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Promoting Sensemaking Through an Impactful Instructional Sequence

Science Scope—January/February 2024

By ,

A valuable framework for promoting sensemaking includes the convergence of two independent ideas: (1) the focus of modern education on teaching for understanding and transfer, and (2) a purposeful sequence of instruction with those ends in mind. In essence, the sensemaking framework intends to help educators identify the big ideas we want students to understand at a deep level (e.g., construct evidence-based claims from firsthand experiences) to transfer their learning to new situations. This conception is perfectly aligned with the NGSS emphasis on teaching science through the conceptual lenses of Core Ideas (called Disciplinary Core Ideas [DCIs], Practices (Called Science and Engineering Practices [SEPs]) and Crosscutting Concepts (CCs) rather than fixating on factual information only. In addition, this view aligns with the four NSTA's critical attributes that including phenomena, science and engineering practices, student ideas, and science ideas (see The explore-before-explain instruction sequence helps teachers prioritize students constructing evidence-based claims in the sensemaking framework. What follows is a description of the four key planning considerations for sensemaking and how explore-before-explain teaching plays out in practice for teaching middle school students about thermal energy transfer.

5E Crosscutting Concepts Disciplinary Core Ideas NGSS Science and Engineering Practices Sensemaking Middle School

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