[callout]This post is written by Mike Mohammad, a secondary science teacher in Brookfield, Wisconsin. You can follow him on Twitter @mo_physics and check out his blog mophysicsmoproblems.blogspot.com. [/callout]
With the introduction of new standards across different content areas, the focus of learning has moved beyond simply mastering content knowledge to applying skills within disciplines. The Next Generation Science Standards is an example fo this. It contains 8 different science practices across all grade levels k-12.
- Asking questions and defining problems
- Developing and using models
- Planning and carrying out investigations
- Analyzing and interpreting data
- Using mathematics and computational thinking
- Constructing explanations and designing solutions
- Engaging in argument from evidence
- Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
Some schools will see this and think, “We don’t have enough science equipment for this!”
You may already have all you need with devices your students have access to. And this goes for any content area with evolving standards — English, math, social studies and beyond.
We have converted our lab reports from Google Docs into Google Slides. It has opened up new possibilities for learners to demonstrate many of the NGSS science practices.
Here are three examples you can start using in your classroom now:
Example 1: Developing and Using Models
When looking at models in the science classroom, we are looking at representations or a system or part of a system. Imagine students are being asked to create a model explaining how a Cartesian Diver, as seen below, works.
Original: On a traditional worksheet, a question like this would have space below for students to create a model using drawings and text.
Better: The same situation can be created within a Google Doc by inserting a Google Drawing.
Transformational: In Slides, we can allow learners to take this even further.
- Students can embed audio to provide an explanation for what they are thinking or even link an audio file describing a visual they created.
- The same is true for video. Students can embed a video directly onto a slide. This video could be as simple as a direct address to the camera or more advanced like a physical demonstration of a process.
The point is that the ability for more avenues of expression allows learners to choose a path of communication with the least barriers.
Example 2: Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
Think of a traditional science procedure on a worksheet. I’ll bet you are thinking of a list numbered steps for students to follow.
With Google Slides, we have the ability to go way beyond this.
Instead, embed videos on a slide. Teachers can present procedures to students as short videos. You can record with your camera or use a tool like Flipgrid (flipgrid.com) or Screencastify (screencastify.com) or others.
These videos make directions crystal clear. Students can pause, rewind, and review. They don’t even have to raise their hand to ask for help.
In the example above, the teacher created instructional videos. Students can make these videos, too!
We can skip having students create a numbered written procedure. Try student-created video. This could be a full-blown live procedure walkthrough. It could something simpler: a direct video address to camera simply explaining the step-by-step procedure for the lab.
Example 3: Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Ask students to analyze data. They determine the meaning of data. They look for patterns. Then, traditionally, they write about their findings.
Google Slides lets students go beyond just writing. They can show what they’ve learned by annotating their data presentations.
With text boxes, shapes, audio, video, images and more, there are limitless possibilities!
Imagine students took photos of a lab. They could easily insert that image into a slide. Draw on top of that image. Add text boxes or audio explanations.
This works great for graphs as well. Students can use the drawing tools to explain exactly what is happening in the graph.
Using Google Slides may not fundamentally change the science practices in an activity. But, Slides provides new ways to demonstrate mastery.
In addition to scaffolding for those who need it, its richer multimedia can provide greater student challenge.
More Google Slides resources:
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