Visual Learning Connections - Focus on High School Science
Focus on High School Science
The role of high school science is to help students make discoveries about their world, while facilitating the development of more sophisticated problem-solving skills. These classes can be challenging for many students, as they frequently need help making sense of complex and abstract concepts as well as technical text, and data analysis.
Many high school science teachers rely on Inspiration® software to help their students comprehend this challenging coursework. With Inspiration and InspireData, students use graphic organizers and databases with plots and graphs, to visually represent concepts and ideas by gathering data and analyzing information, then organizing that information into a written report, presentation, database or slideshow. A proven strategy for improving academic performance across the curriculum, graphic organizers help high school science students understand abstract concepts, improve sequential thinking, comprehend complex text, and improve writing and presentation skills.
Graphic organizers help students understand how complex systems are organized.
Understanding abstract concepts
Many concepts in science cannot be directly observed, which can make them challenging for students to comprehend. Creating concept maps in Inspiration helps students visually break up abstract concepts into individual components. InspireData helps students analyze data quickly and easily by building plots. From there, students create connections among the pieces of information so they can understand the relationships between the parts of the whole. For example, in a lesson on chemical periodicity, a diagram helps students visualize the relationship between electron configuration and chemical behavior—illustrating how seemingly small changes have a powerful effect on the chemistry of an element.
Concept maps help students deepen their understanding of concepts and the interrelationships between components.
Improving sequential thinking
Understanding science requires students to engage in step-by-step, sequential thinking and to draw on concepts that they have previously studied. By having students use Inspiration to create a concept map of a scientific construct, a teacher can clearly see if students understand key ideas and how those ideas relate to one another. Reviewing student concept maps allows the teacher to pinpoint where students have mastery and where they need additional instruction.
Relationships between stages of a process are easily explained and understood when presented visually.
Comprehending complex text
Creating a graphic organizer helps students represent complex scientific text. By visually mapping out each idea as they read, students uncover hierarchies of relationships, separating key concepts from supporting ideas. Being able to view both the larger picture as well as the smaller components of an idea, theory or concept, helps students form a better overall understanding of how complex systems operate. This process of breaking down challenging text and mapping it by its components helps students integrate new concepts in with those they already understand.
Working in Diagram View helps students see how concepts are related, while the integrated Outline View provides an easy way to bring writing into the science curriculum.
Improving student writing and presentations
The key to clarity in writing about science is organization. Using Inspiration, students easily identify, manipulate and arrange their ideas. Visual diagrams developed through brainstorming and data gathering are instantly transformed into an outline that shows the same ideas in a textual format. In the Outline View, students organize and reorganize the flow of information to structure writing for papers and reports. With Inspiration's Presentation Manager, students can transform diagrams, mind maps and outlines into polished presentations that communicate ideas clearly and demonstrate understanding and knowledge.
Students can hyperlink their documents to relevant web resources, research data and other documents. Video and sound such as QuickTime® movies and MP3 files can be inserted and played directly from the Inspiration document. The easy-to-use Site Skeleton® export tool allows students to develop and organize a web site, then seamlessly convert it to html.
Develop Data Literacy
As students organize and analyze data, they ask meaningful questions and dig deeper to solve problems. They move beyond simply memorizing facts and start acquiring the skills of reasoning, inquiry and communication. This process builds data literacy and makes learning a richer, more meaningful experience. Learn more about how InspireData improves data literacy.
Integrating Inspiration and InspireData into the science classroom gives students the tools to analyze, interpret, illustrate and present complex scientific data and concepts. When their work is presented visually, students find the relationships between stages of a process and data analysis easier to understand and explain. Using concept maps, databases, and plots and graphs, students can deepen their understanding of ideas and abstract information while discovering the interrelationship between components. Inspiration and InspireData provide students and teachers a proven framework for meeting curriculum goals in science.
Inspiration Getting Started
Inspiration includes 80 templates specifically designed for use with science classes. These templates offer teachers a ready-made starting point for introducing visual learning strategies into the classroom, while providing students with an easy-to-understand structure for beginning their work.
One example is the Classification template, which develops the type of thinking skills frequently required in coursework aligned to state and national science standards. By following the template’s sequence, students practice the fundamental process of characterizing, classifying and grouping objects, concepts and organisms.
Other Inspiration templates include activities designed to help students design experiments, organize lab results and explore historical endeavors by creating biographies of scientists or major scientific innovations. All of the templates may be modified by teachers to meet a specific curricular need.
Inspiration Lesson Plan Book
The Thinking Classroom: Using Inspirationto Meet Curriculum Standards
Designed to support teachers as they help students develop their critical thinking strategies, each of the book's six sections includes an overview of a key cognitive strategy and its application in the major curriculum areas of language arts, science and social studies. This innovative teacher resource book takes a new approach by offering in-depth explanations of visual learning's role in mastering fundamental critical thinking skills:
- Determining cause and effect
- Making comparison
- Decoding ideas
- Generating questions
- Evaluating information
- Testing one's knowledge
Each of the six sections of the book provides teachers with a summary of a specific cognitive strategy, examples of templates and diagrams that students can use to apply the strategy to a wide-range of topics, and finally a sample lesson of the thinking skill in language arts, social studies and science. Lesson plans for each subject area provide all the information teachers need to model a thinking skill and help their students practice the strategy.
Standards-based teacher lesson plan books make it easy to integrate InspireData® and visual thinking and learning into science, mathematics and social studies curriculum. Teachers get practical ideas and step-by-step directions for engaging students in activities that encourage learning and thinking.
Developing Data Literacy with InspireData
Designed by educators, Developing Data Literacy with InspireData offers 27 content-rich, standards-aligned lessons to help teachers incorporate InspireData into their science, mathematics and social studies curriculum. Each hands-on lesson contains step-by-step instructions that can be easily adapted for students in grades 4-12 working individually or in teams. Help students become engaged as they explore and analyze data with these innovative standards-based lesson plans!
InspireData and Science: Question, Analyze and Predict InspireData and Science: Question, Analyze and Predict supports teachers as they help students develop the skills necessary to collect and analyze data, and predict outcomes. Created for grades 4-12, the book offers 20 lesson plans designed specifically to support science laboratory activities and Science instruction using InspireData 1.5. Aligned to McRel standards, the lessons focus on core content strands, including science as inquiry, nature of science, physical sciences, life sciences, and earth and space sciences, in contexts that develop the skills of data collection, analysis and prediction.
Each easy-to-use lesson includes suggested grade levels, standards alignment, a lesson description, step-by-step instructions, ideas for assessment, and adaptations for differentiating instruction and extending the lesson.
InspireData and Social Studies: Explore, Analyze and Understand InspireData and Social Studies: Explore, Analyze and Understand supports teachers as they help students explore and analyze data to better understand social studies content. Created for grades 4-12, the book offers 20 lesson plans aligned to academic standards and designed specifically to support Social Studies instruction using InspireData 1.5. Lessons focus on the core social studies content strands of history, geography, economics, and civics and government.
Suggested grade levels, standards alignment, a lesson description, step-by-step instructions, ideas for assessment, and adaptations for differentiating instruction and extending the lesson are included in each easy-to-use lesson.
Special thanks to the following for their invaluable contributions to this paper: Paul Rutherford, Ph.D., Principles of Engineering Instructor, Summit Technology Academy, Lee’s Summit, MO Leigh Zeitz, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Northern Iowa, College of Education, Cedar Falls, IA
Case Study Dr. Paul Rutherford—“Principles of engineering” teacher at Summit Technology Academy in Lee’s Summit, Missouri—uses Inspiration to help his students prepare for their field work. Teams of 3-4 students are partnered with staff at the local public works departments. The groups are charged with thinking through all of the issues involved with developing land for residential and business uses, including water and sewer requirements. The work requires that all of the students understand the fundamentals of force and how they apply to liquids in motion. Prior to both field work and any classroom lessons or activities, Rutherford has his students use Inspiration to create concept maps of their current knowledge of Newton’s Laws of Motion. After gathering and analyzing more data about Newton’s Laws through extensive class work, the students go back and create another concept map of those same principles. “Comparing the two concept maps lets both me and my students see their conceptual development,” Rutherford says. “After they’ve done the second concept map, their earlier misconceptions are plain to see. These Inspiration concept maps are building blocks from which they can have a meaningful and productive experience out in the field.”