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Philosophy of Discipline, Content and Approach

Kelley Polasky

I have learned so much this semester in this course and through my practicum experience.

While I still have a lot to learn, I have developed a focused approach to teaching science. I believe that

science should be taught through inquiry. Teaching science through inquiry provides an authentic

learning experience where children are engaged and construct knowledge through exploration. “If

teachers view science as inquiry and children as constructive learners, they will want to teach science in

ways that engage students in the active construction of ideas and explanations and enhance their

abilities to inquire” (Bass, p.3). Teachers should activate student’s prior knowledge, scaffold information

at every phase of learning, encourage students to transfer their knowledge to other experiences, and

continually be assessing student learning. Science learners should be able to explore their inquiries in

hands-on ways. The 5-E model of science instruction is the approach which most closely connects with

my philosophy of science instruction; Engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate. I hope to

incorporate this model of science instruction in my future science classroom.

In the beginning of each science lesson, I want to hook my students. I want them to be engaged

in the task at hand. “The first component in the 5-E instructional model, engage, is intended to pique

curiosity and provide focus for the ensuing activities” (Bass, p. 91). During this initial engagement stage,

I hope to identify what prior conceptions students have about the topic of study, and tailor our learning

based on those conceptions. As we move through this engagement phase, I hope to facilitate the

opportunity for students to formulate a question which we’ll investigate. This question will guide, and

give us direction as we observe and experiment.

Next, we’ll move to the exploring phase. Students will be encouraged to gather evidence to

answer their question(s). “In the process of gathering data, students develop simple process skills such

as how to observe, measure, infer and predict” (Bass, p. 92). This process should be hands-on. Students
should be allowed to “cut, connect, switch, pour, tie, hold and hook” (Bass, pg. 92). Providing

opportunities for students to experience science hands-on allows them to activate their mind in

meaningful ways. During this phase, students should also be recording their findings. One particular

way I’ve found it useful for students to document their data is by using a “I Notice and I Wonder” chart.

In the left-hand column students document what they notice, and in the right-hand column they record

questions which arise during the exploring phase.

After we’ve explored and gathered data, it’s time to explain what we’ve found. This is an

opportunity for students to use their prior knowledge, interpret the data they’ve collected, and

formulate a theory or explanation based on what they’ve found. “Building on the activities and

discussion of students, the teacher may use direct instruction, textbooks, and other means to formally

introduce scientific knowledge” (Bass, pg. 92). Students should be encouraged to reflect back to that

initial question.

It’s then time to elaborate. Students need to be able to access this new knowledge, and

applying what they’re learning to new concepts. During concept application, “learners are presented

with new learning tasks and called on to use their developing knowledge to negotiate the new task”

(Bass, pg. 93).

Finally, it’s time to evaluate. Students and teachers should evaluate the lesson, the objectives,

and the learning that took place. Evaluating and assessing “provide a basis for decisions related to how

to improve teaching and learning and are designed for the purpose of continual improvement of

learning and teaching” (Bass, pg. 93). Taking time to reflect on ways to improve for teachers and

students is a critical part of the learning process.

In conclusion, I hope to develop science instruction based on inquiry, hands-on exploration, and

thoughtful reflection about what was learned. The model of science instruction which most closely
embodies my philosophy of science instruction is the 5 E model – engage, explore, explain, elaborate

and evaluate. I look forward to the opportunity to facilitate an inquiry based science classroom.

Resources

Bass, J. & Contant, T. & Carin, A. (2009). Teaching Science as Inquiry. Boston, MA: Pearson.