Supporting Science - Teach With Tech

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Students—especially those who struggle with mathematics—need varied and ongoing support to develop the ability to apply their mathematical abilities to science. Here are some ways to provide this support.

Steps:

  1. Provide Clear Explanations
  2. Give Students Strategies and Models
  3. Provide Ongoing Formative Assessment

Step 1: Provide Clear Explanations

  1. Help students understand that a good scientific question is one where you can investigate phenomena and predict outcomes (answers) based on patterns. Have students consider how mathematics could aid in their investigations.
  2. Emphasize big ideas—those that have explanatory power within and across scientific disciplines and can connect to real world problems. Mathematics can help make these connections by describing behavior, using language that can transfer across subjects. (See UDL Checkpoint 7.2: Optimize relevance, value, and authenticity.)
  3. Tap students’ prior knowledge to describe the problem at hand and foster interest. (See UDL Checkpoint 3.1: Activate or supply background knowledge.)
    Strategies for engaging students’ prior knowledge
    • Connect what students already know about the relevant mathematics to the science topic being addressed.
    • Explore multimedia resources—such as the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (http://nlvm.usu.edu) and the National Science Digital Library (http://nsdl.org)—to boost background knowledge.
    • Embed authentic activities that interest and engage students and are relevant to students’ lives.
View evidence behind this recommendation

IES Recommendations

Instruction during the intervention should be explicit and systematic. This includes providing models of proficient problem solving, verbalization of thought processes, guided practice, corrective feedback, and frequent cumulative review.

Evidence:
Strong

Source: IES Practice Guide: Assisting students struggling with mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for elementary and middle schools

Interventions should include instruction on solving word problems that is based on common underlying structures

Evidence:
Strong

Source: IES Practice Guide: Assisting students struggling with mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for elementary and middle schools

Teach number and operations using a developmental progression.

Evidence:
Moderate

Source: IES Practice Guide: Teaching Math to Young Children

Step 2: Give Students Strategies and Models

  1. Help students select and use appropriate representations to reveal patterns and make sense of phenomena. (See UDL Checkpoint 2.5: Illustrate through multiple media.)
    Tools to organize and represent data
    • Spreadsheets
    • Graphing tools (histograms, scatter plots, bar graphs)
    • Regression models
    • Statistical packages (GeoGebra, Google Sheets, etc.)
  2. Help students understand that error is a regular part of scientific experimentation. They need to be able to determine why an error might be occurring and how to account for it (e.g., incorrect measurement, limitations in measuring tools, imperfect models).
  3. Give students the opportunity to step back and reflect on how using tools to investigate, identify patterns, and develop theories contributes to the accumulation of scientific knowledge. (See UDL Checkpoint 3.4: Maximize transfer and generalization.)
View evidence behind this recommendation

IES Recommendations

Intervention materials should include opportunities for students to work with visual representations of mathematical ideas and interventionists should be proficient in the use of visual representations of mathematical ideas.

Evidence:
Moderate

Source: IES Practice Guide: Assisting students struggling with mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for elementary and middle schools

Help students recognize that fractions are numbers and that they expand the number system beyond whole numbers. Use number lines as a central representational tool in teaching this and other fraction concepts from the early grades onward.

Evidence:
Moderate

Source: IES Practice Guide: Developing Effective Fractions Instruction for Kindergarten Through 8th Grade

Instruction during the intervention should be explicit and systematic. This includes providing models of proficient problem solving, verbalization of thought processes, guided practice, corrective feedback, and frequent cumulative review.

Evidence:
Strong

Source: IES Practice Guide: Assisting students struggling with mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for elementary and middle schools

Help students understand why procedures for computations with fractions make sense.

Evidence:
Moderate

Source: IES Practice Guide: Developing Effective Fractions Instruction for Kindergarten Through 8th Grade

Step 3: Provide Ongoing Formative Assessment

  1. When providing students with positive and substantive feedback to correct misunderstandings, use language that emphasizes the underlying mathematics. (UDL Checkpoint 8.4: Increase mastery-oriented feedback.)
  2. Ask questions to guide students’ thinking about the use and significance of mathematics in a scientific context. Support their efforts to understand by explicitly asking about the connections between data and concepts.
    Questions to elicit student thinking
    • How does your data connect to the question being addressed?
    • What patterns do you see?
    • What mathematics can you use to describe the pattern?
    • What evidence do you have to support the claim you are making?
  3. Consider each student’s needs and learning styles when you decide which actions to take to move students closer to learning mathematics/science goals. Use technology tools, where appropriate, to assist in giving feedback and to encourage students to ask questions and share thinking. 
View evidence behind this recommendation

IES Recommendations

Instruction during the intervention should be explicit and systematic. This includes providing models of proficient problem solving, verbalization of thought processes, guided practice, corrective feedback, and frequent cumulative review

Evidence:
Strong

Source: IES Practice Guide: Assisting students struggling with mathematics: Response to Intervention (RtI) for elementary and middle schools

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