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Implementing the Module (continued)

Figure 13(cont.) Correlation to the National Science Education Standards
The Teaching Standards
Standard A: Teachers of science plan an inquiry-based science program for their students. In doing this, teachers Correlation to Cell Biology and Cancer
. develop a framework of yearlong and short-term goals for students. Each activity provides short-term objectives for students. Figures 11 (Conceptual Flow of the Activities) and 17 (Timeline for Teaching the Module) also help teachers plan.
. select science content and adapt and design curriculum to meet the interests, knowledge, understanding, abilities, and experiences of students. Using the module helps teachers update their curriculum in response to their students' interest in this topic.
. select teaching and assessment strategies that support the development of student understanding and nurture a community of science learners. The focus on active, collaborative, and inquiry-based learning in the activities helps teachers meet this standard.
Standard B: Teachers of science guide and facilitate learning. In doing this, teachers Correlation to Cell Biology and Cancer
. focus and support inquiries while interacting with students. All of the activities in the module encourage and support student inquiry.
. orchestrate discourse among students about scientific ideas. All of the activities in the module promote discourse among students.
. challenge students to accept and share responsibility for their own learning. All of the activities in the module challenge students to accept and share responsibility for their learning.

. recognize and respond to student diversity and encourage all students to participate fully in science learning. Combining the 5E instructional model with active, collaborative learning is an effective way of responding to the diversity of student backgrounds and learning styles.
. encourage and model the skills of scientific inquiry, as well as the curiosity, openness to new ideas and data, and skepticism that characterize science. Annotations for the teacher that occur throughout the activities provide many suggestions for how teachers can model these attributes.
Standard C: Teachers of science engage in ongoing assessment of their teaching and of student learning. In doing this, teachers Correlation to Cell Biology and Cancer
. use multiple methods and systematically gather data about student understanding and ability. Each activity has a variety of assessment components embedded within its structure. Annotations draw teachers' attention to these opportunities for assessment.
. analyze assessment data to guide teaching. Annotations provide answers to questions that can help teachers analyze student feedback. The annotations also suggest ways for teachers to change their approach to students, based on that feedback.
Standard E: Teachers of science develop communities of science learners that reflect the intellectual rigor of scientific inquiry and the attitudes and social values conducive to science learning. In doing this, teachers Correlation to Cell Biology and Cancer
. display and demand respect for the diverse ideas, skills, and experiences of all students. The answers provided for teachers model these qualities.
. nurture collaboration among students. All of the activities are designed to be completed by students working in collaborative teams.
. structure and facilitate ongoing formal and informal discussion based on a shared understanding of rules of scientific discourse. All of the discussions in the activities model the rules of scientific discourse.
. model and emphasize the skills, attitudes, and values of scientific inquiry. The annotations for teachers provide many suggestions about how to model these skills, attitudes, and values.

Most teachers endorse the use of active learning. We know intuitively, if not experientially and explicitly, that learning does not occur through a process of passive absorption. But often we do not realize how active students must be for real learning to occur. Typically, the answer to this question is more active than we might expect.

The activities in this module were designed with the following assumptions about active learning (BSCS, 1999):

  1. An activity promotes active learning to the degree to which all students, not simply a vocal few, are involved in mental processing related to the content.
  2. An activity promotes active learning to the degree that it offers extended opportunities for students to become personally engaged with the content.
  3. An activity promotes active learning to the degree that it involves students in thinking deeply about content.

The activities also make extensive use of collaborative learning. Most often occurring within the context of group work, collaborative and cooperative learning currently enjoy "favorite child" status among the many strategies available to teachers. Teachers are using group approaches across disciplines, for in-and out-of-class assignments, with large and small classes, and with beginning and advanced students. In fact, you will often find that collaborative activities go hand-in-hand with active learning.

Collaborative and cooperative learning, both with long theoretical and empirical histories, come out of different academic traditions, operate on different premises, and employ different strategies. But both approaches share a fundamental commitment to the notion that students learn from and with each other, "learning through joint intellectual effort," according to one expert (Brody, 1995, p. 134). In the interest of brevity, we will leave alone the finer distinctions between the two, offering in this curriculum a mix of strategies that put students together and engage them in tasks that encourage learning in collective contexts.

Finally, the activities in the module use inquiry-based strategies. All truly inquiry-based activities share the characteristics of active learning. In addition, inquiry-based strategies emphasize discovery: the process of observation, followed by analysis, that leads to explanation, to conclusion, or to the next question. Note that an activity need not involve students in active experimentation to be fundamentally an inquiry experience.

More than active or collaborative learning, inquiry-based strategies attempt to teach students how biologists see the world, how they think about what they see, and how they draw conclusions that are consistent with observations and current knowledge. Such strategies say to the student, in effect, "This is science as a way of knowing."

The 5E Instructional Model

The activities in the module also have been designed using an instructional model to organize and sequence the experiences offered to students. This model, called the "5E model," is based on constructivism, a term that expresses a view of the student as an active agent who "constructs" meaning out of his or her interactions with events (Perkins, 1992). According to this view, rather than passively absorbing information, the student redefines, reorganizes, elaborates, and changes his or her initial understandings through interactions with phenomena, the environment, and other individuals. In short, the student interprets objects and phenomena and then internalizes this interpretation in terms of previous experiences.

A constructivist view of learning recognizes that the development of ideas and the acquisition of lasting understandings take time and experiences (Saunders, 1992). In the typical classroom, this means that fewer concepts and subjects can be covered during the school year or, in this case, in five days of instruction. Nevertheless, research suggests that students who are given time and opportunity to thoroughly grasp a small number of important concepts do better on traditional tests than students who are exposed briefly to a large number of ideas (Sizer, 1992; Knapp, 1995). In fact, the intensive thinking involved in constructing a thorough understanding of a few major ideas appears to benefit all students, regardless of ability.

Figure 14 illustrates the key components of the 5E model, so-called because it takes students through five phases of learning that are easily described using five words that begin with the letter "E": Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.

This instructional model allows students to share common experiences related to cancer, to use and build on prior knowledge, to construct meaning, and to assess continually their understanding of a major concept. It avoids excessive use of lecture because research shows that 10 minutes of lecture is near the upper limit of comfortable attention that students give to lecture material, whereas the attention span in an investigative activity is far longer (Project Kaleidoscope, 1991). In the 5E model, the teacher acts as facilitator and coach much more frequently than he or she acts as the disseminator of information.

The following paragraphs illustrate how the 5Es are implemented across the activities in this module. They also provide suggestions about effective teaching behaviors that help students experience each phase of the learning cycle.

Activity 1, The Faces of Cancer, serves as the Engage phase of instruction for the students. This phase of the model initiates the learning sequence and introduces the major topic to be studied. Its primary purpose is to capture the students' attention and interest. The activity is designed to make connections between past and present learning experiences and to anticipate upcoming activities. By completing it, students should become mentally engaged in the topic of cancer and should begin to think about how it relates to their previous experiences. Successful engagement results in students who are intrigued by the concepts they are about to study in depth.

The second and third activities in the module, Cancer and the Cell Cycle and Cancer as a Multistep Process, serve in a broad sense as the Explore and Explain phases of the model. Activity 2 begins with an exercise designed to provide students with a common experience to build on as they actively explore the cell cycle and growth control in normal and abnormal cells. Subsequent events in Activities 2 and 3 move students into the Explain phase of the model. During this phase, students develop an explanation for the biological basis for cancer. Explain activities give students opportunities to articulate their developing conceptual understanding or to demonstrate particular skills or behaviors. This is where the teacher introduces terms such as "oncogenes" and "tumor-suppressor genes." Keep in mind, however, that these activities are still student-centered. That is, the students are developing their own explanations for the development of cancer. Here, the teacher's role is to guide students so that they have ample opportunity to develop a more complete understanding of the biological basis of cancer. Students ultimately should be able to explain their understanding of cancer by bringing together their experiences, prior knowledge, and vocabulary.

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