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The Best KWL Chart is Actually a Picture Thinking Routine

Sep 15, 2021 by Judy Higgins

What is a KWL chart, and how is it used in teaching science? Let's take a look first at what the 'KWL' stands for – it's an acronym for what students KNOW, WANT to know, and will LEARN during a lesson. KWL charts are graphic organizers that help students collect information before, during, and after a unit. Using a KWL graphic organizer supports the constructivist teaching model – the idea that deeper learning happens when students are actively involved in the learning process instead of passive recipients of new information.

When teachers use KWL charts to introduce new ideas and topics, they help students identify what they already know about the topic and better understand the objectives of the lesson. KWL charts can also be used by teachers to monitor student success. KWL charts help guide students through nonfiction texts, as they track their progress in three columns titled KNOW, WANT, and LEARNED. There are many different KWL chart format examples, and they can be used to teach a variety of topics and subject areas. I am going to share how I used a Picture-Thinking graphic organizer (one type of KWL chart) with the KnowAtom science curriculum to implement the Picture-Thinking reading strategy. This graphic organizer is even better than a KWL chart because students are working within a context to identify what they know, want to know, and what they've learned. I have been a teacher for about 20 years, and for the last five years of my teaching I have used the KnowAtom curriculum.


KWL Charts and Picture-Thinking Reading Comprehension

The picture-thinking routine is one of my favorite routines. I started using this in my classroom about two years ago, and it really made a huge difference in my students' engagement with nonfiction texts. When I made it part of my regular classroom routine, students started thinking in such different ways. I'm going to take you step-by-step through exactly how to implement this routine in your own classroom, using the Picture-Thinking graphic organizer to help.

What is a "picture thinker?" A picture thinker is someone who thinks more in pictures than in words or sounds. Incorporating the picture-thinking routine in your classroom will help not only those students who think "in pictures," it's a great way for all students to make strong connections between the context and new vocabulary words, concepts, and what they already know. Here's an example of a Picture-Thinking KWL graphic organizer I use in my classroom:

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards, interactive science, Inquiry Based Learning, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, science education, KWL Chart, Picture Thinking

Constructivism In the Classroom: Concept Mapping for NGSS

Aug 23, 2021 by Judy Higgins

As a science teacher for over 20 years, I’ve seen a lot of teaching strategies come and go. Today, the focus is on Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to help prepare students to join the workforce of the future. The teaching methods required by NGSS are based on constructivism – the idea that learners actively create new knowledge and understanding based on what they already know. Concept mapping is one way to help students link new ideas to knowledge they already have.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS Assessments, STEAM, interactive science, Professional Development, Inquiry Based Learning, STEAM Curriculum, Phenomena-led teaching, Next Generation Science, Implementing New Science Standards, NGSS-Designed Curriculum, Next Generation Science Classroom Instruction, science education, Remote Learning

Improving Teacher Expectations of What Students Can Learn with NGSS-Based Explorations

Jul 25, 2021 by Samantha Ozgood

An in depth look at the use of KnowAtom’s science curriculum by fourth and fifth grade teachers by Northeastern University researcher Dr. Tracy L. Waters revealed major changes in both teaching practices and the teacher’s expectations of what students can achieve. The educators who participated in Waters’ study expressed having higher expectations of their students after implementing the hands-on curriculum that aligns with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

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Topics: science and engineering practices, Inquiry Based Learning, Next Generation Science, NGSS-Designed Curriculum, New Standardized Testing

Iraqi Teachers Adopt KnowAtom to Create a Next Generation Science Experience for IDP Students K-8

Feb 17, 2019 by Sara Goodman

When Mahma was a child, he dreamed of being a teacher.

However, poverty made that dream out of reach to Mahma as he grew up. Instead, he became a farmer in Sinjar, a town in northern Iraq.

Then in 2014, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacked Sinjar and surrounding villages in what has been internationally recognized as the 74th attempted genocide of the Yazidi people. Tens of thousands of Yazidis, including Mahma, fled to escape ISIS.

Now, almost five years later, hundreds of Yazidi adults and thousands of Yazidi children have found hope in an unexpected place—inside the camps for internally displaced people (IDP) in the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI) where they’ve ended up.

This hope has come from an innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program for K-8 students that has taken root in the U.N. camps and surrounding schools. The STEM program, launched in 2015, is aimed at bringing relevant and lifelong skills to children living in the camps while at the same time helping them build skills to cope with conflict.

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Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards, international, Innovation, Inquiry Based Learning, STEM Education Policy, science education, engineering education, KRI

The Student Inquiry Experience

May 7, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

The next generation classroom environment needs to create this type of inquiry opportunity for the students to engage in the practices of science and engineering. Of key importance is the idea that their solution will be different from the solution created by the team next to them—and that it’s fine that they’re different. It’s all about giving students the individual opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the practices and content.

 

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Topics: Inquiry Based Learning

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