FACTS Classroom Components
NOTE: This program has a new website. Please visit www.factsnsf.org for the most updated version of this work and curriculum.
General Weekly Schedule
Monday: Questioning/Argumentation – use of data dives to help students develop their initial ideas about how a natural phenomenon functions. Use of ‘what do we know/not know’ discussion to develop abilities for scientific argumentation. (How would you explain this given what you already know?)
Tuesday: Questioning/Investigating/Argumentation– use of short videos, notes, and discussion to address previous day’s questions and reach an initial consensus. (How does this compare to what you initially thought about this topic?)
Wednesday: Investigating/Argumentation – use of inquiry-based investigations to test ideas from previous day. (Were you able to accurately predict and explain the results from your investigation?)
Thursday: Explaining – use of developed knowledge to address/explain big questions. (Can you effectively explain how a phenomenon occurs using what you learned and experienced this week?)
Friday: Explaining/Connecting – addressing claims made by individuals. Then using real-world experiences to connect classroom topics to relevant examples and prepare students to enter real world situations. (Can you connect what you have learned to real-world claims and experiences?)
Data Dives – opportunities for students to utilize real data from current or previous research in a scaffolded fashion to form initial ideas about natural phenomena.
What Do We Know/Not Know Discussion – discussions that elicit students’ prior conceptions and theories about the natural world and enable them to identify limits to their prior knowledge in a manner to help them develop skills of scientific argumentation.
Nutshell Video – short (3 min) videos that sum up the big ideas of the week in a quick video.
Notes – brief interactive notes that accompany the week’s major themes and big questions and enable student learning in a scaffolded, interactive manner. The notes are accompanied by guided notesheets that draw explicit connections between the broad concepts that unify questions and weekly themes.
Wednesday Inquiry-Based Labs – Opportunities for students to apply a systems-based knowledge of a natural phenomenon to real-world questions and situations. Many occur in a school-based habitat.
SIQ – Short Individual Quiz. Brief quizzes (<20 questions) that are a mix of multiple choice and short answer justification completed individually by students to help ensure individual accountability.
GQ – Group Quiz – These are group quizzes that utilize one major “Big Idea” question that students respond to as a team using a short answer or essay format. The Big Idea question should specifically relate back to material covered on Monday and Tuesday.
Weekly Reflection – Bell-ringer activities in which students reflect on the material of that week in a weekly journal.
Weekly Wrap-up/4 Claims – Short 1-question quizzes in which students assess and respond to the claims of four individuals about a Big Idea question. Students would individually assess the four claims and then provide a written justification in groups.
DIG – Domain Interest Group. These are opportunities for students to work in small groups related to personal/career interests and how they pertain to the content of the course (e.g. how does pollution affect considerations that an engineer/ag producer/health professional/etc. might consider).
SCE – Supervised Career Experience. A semester-long portfolio project in which students gain 15+ hours of experiential career experience through job shadowing, part-time employment, service activities, research, interviews of professionals in their intended field, etc. The portfolio also includes in-class components such as career and college profiles, resumes and cover letters, and job interviews.
Bell-Ringer – Short activities that students complete and finish within the first five minutes of class time as a means for formative assessment and development of deeper student comprehension.
WCRs (Whole-class Revisions) – taking a sample written response from an anonymous student and work as a class to improve the answer, with opportunity for individual students to revise their own answers afterwards.
Click Here to See a Day-By-Day summary of the tentative curriculum (in progress).
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The design of this class is to guide students along a conceptual path each week. Students begin by being Questioners. They utilize data from experiments to develop their evidence-based argumentation skills. They then address core concepts to make sense of the data they encountered and revisit their initial ideas to determine their validity and make revisions.
Students then move on to become Investigators. They form questions, develop hypotheses, articulate a rationale, design a protocol for a given experiment, and then conduct the experiment and gather data. From the data, they refine their initial arguments based on their hypotheses. It is at this point that students move on to becoming Explainers. They apply their knowledge to addressing larger scientific phenomena. They are no longer addressing the evidence from a specific scenario; they are developing models that help them to explain the 'big ideas' in ecology and natural resources.
Students then use their explanations and models to connect the material to real-world examples as they reach the end of the week. They address competing claims about real questions and then explore how their future lives and career choices might address the topic of that week. With their ability to Connect to the real world, students can better understand, judge, and use science in productive ways that are relevant to their future lives.
This weekly progression matters deeply for students' scientifically literacy. Students cannot become scientifically literate without the ability to collect, analyze, and makes sense of data. Data is not evidence unless students can validly find patterns in that data. Patterns in data are not evidence unless those patterns can be verified and explained as part of a larger scientific model. Models are meaningless to a student unless they can connect those models to situations they will encounter in their lives.