How I Use It
Its 5E model of learning is great when using it in the classroom with the whole class. All units start with an 'Engage' section, where a short video presents an initial situation within a real-world context, so that students can connect what they are about to learn with their everyday experience. The video ends with a situation that poses a cognitive conflict that students need to solve. But they need to know more to be able to solve it. So, you find some activities to mobilize students' prior knowledge.
Next, the Explore stage consists of a guided activity that challenges the students' initial knowledge and helps them construct the most important concept of the lesson through inquiry, reasoning and group discussion. As a teacher you have to lead students through the different processes and conclusions. At this level, Science Bits draws heavily on the use of virtual experiments, simulators, Predict-Observe-Explain videoactivities (with real experiments), etc. This is great because you can teach science by doing science in their everyday teaching context, that is, in the classroom itself, and not only in the lab.
The Explain stage would be just as the regular textbook, but really rich in multimedia resources. Here, as a teacher you can explain the content of the unit formally. There are also many interactive exercises that you can use as homework to let students consolidate what has been explained through practice.
Finally, in the Elaborate Stage students will have the opportunity to apply the concepts, attitudes, and procedures learned throughout the unit to solve an everyday problem. It is a small PBL activity in which students will have to create something drawing on their new knowledge, obtaining new information, and using digital tools as means of research, analysis, and creativity.
The last stage (Evaluate) serves to assess the acquired knowledge by means of a self-correcting test that is not based on the evaluation of the students’ ability to learn concepts by heart, but on the practical application of the learned knowledge. Students can bring their notebooks and browse the web while doing the test (the main goal is to understand content rather memorize it). Indeed, some of the questions in the test require the use of the Internet, like finding information. So, to solve whatever problem posed, the Internet has to be used together with the students' knowledge.
This tool has helped me apply a constructivist methodology in my classes and specially to teach science by doing science. My students love learning with this inquiry based system and I'm really satisfied with the experience. I truly recommend using Science Bits in your classroom, as a complement or a substitute for your traditional textbooks. But Science Bits can not work by itself as a self paced system. Students need the guide of a teacher to take the most of it.