STEM Challenge: Questions, Argumentation and Use of Evidence

Instructional Strategies: 
Conducting Research
Supporting Science

STEM for All: Personalize STEM Instruction with Accessible Technology

Knowing how to ask questions and use evidence in arguments is an important part of engaging students in science learning. When students defend or critique a position, they become actively involved in discovering scientific principles. Classrooms that facilitate this kind of discovery and scientific discourse have the added benefit of helping students develop their critical thinking and reasoning skills.

However, for struggling students, this discovery process can be overwhelming, intimidating and less engaging because it can be a challenge to extrapolate their own beliefs and opinions from the evidence and comment on them in a productive way. Luckily, there are several tools and approaches to be used to support struggling students develop evidence-based arguments.

Consider the use of:

  • Constructivist tools to help students build their own knowledge structures and engage in the process of being scientists
  • Scaffolding tools to show students how they can construct a scientific argument using evidence, and explain that this process is probably similar to the ways they argue for who is the better artist, sports hero or celebrity
  • Collaborative science education tools such as visualization tools, including concept mapping, to develop both interrelated questions and question-boards and structured science arguments that have the main features of a claim, evidence and reasoning

Get students engaged in the process of building evidence-based arguments with the following resources:

  1. Debate Graph - Students can participate in group debates or build collaborative brainstorms on any complex topic. Subject maps and spider graphs can be saved and presented to the class or scored by the teacher.
  2. Draft:Builder - A combination graphic organizing and outlining program for desktop computers, Draft:Builder has a unique note-taking feature that students can use to expand their ideas after initial brainstorming. The notes can then be dragged and dropped into a basic word processor, making the writing process more efficient.
  3. Filament Games - Filament Games developed a suite of learning games, aligned with the UDL principles referenced previously, that are designed to introduce middle school students to scientific concepts using multiple means of representation and provide real-time assistance based on what a student may be struggling with, such as in-game glossaries.
  4. Snap&Read Universal - Snap&Read Universal reads both accessible and inaccessible text aloud from websites, images, photographs, PDFs, web-based tests, and more. Snap&Read also adjusts complex text to be more readable, and allows you to capture information and cite your sources. You can even take a picture and have the text within that picture read aloud. This tool works across Google Drive, email, websites, Kindle Cloud Reader, and PDFs, works offline, supports Dynamic Text Leveling, includes study tools and annotations, translates text into 100+ languages, and includes a bibliography tool to help organize information.

By supporting your students in organizing the information they have and utilizing tools to help them effectively engage with and convey their ideas and arguments, your students of all learning abilities will be able to feel confident and competent in their science learning!

What's New on POWERUP?

AIR Informs Episode #6: Meeting the Needs of Students with Disabilities During COVID-19

Remote learning requires adjustment for all students, but students with disabilities face additional challenges during the COVID-19 quarantine. In the latest episode of AIR Informs, Allison Gandhi, managing researcher and director of AIR’s special education practice area, describes some of these obstacles and shares strategies to help students make the most of this time.