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Outdoor Inquiries

Taking Science Investigations Outside the Classroom

By Patricia McGlashan, Kristen Gasser, Peter Dow, David Hartney, Bill Rogers
Foreword by Hubert Dyasi

Conducting investigations beyond the four walls of the classroom is an ideal way for students to develop scientific thinking while practicing the skills of data collection and analysis. This practical handbook will be your guide to stepping outside of traditional science instruction.

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Outdoor Inquiries offers approaches to help students become skilled at asking their own questions, gathering their own data and analyzing it for themselves—to become real inquirers. We recommend it to all of our teachers.
 
—Lynn Rankin
Director, Institute for Inquiry, Exploratorium
 
The book is a great treasure for all science educators.
—Hubert Dyasi
City College of New York
 
Here’ssome advice for teachers looking for science instruction to supplement their science textbooks and kits: Take it outside! Conducting science investigations beyond the four walls of the classroom is one of the best ways for young people to develop scientific thinking and to practice gathering and analyzing their own data. Outdoor Inquiries is the clear, concise handbook that shows you how.
 
Outdoor Inquiries takes you step by step through guiding intermediate and middle level students to new and deeper understandings of scientific content, thinking, and procedures. From smart, pragmatic advice—including how to select an appropriate site for investigation, what to bring with you, and how to ensure student safety—to powerful, detailed lesson plans, suggestions for cross-curricular integration, and useful ideas for assessment, Outdoor Inquiries offers everything you need to get started. It outlines five interrelated strategies to use with students as they investigate their local environment:
  • journal keeping
  • mapping
  • collection making
  • field-guide development
  • behavior study.
In addition, detailed classroom vignettes from a variety of settings demonstrate how each inquiry strategy helps your students meet several recommendations of the National Science Education Standards by engaging them in:
  • close observation
  • long-term data gathering
  • the generation of thoughtful questions
  • data analysis.
 
Step outside the usual kit-based science instruction. Nurture the inquiries of your science learners by helping them apply critical thinking skills to the real world as they make meaningful connections to their natural, dynamic local environment. Use Outdoor Inquiries and discover that when it comes to teaching science, the natural world can be your most effective instructional tool.

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