Topic of the Day… Nature of Science…


Nature of Science-starting thoughts…evidence based; tentative; accessible to everyone; an exploration of ideas; Not Only Science facts…. what else will we add as we go through the course?


Graffiti Board … illustrate a water cycle word or process…


Sharon’s illustration questions the use of the term “cycle”; Dan adds his own twist-convection cell within an ocean and goes on to explain to us the impact on the water cycle created by these cells; Daniel illustrated transpiration-water vapor entering the atmosphere as a by-product of photosynthesis in the tree, he also added a cloud and some rain, showing condensation and precipitation; Sean sketched out some hills, rain, and runoff (water flowing on the surface, downhill, pulled to lower spots by gravity; Jo Ann added infiltration…snaking the word around the unconsolidated sediments below the earth’s surface

For the written portion of the “As you Enter” assignment, folks were asked to consider three statements; to choose 2 to interpret and reflect upon. The statements were inspired by the readings; the interpretations and reflections should offer a window into the thinking about those readings.

1. “Science is at the frontier of knowledge and ignorance.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

DZ shared this thought: Science is about accepting that we do not have all the answers, and simultaneously about having the drive to pursue them!

SD quoted from the reading: “Scientific literacy is clearly about knowing but is also about a way of thinking and acting” (Murcia, 2005); she also cautioned that those who are scientifically literate have access to social capital and communities that may not be accessible with said knowledge.  

2.  “Knowledge produced through science is different when scientists with fresh perspectives begin to participate.” Settlage and Southerland

DB noted that Settlage and Southerland also said that Science knowledge production is subjective. DB added that realizing this allows us to better accept fresh perspectives of our students and value their knowledge, background, experiences, and ideas.  He went on to say that fresh is different, and in science, different is good because different means change.

SD wanted us to consider that fact that no science is truly fact, in science there is only “disprovability”; student discovery and input adds value to science

  1. Without writing, where would our thoughts go?

DB loved this quote.  It is a nature of science that science builds off of the knowledge of the past and other contemporaries.  For this to happen, the ideas we produce must be permanent. Writing allows us to put our ideas down for posterity (and scrutiny of others).

IP questioned-without writing, where is the permanence of our thoughts? New literacies enhance permanence further.

DZ wrote that expressing oneself is something I find to be of personal preference. As was said in the blogging reading, how can I be certain i know it unless I’ve written it down? The ability to form language understandable by others is a key component to any learning, especially that of science.  DZ’s ideas made me think to add… this is why continual assessment of individual’s ideas is such an important element of classroom planning.

Next up on the agenda was a bit of time for questions about the course syllabus and UbD.  We were able to clear up some questions about reading assignment due dates.  To be clear.. the reading folder states the date that the readings are assigned; the critical claim, discussion prompts, and class discussion will be due by the next class… Critical Claim and discussion of the 5/19 reading folder will take place on 5/21.

We spent the next portion of class discussing the readings.  The instructors gave some feedback and reminders about the critical claims: single space, narrow margins, small font size; header should contain the assignment title, the student’s name, and the authors of the readings; the footer should contain the important vocabulary and definitions.  The narrative should start with the claim (the theme or message that cuts across all of the readings) and be followed by supporting evidence from the readings, citations should use APA formatting. The claim should be limited to one page. A second page may be used to list the references, again in APA format.

In addition to sending in the Critical Claim, before class, students were asked to complete a Discussion Prompt and Questions page to bring with them to class to use during the discussion (and then submit).  Here is the template for that page:


Next, we looked at the Topic of the Day board.  Each person read and spoke a bit about what they had written.  This quick review of NOS situated us nicely for the next task…while watching the video about Martian gullies, note evidence of NOS, be ready for class discussion.



This is a list of the NOS we spotted… what can you add?: they made observations; they tried to explain a phenomena that was different than what is seen on Earth; they made models to explain their ideas; they tried out a number of ideas, tested and revised their tests; it was collaborative; driven by curiosity; persisted when expectations didn’t go as originally thought; and it had an element of fun!

During a Read-Aloud of Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni, students were asked to listen, and when instructed, to visualize what was being described in the story.  Armed with colored pencils, students were to sketch their visualizations. (My only regret is that I did not take pictures of their visualizations, students put them in their journals, so I may be able to upload the pics at another time). Predictions about where the story was going were made along the way.  At the end, students paired and shared their visualizations.  They were then asked to committo paper, their thoughts about these prompts, and told that a discussion of their responses would ensue:

  1. Fish’s visualizations in the context of our readings.
  2. Your visualizations compared to Fish’s.
  3. Ideas for science lessons inspired by the story.
  4. Implications for teaching and the way students learn.

The general consensus… just because we (the teacher) says something, doesn’t mean the student receives it the way it was intended; that student background, prior knowledge will influence thoughts when a new situation is being considered; it is important to consider one’s own biases when sharing information; important to remember to try to see through the eyes of your students. These comments made me think of this picture…


In our minds, we are perfectly clear about our meaning… doesn’t mean the listener shares our clarity

Next on the agenda:  Equipment and its use.  To prepare for our next three classes that will take place out of the classroom as we explore various points along the Genesee River, students were shown the equipment that will be available for their use and got some practice in the use of the equipment.  The equipment available for use: iPads, Data Hubs, Whirl-Pak bags, Coliscan Easy Gel and plates; microscopes; pH paper; water test strips; surveyor wheel; Go-Pro.

Tool kit page

We took a break and practiced DEAR (drop everything and read):

Untapped resource p2 Democrat_and_Chronicle_20140525_A23_0

Untapped Source p1 Democrat_and_Chronicle_20140525_A01_0

We revisited our drainage divide and basin model, talked about its limitations and affordances.


We named a few: Affordances-showed a landscape that would create the drainage pattern that had been drawn on the page; showed that the divides were the high points in the landscape Limitations-didn’t show scale, or extent of the basin

From there we pasted a mini-map of the Genesee River and its tributaries into our journals. And used that map to help us identify the Genesee River and drainage basin on a map of NYS river systems. We looked at and also added to our journals, a diagram of the Genesee River and rock formations that it traverses.

Of course, we ran out of time, so we will do the other model making activities another day.  For summary we listed the 8-practices that we used in class today.

For closure, folks wrote about the implications of today’s discussion and activities on their future teaching practices.

DZ wrote: You never know exactly what is going on in your student’s heads. Thus, it is imperative to ensure that you consider the students’ prior experiences and not assume that you share an understanding.

SD had a variety of ways the lesson would impact her future practice: showing all students the materials and vocabulary prior to an experience allows for equity between learners and hopefully a more successful investigative experience; the nature of science has a profound influence on the classroom environment and the attempt to immerse all students into scientific culture; use of models between different class discussions generate contextual meaning for all students; be cognizant of my language and the way that my own descriptions and interpretations can be different for other students and teachers.

IP was amazed how much of an effect knowing tools and materials has. Engage your students with Scientific Practices and they will get involved; perception of students will be as diverse as their past experiences are…value that!

DB thought the Fish is Fish read-aloud and activity made him starkly aware of the lens he uses to answer questions and view the world and how that lens might be different than that of my students. This lens is part of my identity and sharing the construction of that lens with students allows us to build a classroom culture that include our students, all of our identities and is part of a broader culture of science.  DB went on to say that by discussing and recognizing NOS, I can be explicit about not only using these in my teaching, but dissecting these natures through teaching, constructing an understanding of them with students.

Another fine class!


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