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  5. What's Your Evidence? Engaging K-5 Students in Constructing Explanations in Science (Subscription)

What's Your Evidence?: Engaging K-5 Children in Constructing Explanations in Science, 1st edition

  • Katherine L. McNeill
  • Carla L. Zembal-Saul
  • Kimber Hershberger
What's Your Evidence? Engaging K-5 Students in Constructing Explanations in Science (Subscription)

ISBN-13: 9780133120578

Includes: eText

1st edition

Published by Pearson (February 14th 2012) - Copyright © 2013

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    A digital version of the text you can personalize and read online or offline.


This is the eBook of the printed book and may not include any media, website access codes, or print supplements that may come packaged with the bound book.

By providing a variety of strategies, scenarios, student samples, classroom video clips from across all science content areas, rubrics, and guidelines this book provides 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 all students including ELLs and students with special needs, developing scientific explanation assessment tasks, and using the information from assessment tasks to inform instruction.




All of the video clips associated with this text were filmed in elementary grade classrooms in central, rural Pennsylvania. None of the lessons were staged or scripted. The video was not professionally recorded or produced given that our aim was to be as non-intrusive as possible in the classrooms in which we were guests. Permissions were secured for all students and teachers appearing in the video clips. We hope those that view the videos are as grateful as we are that these teachers were willing to share their attempts to integrate scientific explanation into their science teaching practices, providing us with insights that would not be possible without these images. They are the true heroes of this work. - Carla L. Zembal-Saul, Katherine McNeill, and Kimber Hershberger

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


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