The 5E model will be applied through this unit. This model is based on a social constructivist theory of learning and promotes collaboration between students (Bybee, 2014; Skamp, 2011; Hackling, Peers & Prain, 2007).
This has been said to promote student engagement, attitude, participation & improvement in learning in science due to their more active role in the inquiry based exploratory learning (Aubusson & Watson, 2002; Pattro, 2008; Hackling et al., 2007). The 5Es begins by building from student’s current knowledge and conceptions of a topic and develops their knowledge and understandings, giving children multiple ways to demonstrate their learning (Pattro, 2008; Skamp, 2011; Hackling et al., 2007; Bybee, 2014; Yager & Akcay, 2010). This is achieved through children’s exploration of concepts in investigations, rich discussions and questioning between peers and teachers and reflection on the learning that has taken place (Yoon & Onchwari, 2006; Hackling et al., 2007; Bybee, 2014; Skamp, 2011). This questioning and discussion is critical to the inquiry approach that the 5E model incorporates, as it promotes students’ analytic and reflective thinking as well as encouraging their curiosity to seek answers and solutions to problems (Yager & Akcay, 2010). The 5Es are a progressive model with each phase relating to the previous one, gradually developing students’ knowledge and allowing the teacher to embed constant formative and diagnostic assessment opportunities throughout to monitor pupil learning and modify instruction when necessary (Pattro, 2008; Bybee, 2014; Hackling et al.
, 2007). When using an inquiry approach such as the 5E model, it is crucial that teacher’s guide, but not direct students in their exploration and knowledge development of science concepts (Roseno, Geist, Carraway-Stage & Duffrin, 2015; Yager & Akcay, 2010). This ensures that their learning process is authentic and that they are able to make real world connections and understand that science is a part of their everyday lives (Yager & Akcay, 2010).A key aspect of social constructivism is collaboration with peers and more knowledgeable others, in order to best facilitate children’s development in science, collaborative learning practices will be employed. It is said that when students work together combining their knowledge and skills in small groups they are able maximise their own and others learning (Johnson & Johnson, 1996; Hardy, Lawrence & Grant, 2005; Schamber & Mahoney, 2006; Waite & Davis, 2006).
However, in order for this collaboration between peers to be successful it is important that the teacher carefully considers the dynamics of the groups in order to achieve the desired learning outcomes (Wang & Burton, 2010). In addition, children’s literature will be used in the unit as a springboard for children to engage in the scientific concepts being taught (McLean, Jones & Schaper, 2015; Sackes, Trundel & Flavares, 2009). Children’s literature, especially narratives have been said to engage children in a language style that they are familiar with and promotes ‘I wonder…’ thinking that is at the heart of inquiry based learning (Sackes et al., 2009; Winch, Johnston, March Ljungdahl & Holliday, 2010).
In the early years play is a vehicle which is regularly used to promote learning, exploration and investigation (Campbell & Jobling, 2010). In this unit purposeful play will be incorporated to promote the collaborative, inquiry based learning using scaffolding and questioning from the teacher to ensure science learning goals are met (McLean et al., 2015). This actively engages children in a relaxed but focussed learning environment, allowing them to seek answers to problems through investigation and exploration (Blake, 2009; Bosse, Jacobs & Anderson, 2009; Furtado, 2010; Cook, Goodman & Schulz, 2011). It is said that through such an approach in the early years, a long-term interest and engagement in science can be fostered (Blake, 2009; Bosse et al., 2009; Gerde, Schacter & Wasik, 2013). Differentiation is a key consideration that a teacher must make when planning a unit of work that is suitable and engaging for each individual child (Tomlinson, 2003). In this unit differentiation considerations will be made for children that have a visual impairment (VI), children that have English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) and children that are high achievers.
Visually impaired children have more academic success when they are included in mainstream classrooms (Watson & Johnston, 2004). It is discussed that often children with a visual impairment are as cognitively capable as their sighted peers however require accommodations to be made to provide them with the same opportunity and provision that their peers have (Watson & Johnston, 2004; Sahin & Yorek, 2009). However, science has traditionally been taught in predominantly visually orientated methods (Kumar, Ramasamy & Stefanic, 2001; Sahin & Yorek, 2009). Therefore, it is crucial that in order for children with a visual impairment to meet the same curriculum goals as their sighted peers teaching methods incorporate senses other than vision (Watson & Johnston, 2004). Trowbridge, Bybee and Powell (2004) discuss that children with a visual impairment predominantly use their hearing to learn, therefore the teacher should ensure the child is sat closer to the sound source. It is important that when teachers are demonstrating a concept they should give detailed descriptions, relating the objects appearance to other objects the child may have prior experiences with and allow them to feel the object, in order for the child to develop a mental picture (Ratliff, 1997).
Finally it is discussed that children with a visual impairment learn best when they are actively engaged in hands on learning experiences (Watson & Johnston, 2004; Sahin & Yorek, 2009). Children with English as an additional language or dialect are a diverse group that may have varying levels of literacy in English (Gibbons, 2002; Angelo, 2013; ACARA, 2013). EAL/D students are a prominent group in most Australian schools, as a fifth of Australians are said to speak a language other than English at home (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017). This emphasizes the need to make considerations for these students and the issues they may face when planning a unit of work. It is said that EAL/D students often have better developed listening skills than speaking and are better readers than writers, this is significant when considering teaching and assessment methods (Allen & Rubin, 2012, as cited in Milton, 2017).
In addition, it is said that in science EAL/D students may struggle in particular with subject specific language due to the uncommonness of the words or that the words mean something else in everyday language, which in turn may affect children’s ability to understand scientific concepts (Angelo, 2013; Milton, 2017; ACARA, 2013).It is important to ensure that children that are high achievers are differentiated for to ensure that they are constantly being challenged and are in their zone of proximal development (Dickins, 2014). It is said that early academic skills are a precursor for future academic achievements (Potter & Redford, 2015). However, if these children are not adequately differentiated for and challenged they can become disengaged from the learning (Tomlinson, 2003).