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What are focusing activities and how can they be used in science education?

A focusing activity is a way to immediately draw students attention when beginning class or transitioning to a new subject. Beginning instruction with this type of activity allows you to minimize distractions, maintain learning momentum, and maximize teaching / learning time. Ideas of focusing activiites include starting with collaborative discussions, generating discussion, or starting the instruction with a brief assessment. What types of focusing activities do you use in science education? 

Let's share some ideas and strategies! I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

Kathy Tracey



BrookeIstas's picture
One hundred

I have played a slide show in the class that shows questions and answers about different Scientific Facts:  One slide could show H2O and ask what is the common name of this element?  The next slide says, water...and so on, and so forth.

Babcockm's picture

I like to use videos, visuals, and reads to spark interest. I do a unit on plastic in the environment. I usually begin with a KWRL chart as we do a written response comparing the good and the bad. Students write two things they know about plastic in the "K" section of the KWRL chart. I explain the text-to-self, text-to-text and text-to-world connections (very quickly) and then show them The Majestic Plastic Bag - A Mockumentary. Students write two things they learned from watching the video and then I play Plastic State of Mind and ask students to write two more things they've learned. My students really seem to like these videos are ready to read and learn about the topic from other sources. 

Visuals include such things as the following: Bird, Washed Ashore Artwork (Bandon, OR), and Ocean

I like this article because it catches students' interest. Also, I use it to begin the process of identifying evidenced-based arguments versus opinion-based arguments (students usually have strong opinions about test tube meat): Pita's Latest Tactic: $1 Million for Fake MeatThe PETA article's readability is quite high but ABE students have been successful with scaffolding, strategy use, and effective groupings. 



Kathy_Tracey's picture
One hundred

Focusing activities are so beneficial to learning and classroom management! They get students in the right frame of mind for the class and provides the expectation that learning begins when students walk in the door or when the next subject area is starting. Here are a few more resources you may like as far as reading / focus activities. One Ocean Science Lesson and a lesson on Climate Change Note I am linking to the previous disucssions so if you find these resources helpful for your class, please consider sharing how you have used them. :-) 

I do love graphic organizers, word games, and even quick writes. In the quick writes, students predict what they will learn in a lesson. For example, if I were to use the PETA article, I might have students do a very quick write about what they think they know about test tube meat and then at the end of the lesson, compare their original assumptions to what they learned.