What's Your Evidence? Engaging K-5 Children in Constructing Explanations in Science

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-02-14
  • Publisher: Pearson

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Supplemental Materials

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By providing a variety of strategies, scenarios, student samples, classroom video clips from across all science content areas, rubrics, and guidelines this bookprovides teachers with the tools to successfully support young scientists to use evidence to construct scientific explanations. With the view that children are capable young scientists, authors encourage science teaching in ways that nurture students' curiosity about how the natural world works including research-based approaches to support all K-5 children constructing scientific explanations via talk and writing. Grounded in NSF-funded research, this book/DVD provides K-5 teachers with a framework for explanation (Claim, Evidence, Reasoning) that they can use to organize everything from planning to instructional strategies and from scaffolds to assessment. Because the framework addresses not only having students learn scientific explanations but also construct them from evidence and evaluate them, it is considered to build upon the new NRC framework for K-12 science education, the national standards, and reform documents in science education, as well as national standards in literacy around argumentation and persuasion, including the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2010).The chapters guide teachers step by step through presenting the framework for students, identifying opportunities to incorporate scientific explanation into lessons, providing curricular scaffolds (that fade over time) to support allstudents including ELLs and students with special needs, developing scientific explanation assessment tasks, and using the information from assessment tasks to inform instruction.

Author Biography

Carla Zembal-Saul is a Professor of science education in the College of Education at Penn State where she holds the Kahn Professorship in STEM Education and currently serves as head of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. A former middle school science teacher, she has been involved in school-university partnership work for more than fifteen years, and most of her teaching, scholarship, and service take place in that context. Her research focuses on K-6 teacher learning as they engage in professional development aimed at supporting students in talking and writing evidence-based arguments in science. Examining classroom discourse is a fundamental aspect of Professor Zembal-Saul’s work and she employs video analysis as both a research tool and a pedagogical approach for working with teachers. She has published her research findings in numerous book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals, and she is active in professional organizations, including the National Association for Research in Science Teaching and the National Science Teachers Association. Carla Zembal-Saul earned her doctorate at the University of Michigan.


Katherine L. McNeill is an Assistant Professor of science education at Boston College. A former middle school science teacher, she received her doctorate in science education from the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on how to support students with diverse backgrounds in engaging in scientific explanation and argumentation in both talk and writing. Her research has been generously funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and from this work, she has published a book on supporting middle school students, numerous book chapters, and articles in a variety of journals including the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Science Education, The Journal of the Learning Sciences, and the International Journal of Science Education. In 2011, Professor McNeill received the Early Career Research Award from NARST. She has also conducted numerous workshops at the annual meeting of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and for school districts including the Detroit Public Schools and the Boston Public Schools.


Kimber Hershberger is currently a third grade teacher in the State College Area School District (SCASD) in Pennsylvania. She also serves as co-instructor for the science methods course and a mentor teacher for the Penn State – SCASD Professional Development School Partnership. Her involvement in a local professional learning community that focuses on incorporating content storyline and the CER framework in science teaching has been a highlight of her work. She holds degrees from Juniata College (B.S., elementary education) and Penn State University (M.Ed., science education). Kimber Hershberger has co-authored several articles for NSTA journals, including Science and Children and Science Scope. In addition, she has presented numerous times at the annual conference of the National Science Teachers Association, including sessions at the Research Dissemination Conference, about her work on how to scaffold students’ use of claims and evidence through science talks and journals. She loves visiting interesting places like the Galapagos Islands, India, Italy, and Japan and sharing her travel adventures with her students.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Importance of Engaging K-5 Students in Scientific Explanation

     Introduction to engaging K-5 students in scientific explanation

     Why teach children to construct scientific explanations?

     Scientific explanations in the classroom

     Connecting science and literacy through scientific explanation

     Benefits of engaging students in scientific explanations

             Understanding science concepts

             Participating in scientific practices

             Using evidence to communicate convincingly

             Learning about the nature of science

     Benefits of scientific explanation for teachers

     What to expect in elementary grades

     Check Point

     Study Group Questions


Chapter 2: Framework for Explanation-Driven Science

    Framework for explanation-driven science





    Video Example – Introducing the instructional framework

    Examples of scientific explanations

            Life science example

            Earth science example

            Physical science example

    Increasing the complexity of the framework over time

            Variation #1: Claim and evidence

            Variation #2: Using multiple pieces evidence

            Variation #3: Providing reasoning

            Variation #4: Including a rebuttal

    Check Point

    Study Group Questions


Chapter 3: Planning for Explanation-Driven Science

    Coherent Science content storyline

    Essential features for constructing scientific explanations

            Scientific data

            Scientific principles

    Learning performances and examples

            First grade: Sound

            Second grade: State of matter

            Third and Fourth grade: Day/night and shadows

            Fifth grade: Water cycle

    Complexity of the learning task

            Openness of the question

            Characteristics of the data (type and amount)

    Check Point

    Study Group Questions


Chapter 4: Integrating Scientific Explanation into Classroom Instruction

    Instruction sequence for constructing scientific explanations

            Assessing prior knowledge

            Framing the question

            Making predictions

            Collecting, recording and interpreting data

            Constructing scientific explanations

    Instructional strategies for supporting the explanation building process

            Introducing the framework for explanation

            Using real world examples to introduce the framework

            KLEW(S) chart

            Critique a teacher example

            Debate a peer example

    Talk moves for scaffolding the construction of scientific explanations

    Check Point

    Study Group Questions


Chapter 5: Designing Assessment Tasks and Rubrics

    Overview of the development process

    Step 1: Identify and unpack the content standard

            Fourth grade writing case – Unpacking

            Third grade podcast case – Unpacking

    Step 2: Selecting scientific explanation level of complexity

            Fourth grade writing case – Level of complexity

            Third grade podcast case – Level of complexity

    Step 3: Create learning performances

            Fourth grade writing case – Learning performance

            Third grade podcast case – Learning performance

    Step 4: Write the assessment task

            Fourth grade writing case – Assessment task

            Third grade podcast case – Assessment task

    Step 5: Develop specific rubric

            Fourth grade writing case – Rubric

            Third grade podcast case – Rubric

    Using assessment data to inform instruction

            Fourth grade writing case – Examples

                Incomplete evidence and incomplete reasoning

                   Incomplete evidence and complete reasoning

            Third grade podcast case – Example

    Assessing informal science talk

    Check Point

    Study Group Questions


Chapter 6: Creating a Classroom Community of Young Scientists

    Norms of participation in science learning

            Active listening and patterns of talk

            The role of the scientific explanation framework

            A culture of constructive criticism

    Check Point

    Study Group Questions


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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