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LINCS Online Course: Scientific Practices in Context: Curricular Planning and Lesson Development

The LINCS online course: Scientific Practices in Context: Curricular Planning and Lesson Development is now available in the LINCS Learning Portal!


LINCS is adding the opportunity for professional development for its members in the form of a series of optional online courses developed by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education’s Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) Resource Collection initiative. These online courses are self-paced, freely available, and accessible 24 hours a day through the LINCS Learning Portal. The courses will enable users to work at their own pace, at a time that is most convenient to them.


Online Course: Scientific Practices in Context: Curricular Planning and Lesson Development

Building on the first LINCS online science course, Engaging Adult Learners in Science, which provided a rationale for teaching science in the adult basic education/adult secondary education (ABE/ASE) classroom, this course provides guidance on where to find credible science resources, and an introduction to teaching science in context. In addition, this course reviews the teaching and learning cycle, focusing on curriculum design including lesson planning and development within the context of an adult education science unit. The course is self-paced and features three modules: (1) Using Science for Contextualized Instruction; (2) Applying the Teaching and Learning Cycle Model; and (3) Planning a Science Unit. The modules link to this discussion thread (Title: LINCS Online Course: Scientific Practices in Context: Curricular Planning and Lesson Development) within the LINCS Community Science group to provide opportunities for you to discuss how to apply the course information in your teaching with your colleagues from around the country.

Use this discussion thread to post your responses to the questions below from the LINCS online course, Scientific Practices in Context: Curricular Planning and Lesson Develop. Please share your comments to any of the following questions, or post a general comment or feedback on the course.

  • Introduce yourself.
  • You’ve seen some examples of science as a context for instruction. How have you used science in your classroom as a context for instruction? What was the result?
  • Having explored the printable list of web-based resources for kitchen science activities, which pages, activities, or demonstrations were the most useful to you in your classroom? What other web-based resources have you found for kitchen science activities?
  • As you examine the Environmental Issues Unit, post your responses to the following questions: (1) How does the unit flow? Is there a progression of content? Skills? Would you order the lessons differently? (2) How does the teacher sequence the introduction of each of the scientific practices over the course of the unit? Does the sequence have a logic that you can follow? (3) Which of the scientific practices are revisited? Why would these seem to be high-yield practices that warrant more attention? (4) Do you believe that the unit as a whole will meet the goals of the teacher? Why or why not? (5) What additional topics would you include in a unit on environmental issues for adult learners?
  • Share your unit’s big vision and high-level learning objectives with the group.
  • Share your lesson plan with the group.
  • Return to this discussion in a couple of months and reflect on the effectiveness of your science lesson plan: What worked well? What could be improved?


This online course was developed under the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education’s Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) Resource Collection initiative under Contract No. ED-VAE-11-C-0048.


The new LINCS Learning Portal offers adult educators free online professional development courses from a variety of OVAE initiatives. Join today at:


Holly Derhammer's picture

Hello.  I feel that I have a very good science background in biology and chemistry.  However, I have had to reteach myself earth science.  Fortunately, my employer has some decent resources for the science portion of the test although I do supplement iit with outside resoues.  

What I thought interesting was how careful I need to be with online resources.  I stay away from wikipedia.  However, I realize I have to be careful of what I bring into the classroom.  Good reminder for me to really check my resources.

Susan K. Cowles's picture
One hundred

Holly, you bring up great points about relying on online resources.  It is great to build into your instruction the opportunity for students to learn to evaluate resources, as this is a useful life skill outside the formal classroom.  For example, what does a domain name tell us?  What do we know about the sponsoring organization?  Does a mission statement appear anywhere on the site?  How often is the site updated?  Are there advertisements, and if so,  what might we learn about the information on the website. 

It would be helpful to hear from others of you who include exercises in evaluation of web-based resources in your instruction.  What works for you?


Retiree's picture

I am a retired elementary school teacher who is exploring the idea of adult ed.  I have never taught adults other than on a very informal basis such as tutoring.  I took this course to fulfill professional development hours and to explore and learn more about teaching adults.  Because I am retired, I have not been in a position to use the lesson plans.  I am renewing a soon to expire TX state elementary teaching certificate.

The links to lesson ideas were very good.  I liked those "Snacks" quite well.  I think that it is important to relate new information to prior knowledge and to arouse curiosity within the learner.

Susan K. Cowles's picture
One hundred

Dear Retiree,

Thanks for writing to introduce yourself!  It is good to hear that you are exploring opportunities in adult education.  (I have found that being an instructor in adult basic/secondary education to be the highlight of my teaching career)  Please keep us posted on your explorations.  As an experienced school teacher, you already have many of the skills important to adult education.


teacherheidi's picture

I am working through this online course and looking for ways to better incorporate science in my instruction.  Most of my students believe they have very little background in science study.  I believe we are all investigators in our daily lives.  We ask questions and seek valid results.  The challenge for my students is to refine their scientific practices.

John Traver's picture

I am a retired High School Teacher just starting with adult education.  My students have a large and varied background in Science.  I'm looking for ways to incorporate other disciplines like reading, math., and social studies into the lesson.

Tbtb's picture

I am an adult education instructor and know that many of my students are concerned that they will have difficulty with science because they didn't understand it during their K-12 experience. One way to make them feel more comfortable is to show how science is a part of their everyday lives. If they are considering purchasing a different vehicle, we can discuss how the fuel that powers their car is made. This can then be connected to math topics and a discussion of gas mileage.

Nancy Early's picture

Hi!  I am currently teaching in the GED Program for students who wish to obtain their high school equivalency.  Because I have a teaching certificate and am also an LVN, I am assigned to teach the Science portion of the curriculum.  The idea of context in science is not new, it has merely changed names, as does so much in education.  The focus for the adult learner seems to have shifted from obtaining an education that will allow him/her to continue learning to an emphasis on immediately finding employment.  This concept is fine if the person desires only to work and not continue their education into the vocational/technical/college realm.  

andrea black's picture

Hi everybody. I'm currently in my 3rd of Adult Education teaching GED prep courses at a maximum security prison. We do not give the actual GED test, but work with men who are wanting to reach that goal in the future. Science is not something we spend a lot of time on as my students are usually really low in levels and focus on basic math and reading. 

Kathy_Tracey's picture
One hundred

Hi Andrea, 

I understand the desire for learners to focus on the skills they believe they need to have. However, the skills that lead to effective reading (predicting, understanding cause and effect, understanding sequence, building vocabulary and background knowledge, and reading informational text) are also the skills needed for science. Perhaps reading Science articles at an appropriate literacy level would blend Science and Reading. 

Perhaps some resources that will connect the pieces can be found at


janet wright's picture

I have never taught science in the past, yet I appreciate receiving resources, i.e., websites, activity examples, vocabulary, explanations of  how to develop contextualized instruction for science lessons and I look forward to the challenge of developing science lessons, now.

janet wright's picture

This is some excellent information.  I would like to review this information again and prepare some lessons..