Learning activities

Oh Deer! Invasive Species and Ecosystem Modeling Game--with Data Analysis!

This lesson expands on the old favorite modeling game, Oh Deer!: Invasive Species Style by adding a data analysis component. Dig deeper by tracking changes in abundance of habitat resources, native, and invasive species over time.

Project Information
Grade Level: 
Middle school (grades 6-8)
Documents

Findings from the Field: A Middle School Journal of Science Research

Now Accepting Submissions for Volume 1!

Findings from the Field is a journal of scientific research produced exclusively by Middle School students. Help us to get this journal off the ground by submitting to the first issue! Participation will elevate student learning through writing about investigations, engage students in a community of student scientists through peer review, and provide an authentic audience for students’ work.

Timeline for Volume 1:
Submit articles for peer review: September 2017 through March 2018

Project Information
Grade Level: 
Middle school (grades 6-8)
Documents

Independent Ecology Investigation

This full unit of study structures a student-driven learning experience that has students defining a research question, planning a Vital Signs data investigation, analyzing and interpreting their data, and communicating their findings. Students are guided through group activities designed to develop background knowledge in relationships in ecosystems and skills around data collection and analysis. Students extend this work by applying the newly developed skills and concepts to a student-driven investigation which culminates in creating a product to share their results.

Project Information
Grade Level: 
Middle school (grades 6-8)
Documents

Formal Science Writing and Revision Tools: Results

Representing and describing data are challenging tasks. The tools included here support students in pulling together their results section, including choosing a graph and writing a results narrative. Resources include organizers, handouts to prompt student writing, and peer review forms for a results section of a science article.

Project Information
Grade Level: 
Middle school (grades 6-8)
Resources I used: 
These resources were pulled together by teachers participating in the Vital Signs Next Steps Institute: Launching Maine's First Middle School Journal of Scientific Research.
Documents

Formal Science Writing and Revision Tools: Abstracts

Abstracts are often the unfamiliar to students who have not written formal science articles. This minilesson breaks down the information in an abstract into clear, manageable components and provides tools for students to review and strengthen their work.

Project Information
Grade Level: 
Middle school (grades 6-8)
Resources I used: 
This lesson was created and tested by Glenn Powers and 5th through 8th grade science students at the Center for Teaching and Learning in Edgecomb.
Documents

Formal Science Writing and Revision Tools: Titles

The titles of science research articles have particular components that make them different from titles of other forms of writing. These fun and quick minilessons will help students understand the parts of a title and support them in creating their own.

Project Information
Grade Level: 
Middle school (grades 6-8)
Resources I used: 
These lessons were created and tested by Glenn Powers and the 5th through 8th grade science students at the Center for Teaching and Learning in Edgecomb.
Documents

Formal Science Writing and Revision Tools: Discussion and Conclusions

These writing and revision tools are designed to support scientific argumentation. Beginning with the conventional claim, evidence, and reasoning structures, these tools push beyond to encourage students to incorporate discussion of the certainty of their findings and alternative explanations. Resources include a graphic organizer and a new addition of the Vital Signs Scientific Conclusion Peer Review Tool.

Project Information
Grade Level: 
Middle school (grades 6-8)
Documents

Analyze Vital Signs Data Using Tuva--Japanese Knotweed Example

Tuva is an online tool that involves students in manipulating data to create meaningful visualizations. This lesson guides students through making meaning of the Japanese knotweed data from the Vital Signs database. There are also instructions including for exporting Vital Signs data and importing into Tuva so that it can be adapted for use for a variety of topics, provided there is enough data to work with. Teacher instructions and student handouts are included in the attached file.

Project Information
Grade Level: 
Middle school (grades 6-8)
Documents

Formal Science Writing and Revision Tools: Introductions

These tools are designed to support students in constructing and then revising an introduction to a science research article. These two modified versions of the same tools include graphic organizers to structure writing and a revision technique to ensure that the essential information (and nothing extra) is included. These handouts work great in conjunction with a background research jigsaw activity.

Project Information
Grade Level: 
Middle school (grades 6-8)
Resources I used: 
These tools were developed and tested by Glenn Powers and the 5th through 8th grade science students at the Center for Teaching and Learning in Edgecomb and adapted by Elissa Koskela of Belfast.
Documents

Background Research Jigsaw--Japanese Knotweed

Use this structure to support collaborative research. In one to two class periods, students work together to gather and share background information to inform an investigation. Links provided are specific to Japanese knotweed; however, this activity can easily be adapted for any Vital Signs investigation. This is a great activity to prepare students for writing an introduction for a science research article. Included on this page are teacher instructions and accompanying student handouts.

Project Information
Grade Level: 
Middle school (grades 6-8)
Documents
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