Science IDEAS Elements
Prior Knowledge/Cumulative Review
A major emphasis in Science IDEAS is on the cumulative, meaningful learning of
science knowledge. In such cumulative learning, accessing student prior knowledge
that is relevant to what is to be learned and cumulative reviewing of what has been
learned are variants of the same process.
In Science IDEAS, prior knowledge consists of a strategy of teacher-student interaction
designed to assess student prior knowledge in advance of instruction while cumulative
review is a strategy that schedules curricular reviews on a continuing basis over
the school year to insure that students remember what they have learned. Therefore,
the prior knowledge strategy is used to precede instruction, while the cumulative
review is used to enhance student retention.
In the Science IDEAS model, all instructional activities begin with a review.
When the activities are part of the same concept-focused, multi-day lesson, then
the review is a form of cumulative review (1) described below.
However, when introducing a new unit or concept within a unit on which there
has been no prior instruction, then the cumulative review strategies are not appropriate.
In Science IDEAS, the Prior-Knowledge Strategy is designed to elicit student
prior knowledge before instruction begins. Based on the degree of prior knowledge
exhibited by students, teachers are able to establish an appropriate starting point
for new instruction.
The specific procedure consists of the following steps:
Step 1. Teachers select a new concept/topic to
be taught, write it on the board, and ask the class what they know about it (have
students raise their hands).
Step 2. Teachers call on students who have hands
raised and listen to the student answer.
- If the answer is correct, then the teacher recognizes that for the student
and writes the student answer on the board next to the concept.
- If the answer is not correct, then the teacher tells the student what question
the answered offered would fit (i.e., the teacher establishes a positive value
for the student response, even if the answer is “wrong”). The result of this
procedure is that students are encouraged to respond to questions because they
are not afraid of being “wrong”.
Step 3. Once sufficient number of students have
been called on, teachers select a new topic for which student prior knowledge is
Note- The operational advantage of this procedure is that students are encouraged
to respond to teacher questions re: prior knowledge and, through informal instruction/explanation,
the process provides teachers with an opportunity to insure all students have the
prerequisite knowledge needed to understand new material to be taught.
Cumulative Review Strategy
There are two aspects of cumulative curricular review used in Science IDEAS:
Review during Science IDEAS instruction on a particular topic/unit and Cumulative
review on science topics/units previously completed. These are outlined below.
- Review during Science IDEAS instruction on a particular topic/unit.
This form of “intra-topic” review occurs as a natural part of Science IDEAS
multi-day instruction that uses different Science IDEAS elements (e.g., reading,
hands-on, propositional; concept mapping). The purpose of this type of review
is to focus student attention on the science concept(s) that provide the linkage
between the different activities/elements used in instruction. These forms of
relationships provide a strong foundation for meaningful student understanding.
In fact, the conceptual linkages emphasized in instruction should be the
concept(s) that teachers used as a basis for selecting the different activities
to be used in Science IDEAS multi-day lessons (i.e., for the activities used
to teach the concept(s), the concept(s) themselves provide the linkage for relating
the activities to each other.
The explicit procedure followed by Science IDEAS teachers is to first model
and then, eventually, query students re: How different activities used in instruction
are related as each is completed in a cumulative sequence. An example of a specific
question format is:
- Set the context. “We have now completed
activities 1, 2, and 3.”
- Frame the review question: “For each activity- Who can remember
what we did and what we learned”
- Ask how the activities were related to each
other: “Who can explain how these activities are related to each
other in terms of what we have learned from them”
Note- this review procedure can be used as a transition between any Science
IDEAS activities (e.g., “Before we start our next activity, let’s quickly
review what we have done up to now”)
- Cumulative review on science topics/units previously completed.
This form of review is extremely important to schedule on a regular basis
because it insures that students will remember what they have learned on topics/units
previously taught and for which instruction has been completed.
Because instruction has been completed, teachers must formally schedule this
form of review. A reasonable schedule would be for this form of review occur
every two weeks (e.g., every other Friday). The amount of time scheduled should
be sufficient for the review to occur without being rushed. As the number of
completed units to be reviewed increases over the school year, then an increasing
amount of time should be allocated.
The general procedure for planning and conducting a cumulative review is
similar to that described above for intra-topic reviews, but there are some