LogoScience IDEAS Project: 2002-2009

Science IDEAS: Instructional Planning

This section consists of paper-pencil “tools” used to guide the sequence of tasks followed in Science IDEAS instructional planning. Overall, the planning process is structured as a school-based, grade articulated process that begins with grade-level curriculum articulation planning and ends with the development of propositional concept maps that provide the conceptual framework for what is to be taught in multi-day lessons. Once the curricular-oriented propositional concept maps are developed, specific Science IDEAS elements in the form of learning activities are then mapped on the curricular concept maps. Finally, the learning activities on the map are sequenced for instruction.

Note 1 - Implications for teachers using Science IDEAS on an individual basis.
Although the planning process is presented here within a school-based, grade-articulated context, individual teachers using the Science IDEAS model in their classrooms can follow the same process. However, in doing so, individual teachers must make initial assumptions about and then use the Science IDEAS prior knowledge strategy to insure science instruction is appropriate for the students in their classrooms.

Note 2 - Implications for multi-school or districtwide applications of Science IDEAS
A group of schools or a districtwide adoption of Science IDEAS would follow the same planning process as a school-based adoption. The only difference would be in the involvement of teachers and/or curriculum science specialists in the planning process.

The collection is composed of the following:

Articulated Grade-Level K-5 Curriculum Planning

The goal of grade-level curriculum planning is to insure that the cumulative instruction students experience across grades K-5 is coherent and meaningful. Such grade-level planning is done every 6-9 weeks by teachers representing each grade level. Typically, topics and concepts are displayed using post-it notes on a large whiteboard. Use of post-it notes allows topics/concepts to be moved around easily. Essentially, the result of the planning process is the equivalent of a scope and sequence of how the science curriculum evolves across grade levels for each of the major curriculum “tracks” in science (e.g., matter, force and motion) that provides a guide for Science IDEAS teachers at each grade level. Once the initial curricular articulation plan is developed, it can be easily modified in succeeding years.

Intra-Grade Level Unit/Lesson Activities Planning

Given a grade-articulated articulated curricular plan, teachers at a specific grade level can work together or individually to identify the science concepts or group of concepts to be addressed in daily 1.5-2 hour instructional blocks in grades 3-5 and daily 45 minute instructional blocks in grades K-2 within the number of instructional weeks in a school grade-reporting unit (e.g. 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 12 weeks). This process is an elaboration of the broader grade-articulated curricular framework. The specific part of the Science IDEAS planning process in this phase is the identification of a pool of multiple activities for each type of science ideas element (e.g., reading, hands-on) to be used in instruction.

Multi-Day Lesson Planning Using Original Concept-Focused Architecture

Given a pool of activities representing each of the Science IDEAS elements focusing on a science concept or group of concepts, the next step is sequencing the activities for instruction and allocating the anticipated amount of daily instructional time allocated to each. The attached form represents the original concept-focused approach used to plan science ideas lessons that did not use curricular concept maps. However, because all of the different types of activities were concept-focused, the instructional sequences developed by teachers were effective in engendering student learning.

Advanced Multi-Day Lesson Planning Using Propositional Concept Maps

Although the original concept-focused Science IDEAS architecture for multi-day lesson planning was effective, over the course of the NSF/IERI project the use of propositional concept maps was added to the planning process. The advantage of introducing such curricular concept maps into the planning process is that such maps provided a means for raising the degree of curricular coherence of Science IDEAS instruction. The enhancement of curricular coherence resulted from the fact that the construction of such concept maps resulted in the explication among concepts and sub concepts to be taught. As a result, mapping the different types of instructional activities on the concept map and then sequencing the activities for instruction insured necessarily resulted in the sequence of instructional activities experienced by student learners was a optimal as possible. Although this approach to planning instruction is more powerful, in most cases it is not recommended for use by beginning Science IDEAS teachers unless they are provided with support of more experienced Science IDEAS teachers.