Flight Above, Science Behind, and Teaching Beyond:
Developing a Sense of Place through Intergenerational and Multidisciplinary Science Learning on Bird Migration in the Understanding by Design Framework
The Science Learning Framework
The Science Learning Framework is the tools and resources developed at the University of Washington to help new teachers create meaningful, complex learning experiences for students. These ‘ambitious practices’ progresses through distinct stages of the learning experience that asks teachers to focus on unobservable processes that underlie phenomena in science education. Students are learning the ‘Big Ideas’ in science when scientific phenomena are linked to causal explanations, as opposed to acquiring content knowledge without inquiry.
The framework, developed by Windschitl, Thompson, and Braaten, begins with eliciting students prior understandings (partial or full) and alternative conceptions to help guide the instruction during the curriculum (2009). This check for understanding is revisited throughout the curriculum. Lessons can help students develop full understandings of the Big Ideas remedy damaging misconceptions that are often left unaddressed in current education. Student’s ideas are then explored through scientific inquiry-based lessons that are linked to Essential Questions and Enduring Understandings stated in the curriculum plans. To help students construct the causal explanations for phenomena they observe, teachers will press students to use theoretical events, processes, or entities to tell “why” the phenomena occurs (Windschitl, et al. 2009). Teachers build on prior knowledge and classroom activities to provide students with scientific evidence to help them refine the explanations for phenomena.
The Science Learning Framework is the pedagogy for teaching meaningful rich science education, while Understanding by Design is the guide for establishing goals, assessments, and lessons to throughout science learning.
Understanding by Design is often referred to as a design concept that they call ‘backwards’ from what teachers are familiar with. Teachers often are handed hundreds of activities for science education without guiding principles or Big Ideas. This design helps teachers establish the goals and links to standards, overarching/essential questions and enduring understandings that are gained from a well-arranged curriculum. Knowledge and experience in these curriculums can transfer to other learning experiences when activities are chosen that fit into the larger design, rather than the usual umbrella concepts we throw over a group of lessons without much forethought. The assessment for the curriculum is designed before the lessons. Understanding by Design is focused on student outcomes and the assessment should be a direct reflection of the goals in the curriculum outline. Finally, the lessons will be organized to meet these assessments and keep cohesion between different learning experiences. (McTighe J., and Wiggins G. 2006)