Primary Scientists: looking closely at our practice

Posted on: February 10th, 2014 by jnovakowski

A large group of primary teachers in our district are taking part in the third year of Primary Scientists, a professional learning series focusing on process-based science and initially created as an implementation series to support the development of the Coast Metro Science Performance Standards. Teachers are all engaging in looking closely at one aspect of their practice in terms of science teaching and learning with an overall group focus of thinking about how we assess process and inquiry-based science experiences.

Using the science performance standards and assessment tools from the current K-7 Science IRP and the teacher resource book we are using for this series, teachers are asked to try different ways of assessing science performance tasks.

Teachers have chosen different aspects of science to focus on this year as part of their own inquiries into their professional practice: taking learning outdoors, looking closely (a national collaborative project), the processes of science, observational drawing and place-based learning using indigenous knowledge.

Based on the Looking Closely books by Frank Serafini, several of the teachers created their own versions of the books with their students. With her grade one class at Garden City, Jenna Loewen created a class book using garden photographs and having the students brainstorm what they could be.

April Chan at Blair took her students outside to look closely and create a peekaboo page with a hole cut out on the front page to take a peek at the illustration the students did of something they observed.

Sharon Baldrey and Kathleen Ellis from Lee Elementary looked closely at ice with their kindergarten classes. After freezing blue-dyed water into globes of ice, the students used salt and flashlights to investigate the properties of ice and how it melts. The teachers commented on how engaged the students were and what great inquiry questions came up during their investigations. Amazing photos of an amazing experience!

Louesa Byrne’s K/1 class at Thompson looked closely at leaves in the fall and inspired by Ann Pelo’s book, The Language of Art, observed and represented the leaves in using multiple forms of art materials – liquid watercolours, crayon rubbings, technical drawings with fine line markers and creating leaf forms with wire.

April Chan at Blair did a similar focused study of leaves with a small group of primary students. The students used the PicCollage app on the iPads to document the different ways they created representations of their leaves.

So as we engage our students in looking closely at the world around them, we too are looking closely at student learning in science.

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