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Labs are not a new concept in the science classroom. Labs are how we learned, how our parents learned, etc. etc. I'm sure as you were unpacking the standards and thinking about the SEPs, this was one you had down. "I do tons of labs, students are always experimenting." So how is Planning and Carrying out Investigations different from lab based instruction? 



- conducting labs on "settled science" 

- redoing the lab until students get it "right"

- printing and prescribing the labs you will do (cookbook-style labs)

- defaulting to the prescribed scientific method 

- a true assessment of how well they follow directions


      All students can engage in helping to plan and carry             out investigations at some level, with scaffolded support. Take a look at the progression of this SEP

So how do we shift our focus and our practice? What slight changes can we make to an already great aspect of our instruction? 


As with other SEPs this practice should be used in tandem with others, here's a visual of a sample investigative series.  



Teaching in 3D Podcast


Now it's time to PLAN, as we have seen, this is a key part of PLANNING and carrying out the investigations. However, keep in mind, the practice aims to support students in taking an increasingly larger role in this aspect of instruction. 

Here I pose these "Could they..."questions. Select one or two and plan how you will put them into action in your next unit. (They meaning students)

Could they help in...

  • 1. Deciding what and how to measure, observe, and sample;

  • 2. Developing or selecting procedures/tools to measure and collect data;

  • 3. Documenting and systematically recording results and observations;

  • 4. Devising representations for structuring data and patterns of observations; and

  • 5. Determining if (1) the data are good (valid and reliable) and can be used as evidence, (2) additional or new data are needed, or (3) a new investigation design or set of measurements are needed.

You may not be ready to jump all in having your students go from the phenomenon and Driving Question to figuring out how to investigate the idea from scratch. Maybe your students just haven't had enough experience with labs/experiments/investigations to know the components and what the options are for controls / variables. That's okay. You need to meet them where they are, and start from where you are. ​Use this thinking tool to self-assess what you might be ready for. 





A) Starting with a "confirmed science" lab

B) Students help to frame out the investigation, but you supplement with a lab you know is safe

C) Collaboratively or individually students plan to investigate a question

Complete the thinking and planning tool to help ask yourself some questions before your next unit. Feel free to add more information, it is just a starting place. 




Put your plan into action! Having planned for students to model, give it a chance! Students can model on chart paper, plain paper, whiteboards, digitally - there are so many options.  Want help? Let's connect and we can talk through it. 

To get credit for this learning, share your planning tool and either your lab or the one that students planned and carried out. To submit your work for this module, use this Google Form. 


Based on what you have been reading, thinking, watching, planning, and doing, try completing this More Like - Less Like chart. I put some of the less like side of things, how would you complete the More Like side? What would it include? How would it change or shift? Then consider where you are in your instructional practice if you were to consider a likert scale between one side to the other. Where do you have room to grow? Where could you model for your colleagues? 

*Make your copy, complete the chart, and share it with

Of course, feel free to reach out for support, I'd be happy to work through it with you. 

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