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Scientific Living-Teacher's Guide

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Scientific Living

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Ryan Burchett, host


Teacher's Guide

1. Overview
2. Format of the short (less than 2 minutes each) movies
3. Format of the Discussion Guide
4. Exploring the unique benefits of integrating very short movies into your regular lesson plan, either as a lesson-opening activity or to jump-start a discussion.

1. Overview

Scientific Living is a classroom science resource centered around short (less than two minutes each) digital movies. They provide a lesson-opening activity or “hook” for student interest and discussion that can be integrated with your regular lesson plan.

The segments are edited by leading scientists and aligned with National Science Education Standards. The subject of the first series of 20 episodes is space exploration/astronomy because science educators have chosen astronomy as their top priority for greater emphasis in K-12 science classrooms. The program will continue with another series on weather/meteorology, followed by earth science/geology, and a host of other science topics. The goal is to create an encyclopedic database of short science movies for “on demand” access through the schools’ own computer network.

2. Format of the videos

The movies can be downloaded to your classroom computer and viewed on your computer monitor or a projection screen. They are digital files in the MPEG-1 digital format and provide high quality. You will need the QuickTime 6 (or equivalent) media player to view them. The QuickTime 6 media player is available as a free download.
(Click here.)

(Also, see the “script sheets” for a quick way to review the script of a given movie, and determine whether it can be integrated with your lesson plan.)

3. Format of the Discussion Guide
(Consisting of one discussion sheet and one script sheet for each episode.)

Discussion sheets: Each classroom discussion sheet can be downloaded as a PDF file, and each is numbered to match its corresponding episode. (Print them to make a hard copy.) Like the movies, each discussion sheet is short – one page for each episode – in order to encourage flexibility. Scientific Living is not designed to dominate the lesson period, but rather to start a discussion as a lesson-opening activity which teachers can integrate with their regular lesson plan. The discussion can be based on grade level, and taken anywhere you like, adapted to your needs.

Script sheets: Each “script” sheet is also a single page and numbered to match its corresponding episode. It includes a complete script for each episode, which provides a quick and easy way for teachers to review the episodes without having to download and review the video. The scripts are only a few paragraphs long, allowing teachers to quickly decide whether an episode fits their lesson plan, or can be woven into the subject of their lesson plan, based on grade level.

Each script sheet also includes:

  • A listing of the Relevant NSES Standards (National Science Education Standards) that apply to each episode. The linkage to NSES Standards is also broken down by grade levels. In addition, the following NSES Standards apply to all episodes:
    • NSES Content Standard G: Science as a human endeavor.
      Choosing science as a career. Local TV meteorologists are career scientists who share their enthusiasm for science topics through this outreach project.
    • NSES Teaching Standard D: Identify and use resources outside the school
      (Using a local media figure as a science education partner.)
    • NSES Teaching Standard B: Orchestrate discourse among students about scientific ideas.
      (Program assists in promoting student discussion.)
    • NSES Unifying concepts and processes in science:
      (Grades K-12) Using unifying concepts and processes to align the focus of discussion with other content standards at different grade levels.

  • Also on the script page, Web links are provided for further information about each episode under Related links.
  • At the bottom of the script page, in Credits, nationally recognized scientists are identified who provided editorial oversight and consulted on the content of each episode.

4. Exploring the unique benefits of integrating very short videos into your regular lesson plan, either as a lesson-opening activity or to jump-start a discussion.

The short length of the videos is their innovative feature. Each segment is a complete story. And yet, each segment is less than two minutes long. The idea is to use short science stories as multimedia elements that capture interest, while leaving the teacher’s regular lesson plan intact. It’s a new option in the classroom for teachers who don’t have time for longer videos, and a new level of flexibility as a supplement to elementary and secondary science curricula. As a result, the short video format is now in high demand by educators simply because it offers teachers an entirely new set of options:

  • It enables teachers who otherwise would use no video at all to include video in their mix of activities, adding an element of variety and visual interest to the lesson period.
  • It allows teachers to maintain control of the classroom teaching environment. There’s no need to “turn out the lights.”
  • Short story narratives are designed as a spark for student discussion. The videos can be used as a lesson-opening activity, or to jump-start a discussion that can be integrated with the regular lesson plan.
  • It provides a perfect application for digital delivery. The short format allows for quicker downloads and takes up relatively little disk space.
  • Along with the goal to spark discussion, the short format also allows teachers more flexibility to take the discussion anywhere they like. A discussion sheet on each video is included, but the discussion sheets are also short to encourage and promote this flexibility.

(For example, an episode about “The Sun” includes only a few "gee-whiz" facts about the Sun. The whole process – video and discussion – can be completed in 5 or 10 minutes if desired. It can serve as a complement to a lesson plan about the Sun in fourth grade, stars in middle school, or different types of stars in high school.)

Short story narratives are meant to capture the interest of a wide spectrum of students, including average students with no special interest in science, and perhaps a short attention span. In this sense, they’re also designed to capture the interest of students in a wider range of age groups.