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Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8
tions that they use in the course of their work. It enables students, for example, to click on a region and automatically view numerical data. Or the software may provide links between two different weather maps, for example, by providing comparative data on average temperature for a given region during June and September. Close linking of multiple elements for students, visual representations of patterns, as well as simple summary statistics (e.g., cell-by-cell temperatures, average temperature on a given date) can help students uncover important relationships that underpin a scientific understanding of phenomena. The Progress Portfolio tool structures students’ reflections, allowing them to capture, annotate, and organize information and create presentations from their data (Loh et al., 2001). It also allows them to chart their progress through the investigation. As students view data in the WorldWatcher, they are cued to reflect on relevant parts of the data representation by the Progress Portfolio. For example, students examining the influence of large bodies of water on land temperature would make focused observations of coastal areas on the world map illuminated with colored heat bands. Then they would be prompted to examine specific geographic features, to record a pattern of data, and to draw conclusions from it. Used together, these tools can help students see patterns clearly and interpret them in light of the intended learning outcomes by focusing their observations and cueing them to interpret data in scientifically viable ways.
Supporting Articulation and Reflection
Articulation and reflection are mutually supportive processes that are at the core of the scientific enterprise, and they are critical to the four strands of scientific thinking. In scientific practice, constructing and testing knowledge claims require a focus on articulating those claims, that is, developing clear statements of how and why phenomena occur. Argumentation requires articulating claims and teasing apart when there is agreement or divergence among different claims.
Reflection is critical to a complex cognitive process, such as managing an investigation. Researchers have documented that children repeat experiments and forge local interpretations of current results without connecting to prior hypotheses (Schauble et al, 1991; Klahr, 2000). To harness their investment in experimentation and focus their interpretations, children need regular opportunities to reflect. Reflection helps students monitor their understanding and track progress of their investigations. It also helps them solve problems along the way—identifying problems with current plans, rethinking plans, and keeping track of pending goals.
Supports for articulation and reflection have been a focus of instructional guidance and scaffolding design efforts. For example, in the Thinkertools work, White and Frederiksen have demonstrated students’ increased suc-