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For science teachers looking to engage their students in a blended-learning program, eScience3000 does a nice job of combining both in-class and online learning. Even as kids move through the lessons at varying paces, teachers can bring them together in groups for collaborative investigations. Because of this, it may be helpful to have the supplies for multiple activities organized and accessible; this way, different groups can work based on their progress in the curriculum. Having a few clearly labeled shoe boxes around the classroom might be a convenient, low-tech solution for keeping things organized.
Throughout, it's important to group students appropriately for the lessons at hand, whether by ability level or by using a more capable peer model. To get the most out of the blended-learning opportunities, ensure that everyone has opportunities to work together and learn from one another.Continue reading Show less
Achieve3000's eScience3000 program is designed as a comprehensive, blended-learning curriculum for middle school science. As with many of Achieve3000's programs, the focus here is on students' literacy and reading comprehension as they relate to their achievement in science. In eScience3000, every lesson students encounter has tabs labeled Think, Read, Investigate, Review, and Apply. This is a clear attempt to help students follow a learning cycle. The Think tab provides a prompt designed to activate prior student knowledge. In the Read section, students proceed to take notes on a passage about the content.
The Investigate step moves away from the screen, as eScience3000 then encourages students to work together in offline investigation activities. Afterward, students go back online to answer questions under the Review and Apply tabs. Multiple-choice questions provide immediate feedback, while short-answer responses are submitted online to the teacher for grading. Every chapter also includes an online assessment.
eScience3000 allows kids to work at their own pace and has a nice balance of both online and collaborative offline learning. Further, for more advanced students -- those already adept at applying their knowledge -- there are extended learning activities. In one example, where all students read about a recent discovery in nerve cell growth, an extension invites kids to write about the impacts of this type of research. Further, eScience3000's partnership with National Geographic gives kids access to a wealth of wonderful, age-appropriate scientific texts.
Normally, the type of learning cycle used in eScience3000 can be very effective; students can really benefit from this type of scaffolded, differentiated learning experience. However, some of the lessons here simply aren't centered on clear learning objectives. Also, some of the blended-learning activities seem tangential to the readings' core ideas; the investigations may seem fun, but they might not help kids master crucial knowledge. For example, in the cell division lesson, kids are asked to wrap yarn around a popsicle stick. While some kids might understand that this models how DNA is condensed into chromosomes, the activity may not help them understand the purpose and process of cell division. In the Review and Apply tabs that follow, kids answer questions, but the activity's purpose may still remain a mystery.
Key Standards Supported
Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to an understanding of the topic.
Analyze the author’s purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text.
Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text.
Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.
By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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