Probably you have all seen them in the sand, soil or snow; animal footprints! But what can they tell us?
Have a look at the drawing below. Based on what you know about animals, footprints, food chains, competition and ecological relationships; what do you observe?
Have a look at the drawing. Based on what you know about animals, footprints, food chains, competition and ecological relationships; what do you observe?
Can you suggest ‘a story’ behind these footprints? What happened here? How many animals were here? What were they doing? What kinds of animals were they? Were they all here at the same time?
Do some research on footprints. From which countries or parts of the world could this story come from? Can you make your own story and drawing, based on animals in your country? Let other students explain your story.
The aim of this task is to strengthen the students' observation, interpretation and reasoning skills. The students are asked to formulate conjectures about what the traces are all about. The task supports inquiry-based learning because it addresses aspects such as explaining, evaluating, and communicating findings. Students should be given ample time to consider the task and present arguments for their conjectures.
Depending on the age and maturity of the students, they are likely to suggest different explanations, as for example food search, starving, fighting or mating.
This task can be implemented in Biology and natural sciences classes from grade 3 on. It lays the foundation for understanding connections in the environment and knowledge about different animal species, tracks, food chains, and natural competition.
As teachers, we play a particularly important supporting role in this task because we need to encourage students to think independently, to formulate questions on their own, and to find their own answers to these questions. We should encourage students to think and argue out loud. We should also ask questions carefully and have examples ready in case they get stuck. We support the students in thinking at a higher level than before.
This task encourages both creativity and the ability to interpret what is observed. The goal is to connect to students' environmental knowledge and make sense of the food chain. The task has not only one correct solution, but quite different ones. The students' ideas and assumptions provide a good starting point for argumentation and discussion.
IBL is characterized as follows: Students…
Conclusion: IBL tasks are self differentiating tasks
Usually the students process an IBL task as follows (Research Cycle):
1. Formulate a specific question (Ask)
2. Use the existing knowledge to understand the problem and investigating possible solutions (Investigate)
3. Create new findings based on the previous findings (Create)
4. Discuss the findings (Discuss)
5. Evaluate the result and, if necessary, improve the solution (Reflect)
• Are accessible by all students
• Provide achievable challenges
• Develop fluency, understanding and processes
• Offer multiple entry points
• Involve using a range of methods and strategies
• Value the process rather than the answer
The role of a teacher in using IBL in STEM education
• Looks into and challenges student thinking and reasoning
• Instigates the evaluation and communication of strategies
• Uncovers misconceptions
• Supports student to learn from mistakes
• Provokes and stimulates the exploration of alternative routes