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Inquiry Strategies

Labs, Labs, Labs
Inquiry Starters Quick Labs Full Labs Data Analysis Virtual Labs Stations Lab Practicals

Labs: An Integral Part Of The Lesson
Labs are not separate from the lesson. Incorporate labs at the point of learning. Use labs constantly. Analyze the data. Incorporate the data and conclusions of the labs into the subsequent learning Have students design their own experiments

Follow-up on Labs
Check for understanding on the lab. Give a lab quiz. Let students use their lab papers. Ask top-down questions.

Active Reading / Note Taking Strategies
KWL Word Splash Jigsaw Reading Combination Notes Cornell Notes
Active Reading Strategies create anticipation for reading selections and reflection on what students have read. All of these can be used with cooperative learning exercises

KWL –Know –Want to Know-Learned
Have students read a section of the text or a related article and have them answer the following questions:
What is something I Already Knew? What is something I Want to Know? What is something I Learned?

KWL –Know –Want to Know-Learned


Word Splash
A word splash is a collection of key words or concepts chosen from a passage or chapter that students are about to read. This strategy gives students a chance to relate the new words or concepts to the main topic of the reading.

Jigsaw Reading
In a jigsaw activity, you learn something in one group, and then bring your expert knowledge to another group. 1. Become part of a group of experts 2. Share your expertise with your team.

Combination Notes
Combination notes are particularly useful for students who learn well through visuals. By adding a sketch to an informal outline, students draw a picture to help them understand and recall information.

Combination Notes
Additional Formats: Column One Major Points Outline General Column Two Minor Points Examples Detail

Cornell Notes
In the right hand column of the chart, write an outline of the section. After writing the outline, list key words from the section in the left hand column. At the bottom of the page, write a summary of the outline.

Key Words:


Conceptualization Strategies
Main Idea Webs Cluster Diagrams Y Diagrams Sequence Diagrams Concept Maps



Main Idea Web
A main idea web connects important concepts and details. Students can increase the number of boxes to include more information as needed.

Main Idea Web
Carbohydrates / Polysaccharides Proteins

Types of Organic Macromolecules


Nucleic Acids

Cluster Diagrams
A cluster diagram is a flexible method of picturing the relationships among ideas. Cluster diagrams are also called word webs. They are useful for generating ideas and brainstorming. As students make clusters, words and ideas that they hadn’t thought of being connected before suddenly appear as patterns. Cluster diagrams can be a great way for students to acquire new vocabulary. You can introduce the concept of cluster diagrams by reading the following points aloud or writing them on the board: 1. Draw a large circle in the middle of the sheet of paper. Write the main topic in the circle. 2. Draw one to four medium size circles connected to the large circle by lines. Write a word related to the main idea inside the circles. Point out that the number of circles can vary based on the information.

Cluster Diagrams

Y Diagrams

Sequence Diagrams


Concept Maps
Concept mapping can be challenging for students, but it is an excellent skill for learning science concepts. The process of figuring out how to map out a concept can in itself help students learn the concept—and the map then becomes an excellent study tool for later on. In the textbook, the main ideas or concepts can often be found in the blue headings. A good strategy is to use nouns from these concepts in the ovals, and use the verb or verbs on the lines. Introduce the use of concept maps by reading or writing on the board the following statement:

Concept Maps
Four ways that information can clarify a concept are by • explaining a process • identifying effects • providing examples • dividing a concept into parts

Writing Strategies
Quick Write / Pair Share RAFT Summary Content Frames Analogies Position Papers

Quick Write / Pair Share
Think and write down what you know or have learned about a particular topic. After you have written down your thoughts and the facilitator have given the signal, “pair” with another person with another person and share your thoughts on the topic. When the facilitator gives the signal, “pair” with another “pair” and do the same. As a foursome, come up with a summary list of your thoughts.

RAFT Summary
The goal of this strategy is to have students think about their perspective on the topic and their audience. See the following examples.

Content Frames: Chemical Bonds
Bond Type Nature of Bond Example Relative strength compared to other types of bonds

Ionic Bonds

Covalent Bonds

Hydrogen Bonds


Content Frames: Organic Molecules
Group Carbohydrates Atomic Elements Monomer/Base Unit Sub Groups Monosaccharide/ Simple Sugar Disaccharide/ Compound Sugar Polysaccharide Lipids Unsaturated Fats Saturated Fats Steroids Proteins Nucleic Acids No subgroup DNA RNA Description Functions Examples

An analogy is an extended comparison between two subjects. It is often used to help explain unfamiliar concepts, theories, and words by comparing them to more familiar ones. For example, one can compare Earth’s layers to the layers of a hard-boiled egg. After students gain experience in using analogies, ask them to list another process, concept, or theory and think of their own analogies.

Suppose that photosynthesis or cellular respiration takes place in a factory. You are a tour guide at the factory, explaining each step of the process to a group of visitors. Using analogies, describe what happens at each step or “in each section of the factory.” Be sure to include important details of the process you select.

Position Papers
Position papers allow the students to do research on a controversial or debatable topic and then write their position on the topic based on their research and on their personal opinions. Guidelines should be given along with rubrics so students have a clear idea of the teachers expectations.

Connecting Science to the Real World
News Links Case Studies Community and Education Projects Issue Responses

News Links
There are a variety of sources for current updates on science in the news. Many of these feature short articles on the topics we are teaching on in our classrooms. These keep our teaching relevant and often engage students. RSS feeds are available to update you. Cooperative learning strategies and active reading strategies should be used with current news.


Case Studies
These are problem based learning exercises. They have been used for years in some disciplines like medicine and law, but have been shown in research to have a definite impact on learning science. For further information go to The National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science

Community and Education Projects
These are hands on projects that students choose to get involved in or that you set up as a full class activity. Contact your local Department of Natural Resources, Community Government Office, University Science Department, and Local Corporations.

Issue Responses
These are similar to position papers, but relate to a current issue in the community, state, or nation where students get involved in an issue of importance through letter writing or project involvement. This includes research into the area of interest.
Examples: Development of a Wetland Community Environmental Decisions

Small Scale Large Scale

Small Scale Modeling

Large Scale Modeling
Have students actually role play concepts. Examples: DNA Replication, RNA Transcription Predator/Prey Relationships


Active Assessment
Quick Check – Card Responses Quick Check – Other Forms Interactive Review and Assessment

Quick Checks – Card Responses
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Protein synthesis occurs at the Golgi Complex. Mitosis is the cell division that produces two identical daughter cells. Global Warming is a figment of the imagination and Al Gore. Biology is the Science of the 21st Century. Gymnosperms include evergreens and liverworts. Competition in generally occurs within an individual population. McDougal Littell Science Rocks. Enough Already.

Technology Strategies
Creating Websites Classroom Blogs Online Partnerships Interactive Websites

Classroom Blogs
A Blog is a web log that allows topics to be posted and commented upon. A good site to try for your first classroom blog is

Online Partnerships
Garbage on the Grass Competition This program enlists junior high and senior high schools around the country to audit one days worth of trash and develop plans to reduce the waste stream at their school.

Interactive Websites
There are a multitude of websites from publishers, educational institutions and organizations, and businesses that include very valuable interactive formats that support a variety of learning styles and topics. Students often find these engaging as well as adding to their understanding through visualization and interaction.


Other Interactive Websites - National Science Teachers Assoc - National Association of Biology Teachers - American Chemical Society National Institute for Environment Health Science - PBS – National Science Digital Library – National Science Foundation National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science

Summary of Active Learning Strategies
Inquiry Activities Reading Strategies Conceptualization Writing Strategies Connections to the Real World Modeling Active Assessment Technology Connections