I am super lucky to get to work with some amazing educators! This summer, we’ve been able to work together for two weeks and our main goal has been to improve our students’ ability to design, perform, and analyze scientific investigations. To accomplish this, we decided that our first task would be to create a framework that we all follow when doing labs. The idea is that students should use the same process to investigate chemical reactions as Sophomores as they use use to investigate cellular respiration as Juniors or the acceleration of gravity as Freshmen. So, the first thing we made is this:
We’ll each modify the descriptions to match the level of our students, but the framework (in gray) remains the same all four years.
Once we had a basic framework, we went to work creating lab activities using the framework as a guide. Here is the template we are starting with:
And here is an example from our Biology teachers (note: this is a rough draft, they’ve already decided on several things they want to change):
You’ll notice that some of the process has already been filled in for the students. This is the great thing about the template! Year-to-year and lab-to-lab, the teacher can decide how much to provide and how much to leave to the student. We came up with a basic vertical alignment plan, but really it’s going to depend on the content and the students. But the framework is always there. The students in any class at our school will see those gray bars on a handout and immediately recognize that an investigation is about to take place and know what that means.
I am really looking forward to seeing how we all use the template this year, and over the next few years whether students improve their investigative skills. Eventually, we’d love to see the framework become so internalized that a student immediately recognizes the various parts without the framework.
Does your school use a common framework for labs? Can I see?