A participant observed that the LBD curriculum model emphasizes students’ need to know certain science concepts and processes and asked Krajcik whether the need to know also plays a role in the IQWST materials. Krajcik responded that each IQWST curriculum unit begins with a large driving question that builds not only coherence of learning activities but also students’ motivation. Typically, he said, the unit begins by engaging students in activities related to a phenomenon in order to see the importance of the driving question. For example, in one unit, the teacher asks students to close their eyes and then releases an odor into the classroom. In this unit, the students return several times to this opening encounter with the phenomenon of odor, building models to explain why something that is a source can reach their noses. Through this process, they gain understanding of the particulate nature of matter and the process of evaporation.
A participant asked whether students become more aware of their own acquisition of scientific processes through engagement with the curriculum models. Krajcik responded that the IQWST materials are extremely explicit about this. For example, when introducing the concept of scientific explanations, students are given a problem and a proposed explanation and invited to comment on the quality of the explanation. The materials explicitly describe what a scientific claim is, what constitutes evidence, how reasoning is used, and the role of each component in building a scientific explanation. Kolodner said that the LBD curriculum model uses the same approach, with explicit description of what a claim is and what constitutes evidence to support a claim. Students share their explanations with the class, discuss what makes one explanation better than another, and develop a whole-class explanation that they can all agree on. Krajcik said that the IQWST materials also engage students in publicly sharing their explanations and obtaining feedback from other students in order to improve their explanations. They encourage students to provide helpful feedback on other students’ explanations, such as noting if an explanation lacks evidence or reasoning.
Reflecting on the session and the previous day’s session on promising models (see Chapter 4), Parravano said that “there is very, very good indirect evidence … that these materials really are able to develop 21st century skills.” He noted that all of the presenters had emphasized the importance of fidelity in delivery of the curriculum models, commenting that this finding underlined the importance of the upcoming workshop session on teacher readiness for 21st century skills, discussed in Chapter 6.