I’ve been reading NSTA’s K-12 journals for many years. This is the first time I can remember that all three have the same theme at the same time. The summer issue for each—Science & Children, Science Scope, and The Science Teacher have featured articles on scientific argumentation. Teachers at all grade levels can find articles with suggestions for incorporating scientific discourse and argumentation into lessons.
Unfortunately, many students (and adults) have misconceptions about the word argument. They see TV shows where arguing is the most common activity. People shout at and interrupt each other, spout ideas that may have little or no truth to them, ignore facts and evidence, and have little tolerance for different points of view or experiences.
But argumentation in science has a different meaning. “Engaging in argument from evidence” is one of the Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS. As students engage in investigations, they develop claims and support them with evidence. They critique ideas, propose alternate explanations, and communicate their understandings.
The skills involved in argumentation have to be taught and modeled. I’m looking forward to reading articles in these issues with suggestions and real-life examples of what this kind of activity looks like and sounds like in K-12 classrooms.
As part of an NSTA membership, we have access to all three of these journals. With a common theme, teachers can see what the process looks like from kindergarten through grade 12. I’d encourage teachers to skim the contents of all three. Secondary teachers can see what younger students are capable of doing and find ideas that can be kicked up a notch or two for their own students, Elementary teachers can see how what they’re doing can fit with what older students do and identify activities to challenge their students.
As I head to the beach for the holiday week, I’ve packed my iPad with all three journals.
See also: Who Doesn’t Like a Good Argument?