Research from Northeastern University’s Dr. Tracy L. Waters shows that using the KnowAtom Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-based curriculum is helping teachers spark excitement from young learners. Promoting differentiation in how students are taught core science concepts, build 21st century career skills, and utilize scientific process for hands-on discovery is helping improve student success and increase collaboration and engagement in the classroom.
Elementary and Middle School Teachers Are Better Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners
In her research, Dr. Waters looked at how 4th and 5th grade teachers are better meeting the needs of diverse learners through differentiation when using KnowAtom’s hands-on science curriculum. A district administrator who participated in the study shared the differences between how science used to be taught throughout the district, versus how it’s taught now, using the KnowAtom curriculum. In the past, every student did the same experiment, or in many cases, watched their teacher demonstrate the experiment because they didn’t have enough materials for hands-on learning to take place. The students would “watch, comment, or record” during the teacher’s demonstration.
Teachers Encourage Differentiation and Promote Active Participation in Hands-on Science Discovery
Today, students are experiencing science using constructivist teaching and the 5e’s, a dramatically different model of collaborative, and hands-on learning. Promoting teamwork and diversity of thought through hands-on investigation, students are encouraged to come up with their own ideas and hypotheses, as well as processes for testing them. Together, students experiment, try different ways to solve problems, work together to overcome obstacles, and learn core science competences while strengthening reading, writing, math, and teamwork skills.
Professional Development Improves Teaching Practices and Beliefs About Student Learning
Teachers in the study also reported KnowAtom’s professional development a major shift in their own teaching processes and beliefs about how much students can learn when given more opportunities to take the lead. Instead of pre-defined classroom activities where all students are encouraged to take the same route and report the same results, KnowAtom’s curriculum gives students more choice in the classroom and rewards a variety of outcomes.
Elementary and Middle School Students Develop Vital Life-skills
When students come up with their own investigation questions and processes, different student groups can be working towards different answers using the same materials and framework. When they meet obstacles, the students are encouraged to work together to overcome them. Sometimes the journey is worth much more than the destination. That’s because this journey is developing students’ thinking skills, confidence, and willingness to engage in intellectual risk-taking.
Science is Now a Strength for English Learners
One teacher shared that her teaching model for English language learners (ELs) includes previewing new words using KnowAtom’s visual vocabulary, to help students master the communication needed to accomplish the hands-on learning tasks before they begin. Using this strategy, she reported an increase in classroom discussions that used key science vocabulary and “strong academic language.” Strengthening core reading, writing and math skills while learning science is another key result of implementing the KnowAtom curriculum that Dr. Waters found in her research.
Teachers’ Skillful Questioning Puts Student Thinking at The Center of Learning, Replaces Traditional Show-and-Tell Practices
Using KnowAtom, science teachers became facilitators of their students’ collaborative learning, rather than lecturers. Dr. Water’s reported teacher participants saying: “Nobody asks me anymore, What do we do next? Oh, you just look on the science poster. What is the Scientific Method? So they know; they ask each other.” This was a major shift in teaching practices for some of the study participants. These teachers reported that allowing students to be at different places in their labs, but all working towards an outcome together, helped improve active engagement and made students more accountable for the choices they made throughout the experiments.
New Authentic Student Learning Environment Leads To Authentic Student Assessment
Teachers shared that their testing methods changed as well. After implementing KnowAtom’s curriculum, testing was differentiated for students, with less “one right answer” required and more examples of students given real-world scenarios to model their knowledge and provide evidence for their claims. The teachers began to expect a higher-level application of science vocabulary and core competencies from students who were given the opportunity to respond with diverse answers.
With KnowAtom Students Learn How To Take the Lead in Their Own Learning
Using the KnowAtom curriculum, students take the lead in their own learning. Rather than being given information by teachers, students are encouraged to discover core competencies within a framework of phenomena and systems. Rather than reading and recalling facts, students discuss what they think about what they’ve read, challenge and question the material as well as each other, and identify diverse connections to information. Teachers who use KnowAtom change their practices and beliefs as well, becoming coaches and facilitators who help students experience the real-world application and excitement of science discovery. Learn how you can improve student engagement by downloading a free sample of KnowAtom’s NGSS designed curriculum today!