Aligning Experimental Design


My students did really well on their first summative lab of the year. They're getting a better understanding of variables, and are starting to draw evidence based conclusions. I can't believe how well students can make a data chart, considering we haven't spent much time on that. Although I've been teaching science for 10 years, I've grown so much compared with work my students were producing in earlier days.

Vertical Alignment
At our department meeting last week, we agreed on some common expectations for experimental design at our school to have more consistency as students move up through our program. Granted, there is a higher turnover of students in the international school, but teachers were using different target vocabulary (Dependent and Independent verses Manipulated and Responding) which was creating a little confusion from students as they adjusted to a new set of expectations. So far, I have been using a somewhat generic cover sheet for final lab and a MS friendly evaluation rubric that is graded on three categories.

Meaningful Meetings
All individuals and departments shared how they were using experimental design and were able to take a the version the high school uses, and tailor it to their division. After a few minutes, we came up with this version:

MS Experimental Design Template DRAFT

We melded in some of our target vocabulary and made a few formatting changes but the format is 80% similar. I like that we have some prompts for students to do multiple trials for data collection to offset any outliers.We also adopted a similar evaluation of this work to make our grading policies more transparent and deprivatize our practice.

I know that meetings are not very popular, but I walked away last week feeling that we came together as a staff and compromised well on a format that will make it easier for subsequent teachers to teach science in their classrooms. We also shared some target vocabulary that we can emphasize in "word choice" when writing and communicating scientific procedures. Who knew that meetings could be so productive?

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