Image of a person writing in a notebook.

Teaching Myself: Student Voice in a Science Lab

Image of a person writing in a notebook.This series focuses on myself as an instructor, improving my methodologies and teaching skills. Each self-instruction article starts with a statement of instructional goal and a reference to the text that inspired the self-instruction effort.

Goal: The purpose of classroom dialogue is to facilitate construction of knowledge and continued curiosity. Breaking Free from Myths About Teaching and Learning Chapter 6: Revisiting and Rethinking Teaching and Learning Myths by Allison Zmuda

Instructional Brain Storm: As an instructor hoping to promote this goal I need to look for ways to differentiate student experiences otherwise I still ignore their voice. Providing students an assignment with choice gives them an opportunity for expression and interaction with co-creating peers to better aid the building of knowledge. Sharing with each other, students expose themselves and their curiosity to new ideas.

Activity Idea: My students are currently learning about matter, the states of matter, phase change, etc. This is part of the state-required common curricular goals relating to conservation of matter and energy. At first coming up with a student directed activity stumped me but after consideration I realized a lab activity in which their express purpose was to determine the state of an indeterminate substance using their own resources would provide them the flexibility to explore and ask questions themselves while also targeting the standards. Many instructors have used this activity similarly over the years. Usually retaining greater directorial control than I plan.

The Activity: Students are given a bag of a difficult to identify state of matter substance (Water and Corn Starch mixed with food coloring potentially). They are then asked to determine what state of matter the content are in using their own resources. I might provide my struggling learners a guiding sheet but would really like to see how students do without a guide, relying on their own research in how to determine the state of a substance.

Assessment: Students write out their conclusions and explanation of those conclusions as their turn in. Instead of basing assessment on accuracy I plan to use a rubric that focuses on their scientific thinking.

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About the author: Rurik

Known both as Ru (or as the title suggests, Ru Ru the Ruiner), Rurik studies ways games can designed to improve society, especially in the realm of education.