LogoScience IDEAS Project: 2002-2009

The Science IDEAS Model: Instructional Principles

The Science IDEAS model is composed of the combination of two fundamental components: (a) a set of instructional elements that define the different form of instructional activities used in classroom instruction and (b) a set of instructional principles that guide instruction. In applying these components, all Science IDEAS instruction is “knowledge-based” or “conceptually-focused”. That is, the science concepts that are to be addressed across a multi-day lesson are identified. In doing so, particular emphasis is on “core concepts” or “big ideas”.

Given the concepts to be addressed, planning for instruction involves identifying a variety of instructional activities for each element, all of which focus on the concepts to be addressed. Once identified, these activities are sequenced and allocated to daily 1.5 - 2 hour Science IDEAS instructional blocks. One additional requirement to the preceding planning process is that Science IDEAS schools work to insure that a grade-articulated curriculum plan is developed across grade levels. At the same time, within the constraints of the concepts addressed, teachers have a great deal of flexibility in implementing the model in their classrooms.

Within the preceding operational framework, the goal of Science IDEAS instruction is to result in in-depth, cumulative, meaningful learning.

Science IDEAS Instructional Elements

Science IDEAS elements are the activities used for classroom instruction

  1. Hands-On Science Activities
  2. Reading Comprehension (with Reading Comprehension Strategy)
  3. Propositional Concept Mapping
  4. Writing/Journaling
  5. Projects/Applications
  6. Prior Knowledge/Cumulative Review

Science IDEAS Instructional Principles

Science IDEAS instructional principles as used as a guide for using the Science IDEAS elements for in-depth science instruction.

  1. Use the logical structure of concepts in the discipline as the basis for a grade-articulated curricular framework.
  2. Insure that the curricular framework provides students with a firm prior knowledge foundation to maximize comprehension of “new” content to be taught.
  3. Focus instruction on core disciplinary concepts (and relationships) and explicitly address prior knowledge and cumulative review.
  4. Provide adequate amounts of initial and follow-up instructional time necessary to achieve cumulative conceptual understanding emphasizing “students learning more about what they are learning”.
  5. Guide meaningful student conceptual organization of knowledge by linking different types of instructional activities (e.g., hands-on science, reading comprehension, propositional concept mapping, journaling/writing, applications).
  6. Provide students with opportunities to represent the structure of conceptual knowledge across cumulative learning experiences as a basis for oral and written communication (e.g., propositional concept mapping, journaling/writing).
  7. Reference a variety of conceptually-oriented tasks for the purpose of assessment in order to distinguish between students with and without in-depth understanding (e.g., distinguishing positive vs. negative examples, use IF/THEN principles to predict outcomes, apply abductive reasoning to explain phenomena that occur in terms of science concepts).
  8. Recognize how and why in-depth, meaningful, cumulative learning within a content-oriented discipline provides a necessary foundation developing proficiency in reading comprehension and written communication.