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Growing Students' Meaning-Making

Germinating seeds provides opportunities to build teacher capacity for promoting sensemaking.

Science and Children—Fall 2023 (Volume 60, Issue 7)

By Patrick Brown, Jessica Fries-Gaither, and Kathy Renfrew

Growing Students' Meaning-Making

In this sensemaking lesson, K–2 students explore how different factors influence seed germination and explain the elements necessary to sprout. Notebook strategies are embedded throughout the explore-before-explain lesson to help students organize budding ideas. The class begins by engaging students’ initial ideas about factors needed for a seed to grow. The lesson is designed to provide students with firsthand experiences collecting data on seeds needing specific requirements to germinate. As students gather data from their explorations, they look for patterns and cause-and-effect relationships to construct and revise an explanation of what requirements seeds need to sprout and the factors that affect the growth of the germinated seeds (seedlings). With teacher guidance, students learn terms for specialized plant structures observed during their exploration. At the end of the lesson, students revisit their initial ideas and revise their claims using crosscutting concepts of patterns and cause and effect to construct a scientific explanation with evidence from their investigations. This article shares a model lesson (see Brown and Keeley 2023) and reflects on the key planning considerations connected to research to help elementary teachers and leaders consider instructional design from a more pedagogical perspective.

5E Crosscutting Concepts Pedagogy Sensemaking Teaching Strategies Three-Dimensional Learning Elementary

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