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Inquiry-Based Science Unit Development

Appropriate for science educators K-8

About this Course:

Students often love science – the wonder, the experimentation, the chance to ask and answer some interesting questions.  For teachers, science can often be exciting and fun as well, but finding the time, resources, and knowledge to plan for inquiry-based science units can be daunting.  In this week long course, we will engage in science inquiry as adult learners in order to become comfortable and confident with inquiry-based science instruction and to plan for it in our instruction.  Armed with this understanding we will examine and refine a science unit of your choice using the Vermont Grade Expectations for Science, backwards design, Curriculum Topic Study, and other resources so that you can return to school with a well thought out science unit complete with ideas for assessment and inquiry-based learning activities.  The use of the book Primary Science, Taking the Plunge by Wynne Harlen, access to many other wonderful science resources, and an opportunity to work with other K-8 teachers will help make this a valuable experience.

Learning Outcomes:

During this course participants will:

  • Experience science inquiry as adult learners
  • Use frameworks to understand the cycle of inquiry.
  • Learn and use a process for aligning units with the grade expectations and curriculum using Curriculum Topic Study and Understanding by Design.
  • Complete at least one unit plan based on your district or school curriculum that includes learning objectives, science background information, teaching and assessment strategies, and a list of resources.
  • Read, reflect, and discuss issues surrounding best practices in science instruction

About the Instructor:

Renee Affolter has worked for the Vermont Science Initiative since 2003 as a mentor to teachers throughout the state. She has been able to apply her Masters in Science Education from UC Berkeley and her high school and middle school teaching experience to helping teachers improve science instruction in their classrooms. Renee is also responsible for teaching Best Practice in Science Education, Action Research, and Science Assessment courses for VSI. Most recently, Renee worked as a facilitator for Burlington’s district wide professional development in science and is providing training at Union Elementary School in Montpelier.