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Supporting Grade 5-8 Students in Constructing Explanations in Science: The Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning Framework for Talk and Writing, 1st edition

  • Katherine L. McNeill
  • Joseph S. Krajcik

Published by Pearson (January 3rd 2011) - Copyright © 2012

1st edition

Supporting Grade 5-8 Students in Constructing Explanations in Science: The Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning Framework for Talk and Writing

ISBN-13: 9780137043453

Includes: Paperback
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  • Paperback

    You'll get a bound printed text.



Katherine L. McNeill and Joseph Krajcik

Supporting Grade 5-8 Students in Constructing Explanations in Science:

The Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning Framework for Talk and Writing


By providing a variety of strategies, scenarios, examples of student writing, classroom video clips from across all science content areas, rubrics, and guidelines for designing assessment items, Supporting Grade 5-8 Students in Constructing Explanations in Science: The Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning Framework for Talk and Writing provides teachers with the tools to successfully incorporate scientific explanation in their own classrooms.


Grounded in NSF-funded research, this book/DVD supports middle grades science teachers with an instructional framework that breaks down the complex practice of scientific explanation into four components—claim, evidence, reasoning, and rebuttal—and provides concrete examples of what this scientific inquiry practice looks like when it is successfully implemented in real classrooms. The chapters guide teachers step by step through presenting the framework for students, creating learning tasks that connect scientific explanation writing to lessons, providing curricular scaffolds (that fade over time) to support students in their writing, critiquing explanations and providing students with feedback, developing scientific explanation assessment tasks, and using the information from assessment tasks to inform instruction.




“I would encourage others to use it as a resource for a professional learning community or department discussion group and the like… absolutely I would recommend it — why? it is simply good for our students’ developing understanding of science…”

- Pamela M. Pelletier, Senior Program Director, Science K-12, Boston Public Schools, Boston, Massachusetts


"[This book] can easily be used to guide middle school teams to collaboratively work together to ask higher order thinking questions in any core content area.  This type of questioning leads to great classroom discourse, therefore engaging students in using claims, evidence, and reasoning."

- Kendra Walters Durham, Science Teacher, Wester Middle School, Frisco, Texas



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 helping students with diverse backgrounds become interested in science and learn both science content and scientific inquiry practices. Specifically, she has recently focused on how to support students in engaging in scientific explanation and argumentation in both talk and writing.  Her research has been generously funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  She has published numerous book chapters and journal articles from this work, including articles in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Science Education, The Journal of the Learning Sciences, and Internati

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Importance of Supporting Students in Scientific Explanation

1.1.   The role of explanations in science

1.2.   Scientific explanations in the classroom

1.3.   Benefits of scientific explanations

1.4.   Alignment with the national science standards

1.5.   Student challenges with scientific explanations

1.6.   Check Point

1.7.   Study Group Questions


Chapter 2: Framework for Constructing Scientific Explanations

2.1.   Students’ understandings of scientific explanations

2.2.   Framework for constructing scientific explanations

2.3.   Video Example – Introducing the instructional framework

2.4.   Examples of scientific explanations

2.5.   Increasing the complexity of the framework over time

2.6.   Benefits of the framework for all learners

2.7.   Check Point

2.8.   Study Group Questions


Chapter 3: Designing Learning Tasks for Your Science Curriculum

3.1.   Considerations for designing learning tasks

3.2.   Step 1: Identify opportunities in the curriculum

3.3.   Examples of learning tasks

3.4.   Step 2: Design complexity of the learning task

3.5.   Step 3: Create Classroom Support

3.6.   Check Point

3.7.   Study Group Questions


Chapter 4: Teaching Strategies to Integrate into Classroom Instruction

4.1.   Teaching strategies

4.2.   Supporting all learners

4.3.   Check Point

4.4.   Study Group Questions


Chapter 5: Developing Assessment Tasks and Rubrics

5.1.   Overview of the development process

5.2.   Step 1: Identify and unpack the content standard

5.3.   Step 2: Select scientific explanation level of complexity

5.4.   Step 3: Create learning performances

5.5.   Step 4: Write the assessment task

5.6.   Step 5: Review the assessment task

5.7.   Step 6: Develop specific rubric

5.8.   Check Point

5.9.   Study Group Questions


Chapter 6: Using Rubrics and Student Data to Inform Instruction

6.1.    Role of assessment in creating a supportive learning environment

6.2.   Using rubrics to support student learning

6.3.   Providing students with feedback

6.4.   Check Point

6.5.   Study G

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