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Making Scientific Sensemaking Visible

Science Scope—January/February 2024

Many teachers and schools are coming to recognize the importance of sensemaking in the science classroom. But what does an NGSS-informed sensemaking lesson look like in practice, and how might our students respond to this shift in our instruction? This article explores a sample lesson cycle involving sensemaking with an 8th-grade science classroom around a physics topic. The two-week lesson highlights the four elements of sensemaking: phenomena, science and engineering practices (SEPs), student ideas, and science ideas. Samples of student work and audio recordings of their discussions suggest that students engaged in critical thinking and collaboration as part of the sensemaking process as they researched to construct explanations and designed solutions around a local community problem. By centering students as agents for change, this lesson demonstrated how all students can create a multitude of viable solutions to real-world problems.

Crosscutting Concepts Disciplinary Core Ideas Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Practices Sensemaking Three-Dimensional Learning Middle School

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