The first dimension in 3D teaching is that of Science and Engineering Practices - also knows as SEPs. So what are those practices and how can I use them in planning lessons?
•Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
•Developing and using models (a model does not have to be something like a diorama - a drawing, a video, graphic organizer, writing piece, etc. etc. counts as a model
•Planning and carrying out investigations
•Analyzing and interpreting data
•Using mathematics and computational thinking
•Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
•Engaging in argument from evidence
•Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
(A Framework for K-12 Science Education, pg. 3)
If you haven't read A Framework for K-12 Science Education yet you definitely need to either purchase a copy or download the free PDF. See my post on 3D teaching for details on that. You are probably already using SEPs in your science lessons but if you read up on them a little and begin to purposefully choose at least one to list in each lesson plan you will find your lessons begin to come together in a way that will make you and your students happier. It all starts to make sense if you just take a deep breath and get started. Choose a phenomenon to be the jumping off point for your lesson (see my post on that if you are freaked out by phenomenon), then choose at least one element from each of the dimensions of 3D teaching to tag onto your lesson. If you aren't sure which ones to choose - just pick one. Get started. You will get better at it and more comfortable with it as you go forward. If you are planning an experience for your students you are on the right track. They need to do something that will allow them to discover the standard content. Don't feed it to them. Let them make mistakes. Let them figure out how to deal with their mistakes. Encourage them to ask questions and then find the answers to their own questions. We have to teach them how to think and reason. It is not our job to teach them what to think. It is our responsibility to teach them how to think critically. This is possibly the greatest gift we can give our students. Teaching them to think and reason. How many things in their life will go better for them if they know how to approach a problem logically and figure out how to deal with it on their own? Planning projects for my students based on phenomenon that they love to investigate has made teaching so much more enjoyable for me. And - my students are reaching way beyond the basic standard content and making real life connections that are making my heart so happy!
I know when they discover it they will remember it. They will retain the standard content because they have connected it to an experience they won't forget. So be brave - get started providing experiences for your students so that learning will last a lifetime.
Little Science Bird
M Ed. Instructional Design