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Making light work of gravity: Scaffolding middle schoolers’ thinking to help them understand gravitational lensing.

Science Scope—January/February 2024

By , , ,

Although the NGSS has helped teachers conceptualize teaching science in a more integrated way, effectively scaffolding students’ thinking within and across lessons can still be a challenge for any middle school science teacher. Thinking about the curriculum structure can be useful for scaffolding across lessons (Figure 1). While many curriculum structures exist (Posner, 2003), some structures are better at providing the teacher opportunities to promote sensemaking across lessons and units. For example, a spiral curriculum is where relevant prior concepts are revisited in order to connect them to new concepts. Revisiting concepts is meant to deepen students’ knowledge rather than merely repeating previous content (Harden, 1999). In our state, each middle grade has NGSS standards for life, physical, and earth/space science. We’ve found the spiral curriculum was useful to help students see connections across science disciplines. Our light unit (Table 1) comes before our unit on space science (Authors, 2018). In this article, we demonstrate how we scaffold students’ learning to help students make connections between lessons about light (MS-PS4-2) and gravity (partially addressing MS-ESS1-2). We use these experiences to help students understand gravitational lensing

Physical Science Sensemaking Teaching Strategies

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