. The caterpillars are just devouring my plants, so I am wondering how many of them will make it to the chrysalid stage. Most of the caterpillars I found were in late 3rd instar phase (10), 7 in 4th instar phase, and 9 in 5th instar phase. Oh I only found 2 caterpillars on the Asclepias speciosa total. Today was the first time I document Monarch observations in my garden, but I have been going out to watch them for weeks now. I have been very intrigued by their behavior, because I usually go out and look at them in the late afternoon and one of the things I notice is that in the evenings quite a few of them leave the Asclepias plants and go off to other plants that are not Asclepias. I have found them on the Hummingbird Sage, Cercis and California Asters even when they are not in 5th instar. I wonder what they are doing? Are they ready to molt? Are they trying to camouflage themselves for the evening?  I can see how important it is to look at data over time to get a clearer indication of what the data means.
  • Sylvia
    Participant
    Sylvia_Qualls
    If, as an educator, you yourself are always asking questions and wondering about things, it can help students to both learn and feel comfortable with that process and experience. Having a general wonder board and question box can also be a way to encourage questions and keep track of them, to follow up for projects, discussions, and investigations. It is also helpful to loop questioning throughout content areas so that students can see the relationship between questions and subject areas. Getting outside is also a great catalyst, but if that can't happen, then it is still possible to bring something into class whether it is skins, old nests, feathers, images, seed pods, oak galls or any facet of the natural world for students to document, notice, ask questions about and begin investigation with. It is also good to follow up with general questions/comments to garner more details & discussion like "tell me more about that", "does anyone else have anything to add", or "what does this remind you of".
  • Sylvia
    Participant
    Sylvia_Qualls
    I have done this activity before and with my students. Today when I went outside my neighbor was chipping branches down the hillside. So that was definitely the most prominent sound in the landscape. Although I live up a hill, I can hear the roadside down below as the cars pass along the road through our little valley. With all the wood chipping noise I wasn't able to hear that well, but I did hear Chestnut-backed Chickadees calling back and forth from several different spots in my yard. There is very little that deters them. To me, they are always the bravest birds. They are not particularly afraid of people. I could hear a pair of hummingbirds doing their scritchy-scratchy scree talk. They were probably Anna's Hummingbirds, as that is who is usually around here and they tend to be very territorial with the feeders. Off toward the barn I could hear the California Jays first with a mild alert call, and then several jays with the general squawk they tend to make. Up in the Acacia's I could hear a Hooded Oriole doing its clicking talk. They are very shy, and tend to hide out in the Acacia's or the Box Elder Trees before swooping down to the feeders I have set up for them. They bring their children, who are less shy, and bring them to feed. It is my first year they have come to my yard, and I have been really excited to see them over the last few months each day. I heard another call, like a to, to, to with a ping pong ball drop, but I don't know who that was. Given my neighbors loud chipper it wasn't the best time for listening, but everyone is busy with projects, and also prepping for fire season. So we have all been working on our trees and landscape to keep our community safe. I observe my yard everyday both from inside and outside the house. It is nice to take time to focus solely on hearing what is in the landscape and developing a keener awareness of what is occurring within just 1 sense field. Kids enjoy this, but it tends to take them a few times to really bring their attention to this activity and how to describe what they are hearing to help them get a sense of how to map this out on paper. IMG-0058 (1)
  • Sylvia
    Participant
    Sylvia_Qualls
    The NGSS Science practices are important for my students to understand and use so those 8 practices will be an important part of our process. I like starting with just getting outside, because that is where observation can happen, and then develop into a more formal structure of documenting observations. I also use John Muir Laws I wonder, I notice... observation tool https://johnmuirlaws.com/product/observation-question-stickers/ It is handy as we begin to formalize our observations and questions. I like the I Wonder board idea and will try that out. I also like the whole idea of exploring the kinds of questions on our board and how we can classify them to better understand which ones require research, exploring current data, observational study or experimentation. Analyzing questions will better help students identify the kinds of questions we would use specifically for some type of investigation or experiment vs reading/researching and why that is important. I do think parts of Lesson 2 from Investigating Evidence would be better to do first, such as drawing a scientist. Part of the reason is because it does serve as a kind of pre-assessment and that can be really useful when you are trying to gauge change in student understanding over time. I can do a lot of what I want because my district doesn't have specific science curriculum. We have old textbooks, but I am free to do what I want for the most part. I will teach energy, geology, waves, and structure and function as these are part of the 4th grade NGSS standards. I also teach grade 4 in California which means that  I will be teaching California History and I also teach California natural history as part of this, along with California's Indigenous Peoples. So there is a lot of opportunity to explore native flora and fauna while enjoying schoolyard and outdoor classroom walks, and engaging students in investigations.
  • Sylvia
    Participant
    Sylvia_Qualls
    The three teaching practices that UC Davis recommends just seem like common sense to me. If you are working with students and they are the learners then they should be doing the "science", and taking ownership of it. However, I would say it is more meaningful for students to drive the project or investigation out of their own observations or interests rather than just solely having a teacher assign a project/investigation to them. When I was a kid my favorite game was to role play that I was Jacques Cousteau  in my own submarine, in charge of my own crew and out there making observations of sea creatures. This was a very elaborate imaginative role play game that I engaged in pretty much every day in my room. It is fun to direct your own learning and find your own project so it makes complete sense to allow the children to take that on. This is also why I prefer to generate investigations out of nature walks and organic experiences. I have tried it the other way, being teacher directed and it just ends up with me having to back pedal so much content language that puts me in the "knowledge holder" role. That is not really my thing. I am comfortable with messy and opportune so I am totally down for attending to the unexpected. I think the teacher lingo is " teachable moments", and just go with it. Thumbs up on that. I definitely frame our learning locally, and certainly connect it to national issues, but I think I probably need to look at how help my students make better connections between "local" and "global" connections/interdependence both in terms of what is common across the world and what impacts others around the globe more directly.
  • Sylvia
    Participant
    Sylvia_Qualls
    I have used ebird with my students. While I have raised and observed Monarch caterpillars with my students I have not done it in a formal way. For me, I prefer to start by developing the habit of nature walks and observations with students. This gives much more of an organic opportunity for students to drive the experience and develop structure out of students' observations. It also helps students understand why scientists use tools, specific methods of data collection, or structures for observation. It also requires a lot less teacher driven knowledge sharing. This is just my own experience. I don't mind things being unstructured for awhile, it helps the kids to see through their own experience how they are pattern finding, meaning makers, and that that this is part of science. I still plan to teach ornithology and use ebird, but our route getting there will be circuitous, and be determined by what the children find interesting and intriguing. Also I want it to be fun and joyful for us as a class, not just something we have to do.
  • Sylvia
    Participant
    Sylvia_Qualls
    I teach a unit on wetlands, part of that is exploring the services, functions, and values that wetlands provide while supporting students in understanding what erosion is, how it occurs, and the role wetlands play in preventing erosion. I could see how in creating a model of a wetland in a pan that is just soil I could provide a context for confirmation inquiry. Students would be able to make initial drawings/observations of the initial model. I could then use a turkey baster or camera dust remover to simulate wind and ask students to make observations of what occurs. I could then use a watering can to simulate rain so students while students make observations about what changes, and explanations of what is happening in the model. We would then engage in conversation about students questions and explanations about what is happening. In the process students would be engaging in the Science Practices of asking questions and defining problems, using models carrying out an investigation, constructing explanations and designing solutions while engaging in arguments from evidence. Depending on where we evolve to the investigation students may have specific ideas about what would prevent erosion in our model. This would then set the stage for the next investigation which would be a guided inquiry with a wetland model that include plants. Again students would make initial drawings, observations and predictions since we will be modeling wind and water again. Students would then have the opportunity to consider what was different in the outcome between the two models, while developing explanations for what created that difference. As a start to inquiry, I think this is simple enough to allow students to engage with the science content while building experience with inquiry, science journals and the discussions process. If I were doing it later in the year when students had more experience with inquiry investigations I could see supporting students in small groups to create these models which would allow them more opportunity to simulate erosion, observing impacts and developing solutions to this problem while considering the impact of erosion.
  • Sylvia
    Participant
    Sylvia_Qualls
    I have done many of these activities with my students, and thinking about how to create a structured inquiry experience for wetlands seems doable. It definitely takes some knowledge development to support students in understanding what different macro-invertebrates or the variety found indicate about the health of water. I have often used the Macro Mania activity kit to help my students build background knowledge of macro-invertebrates, before we get into the field. I think it is a wonderful experience for kids to be able to spend a week in nature exploring  opportunities to better understand what gives us a larger picture of the health of a body of water.
  • Sylvia
    Participant
    Sylvia_Qualls
    I think of inquiry as a fundamental curiosity/wondering/questioning that is driven by observations, most commonly sensory observations. These may be stand alone observations, or repeated observations that follow a pattern of days, weeks or months etc. Inquiry also includes the process of determining how to research or collect evidence, knowledge, or data to answer questions that are being asked. Within the specific process discussed in the articles there is a socio-cultural orientation and valuation to specific methods of inquiry, and kinds of knowledge. There are a lot of things I am thinking about with respect to "inquiry" and how I want to define it and approach it with my students. Mainly what occurs to me is that students need unstructured opportunities for observing, and discussion opportunities for deciding what they value, or find interesting to generate a sweet spot for their own questions, and the tools that they think will support them in documenting their own experience so that they remember it, but can also follow up and begin a path of investigation. Concept Map
    in reply to: Intro to Inquiry #721249
Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)