Learning Intentions in Intermediate Science


Hope things are going well…I’m sure you’re super busy now we’ve already reached mid-term.  For my inquiry in my class I’m working on sharing my learning intentions with my students in writing.  I’d also like to work on it in the area of science.  We are trying to answer the question, “Are we (students and teachers in div 6) healthy people? We are looking at the healthy living curriculum AND human body systems together to gather evidence about our own habits and also to learn how, for example, a healthy diet helps our digestive system, and how, physical activity keeps our systems healthy.  Do you have any ideas about sharing the learning intentions in a fun and creative way?  It just seems a bit boring to me to just tell them what we’re learning, have you come across any strategies that work??  My group is grade 5s so maybe a bit younger than what you are used to….


My Response:

You betcha!! Thinking along the lines of:

    • “What does it mean to be healthy?”
    • “How do we stay alive?”
    • “What do we need to stay alive?”
    • “How do know something is alive?”

Your grade 5 unit is reappears in science 8 with students going deeper in their learning.
Here’s the unit plans I used in 2010-2011 before moving into the district teacher position:

Here’s a glimpse a few years into the past:

I can think of several ways I would adapt/modify/delete for my future grade 8s (including more of an inquiry focus, some big/essential questions to guide it) and for your grade 5s (especially in reducing the depth of Knows & Dos).  Here are Word versions of the  body Systems Unit Plan and the Cells Unit Planning KUD.

BTW: You might want to consider bringing in pill bugs (aka sow bugs) for kids to use for inquiry into characteristics of living things.  This allows students to observe & wonder with minimal teacher direction–> what happens when, what you wonder, how do they respond to stimuli, how & why do they move, etc.  Llewelyn describes it in detail in his book Inquire Within (see reference below).

I can see how the smaller questions you are thinking of can support your big question of “Are we healthy people?” which by the way, needs you to first answer the question “What does it mean to be healthy?” which leads to “What does it take to be healthy?”

  • what our body needs to be healthy? (food, rest, shelter, physical activity, mental activity, etc.)
  • how each it is beneficial?
  • stressors on our bodies (missing what it needs or exposure to “things” that are harmful/draining).

I am just brainstorming away here so don’t take this definitive — just a bunch of ideas/hunches of where I would start

You might want to check out these inquiry cards and the rest of this site.  Also, here are two resources from Smarter Science that you are free to use under Creative Commons licence –> Process Skill rubric.pdf and 2-1_CDN_EN_Initiate_and_Plan_L2.pdf.

BTW: You need to get a copy of Inquire Within by Douglas Llewellyn which is a fantastic book for teaching gr.3-8 science through inquiry (currently book clubbing it with 12 VSB teachers). It’s worth the $50.  And then get a copy of Make Just One Change: Teaching Students to Ask Their Own Questions by Dan Rothstein & Luz Santana.


About J Martens

Educator living in Vancouver and working in SD37 Delta. Supporting Numeracy while learning how formative assessment, literacy, inquiry, and technology serve to improve learning and increase engagement (for teachers & students).
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1 Response to Learning Intentions in Intermediate Science

  1. Mary Messer says:

    That query sounds quite familiar, my friend. Thanks for your thoughtful response and how are things going?

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