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Teaching Inquiry-based Science: A M odel for Differentiation. Presented by: Dr. Christine Purkiss – Angelo State University Dr. Marilyn Eisenwine – Angelo State University Mu Gamma Chapter, KDP Kappa Delta Pi Biennial Convocation Indianapolis, November 2011. Why Inquiry Based Science?.

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teaching inquiry based science a m odel for differentiation

Teaching Inquiry-based Science: A Model for Differentiation

Presented by:

Dr. Christine Purkiss – Angelo State University

Dr. Marilyn Eisenwine – Angelo State University

Mu Gamma Chapter, KDP

Kappa Delta Pi Biennial Convocation

Indianapolis, November 2011

why inquiry based science
Why Inquiry Based Science?
  • Hands-onuses multiple activities and investigations
  • Minds-on – activates prior knowledge and stretches students thinking
  • Opposite from a traditional direct teaching method
  • Facilitates all learning styles
  • Uses multiple layers of different types of learning
  • Gets students interested in doing Science
  • Differentiation is built in to the lesson model
what is differentiation
What is Differentiation?

“Differentiation can be defined as an approach to teaching in which teachers proactively modify curricula, teaching methods, resources, learning activities, and student products to address the diverse needs of individual students and small groups of students to maximize the learning opportunity for each student in a classroom” (p. 121).

Tomlinson, C. A., Brighton, C., Hertberg, H., Callahan, C. M., Moon, T. R., Brimijoin, K., Conover, L. A., & Reynolds, T. (2003, Winter).

what is differentiation1
What is Differentiation?

"Differentiation is a pedagogical, rather than an organizational approach" (p. 121).

Tomlinson, C. A., Brighton, C., Hertberg, H., Callahan, C. M., Moon, T. R., Brimijoin, K., Conover, L. A., & Reynolds, T. (2003, Winter).

5e model
5E Model

The 5E learning cycle is an instructional design model that defines a learning sequence based on the experiential learning philosophy of John Dewey and the experiential learning cycle proposed by David Kolb.

Attributed to Roger Bybee of the Biological Science Curriculum Study (BSCS), the model presents a framework for constructivist learning theories.

5e model1
5E Model






differentiation and the 5e model
Differentiation and the 5E Model

Research suggests that the following tie to different levels of the 5E model

  • Engaging all learners
  • Building background knowledge
  • Students take an active role in learning
  • Vary the materials student work directly with
  • Explain what they learn in many different ways – using their own words
  • Key knowledge and concepts are learned
  • Research activities and web-based inquiries
  • Varied forms of evaluations
  • The focus, the hook to catch the students interest
  • Based on the content to be taught
  • Activates prior knowledge
  • 1 or 2 activities – hands-on - minds-on preferred
  • Examples:
    • Predictions
    • KWL or OWL
    • Think Pair share
    • Observations
    • Graffiti Facts
    • Discrepant events
    • Concept Attainment
    • Questions such as “I wonder what would happen if…..” or “How can I build a better…..”
  • Provides students with a common base of experiences within which current ideas can be identified and developed.
  • Students encounter and reflect on content
  • Active participants in learning – hands-on/minds-on is a must.
  • 1 or 2 activities
  • Examples:
    • Hands-on activity
    • Visuals like drawings or posters
    • Observations
    • Small-scale experiment (teacher directed)
    • Working with equipment/materials
    • Games
    • Web-based activity or lab
  • Need to focus students attention on engage and explore activities
  • Discuss what they learned and found out in the engage and explore activities
  • Students should have the opportunity to explain their findings in their own words, pictures, creations, etc.
  • Teachers should explain correct scientific vocabulary and overtly teach the concept – this is the teaching part of the lesson
  • Provide an opportunity for students to test their knowledge or check for understanding
  • Learning here is directed by the teacher
  • Good place to add a reading selection to reinforce learning
  • Now you know it can you show it!
  • Allows for a deeper, broader understanding of the concept taught.
  • Teachers provide activities/experiences for students to cooperate on activities, discuss their findings and demonstrate their skills
  • Activities should provide experiences to extend student conceptions, behaviors and challenge new knowledge
  • Activities could include:
    • Hands-on activities that are an extension of the learning
    • Experiments
    • Web Based adventures/activities
    • Research activities
  • This phase of the model encourages students to assess their understanding
  • Provides an opportunity for teachers to evaluate/assess student progress and understanding towards or of the learning goal
  • Evaluation activities should be directly related back to learning goals/objectives
      • responses to questions starting with “why” or “what”
      • performance activities
      • anecdotal records
      • writing assignments in science notebooks
      • concept attainment
      • concept mapping
      • drawings, charts, graphs
      • informal observations
      • paper and pencil tests of factual knowledge
example lesson hiding the animals
Example Lesson – Hiding the Animals

National Science Education Standards: Life Science K-4 The Characteristics of Organisms Each plant or animal has different structures that serve different functions in growth, survival and reproduction.

Student Learning Outcomes:1. Students will understand the concept of camouflage2. Students will apply the concept of camouflage

hiding the animals engage
Hiding the Animals - ENGAGE
  • Using pictures from Nature Hide and Seek Jungle, Ocean, or Wood books (or a Where’s Waldo book) have pairs of students find the animals (or Waldo) hiding in the pictures. Have them make a list of the animals they find.

Observations, Hands-on/Minds-on

hiding the animals engage1
Hiding the Animals - ENGAGE

2. Ask students to think about the one animal in their picture that was the hardest to see. Why was it so hard to find?


hiding the animals engage2
Hiding the Animals - ENGAGE

3. Have students discuss with their partner the animals they thought were the hardest to find. Have students share out their animals and the reasons why it was so hard to see.


hiding the animals explore
Hiding the Animals - EXPLORE

Play the Birds and Worms game.

  • In this outdoor activity students are the birds and will gather “worms”.
  • Worms are colored with one color matching the surroundings.
  • Students learn that the worms that can be seen are eaten!

Active Learning, Games

Adapted from Project Learning Tree.

hiding the animals explore1
Hiding the Animals - EXPLORE

After the Birds and Worms game.

  • Make a chart or bar graph of the number of worms collected by the class by color.
  • Have students discuss with their partners, reasons why different colors were eaten more or less.
  • Share out student findings

Graphic Organizers, Think-Pair-Share

hiding the animals explain
Hiding the Animals - EXPLAIN
  • Ask students to explain how the Birds and Worms game connected to the hide and seek pictures and the animals they had a hard time seeing?(Discussion, checking for understanding)
  • Guide students to see that these animals were all using a natural adaptation to help them survive. The worms that were the same color as the surroundings, did not get eaten. The animals in the woods/jungles that can hide in the plants or grasses can hunt better and survive other predators.
hiding the animals explain1
Hiding the Animals - EXPLAIN

3. Read Aloud either:

A color of his own by Leo Lionni,

The mixed up chameleon by Eric Carle, or

Chameleons are cool by Martin Jenkins.

Start with a predictions, vocabulary, connections to literature.

hiding the animals explain2
Hiding the Animals - EXPLAIN

3. This concept is called camouflage. Write a definition of camouflage on the board. Have students write a definition of camouflage in their science notebooks. Discuss with students that animals that are adapted to their location survive and reproduce. The Peppered Moth is a good example to use here.

4. Ask students what other animals use camouflage? Make a list of the board. Have students include several examples of animals that use camouflage in their science notebooks.

Discussion, HOTS questions

hiding the animals elaborate
Hiding the Animals - ELABORATE

1. In this activity, pairs of students will make pictures of camouflaged items.

2. Provide students with two half sheets of newsprint, scissors, glue, and a template of a small butterfly/moth.

3. Have students cut out several butterflies from one half sheet of the newsprint.

hiding the animals elaborate1
Hiding the Animals - ELABORATE

4. Have students choose places on the other half sheet of newsprint to glue their butterflies where it is very hard to see them The purpose here is to camouflage the butterflies in the newsprint.

5. Once students are finished, have them swop their pictures and have the other students find the camouflaged butterflies.

Hands-on, application, active learning, partnering)

hiding the animals evaluate
Hiding the Animals - EVALUATE

Choose relevant assessments that will check if students mastered the objectives of the lesson.


  • Students write a story in their science notebook about why either the butterflies or the worms were not found.
  • Have students create a camouflaged item that can be hidden in the classroom that you have to find.

Writing assignment, hands-on check, choice.


Lawson, A.E. (1995). Science teaching and the development of thinking. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Tomlinson, C. A., Brighton, C., Hertberg, H., Callahan, C. M., Moon, T. R., Brimijoin, K., Conover, L. A., & Reynolds, T. (2003). Differentiating instruction in response to student readiness, interest, and learning profile in academically diverse classrooms: A review of the literature. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 27(2-3), 119-145.

Settlage, J. Understanding the learning cycle: Influences on abilities to embrace the approach by preservice elementary school teachers Science Education, 84(1), 43 – 50


Dofger, S., & Causton-Theoharis, J. (2010). Differentiation through choice: Using a think-tac-toe for science content. Science Scope, 33(6), 18-23.

Sondergeld, T.A., & Schultz, R.A. (2008). Science, standards and differentiation. Gifted Child Today, 31(1), 34 -40.

Bybee, R.W., Taylor, J.A., Gardner, A., Van Scotter, P., Carlson Powell, J., Westbrook, A., & Landes, N. (2006). The BSCS 5E instructional model: Origins, effectiveness, and applications. Colorado Springs, CO: BSCS.

contact information
Contact Information

Copies of this PowerPoint, a detailed list of differentiation strategies and websites, and a more elaborated lesson plan will be posted on



Dr. Christine Purkiss atcpurkiss@angelo.edu

Dr. Marilyn Eisenwineatmarilyn.eisenwine@angelo.edu