Dustin Williams's blog

Inquiry and Direct Instruction in the Age of NGSS

When it comes to the best approach for student learning, there seems to be two very divided camps: those who promote direct instruction and those who favor inquiry. I have been thinking a lot about this issue for several years now and decided to finally write my reflections down, based on 6 years of experience as a science teacher.

A Great Introduction to Stoichiometry

This lab is one of my favorite activities to do in my classes and I look forward to it every year. The lab is simple, requires limited supplies, students love it (i.e. high engagement level), and I have found it to really set students up for stoichiometry.

A “Science Reasoning Rubric” to Support Argumentative Writing

I put together a Science Reasoning Rubric that can be used for many writing prompts in a Chemistry class. It can be used whether a prompt is more suited toward a claim or an explanation. I like that the rubric can be used for lots of the writing tasks students will encounter in a Chemistry class. This means students get used to seeing it, and this consistency is helpful as students write explanations and claims throughout the year.

Toward an Accessible Set of Chemistry Core Ideas to Help Students Make Sense of Phenomena

NGSS crosscutting concepts and core ideas are intended to be used as evidence to support explanations and arguments. I have found several lists of Chemistry core ideas online, but I don’t think I would give the ones I have seen to my students because they are either too long or written with language that I don’t think is suitable for novice learners of Chemistry. I have compiled a list of the crosscutting concepts and 12 core ideas for high school Chemistry that my students could use to support the explanations and arguments I will be asking them to write. 

What is Reasoning?

I attended a professional development session on the NGSS earlier this week by Brett Moulding and Nicole Paulson based on the book they wrote with Rodger Bybee, A Vision and Plan for Science Teaching and Learning. The authors propose the “gathering-reasoning-communicating” (GRC) structure as a simplified way of thinking about the Science and Engineering Practices. Reasoning is the keystone of the GRC structure and the primary thing we want science students to be doing. “Gathering” provides the raw materials for reasoning and “communicating” helps us know that reasoning has taken place.