One of the first things I did when I started working with Activate Learning was to visit a classroom that was known for using IQWST with fidelity, so I could get a feel for how very different this curriculum was from everything else out there.
I visited a 6th grade classroom at Lisle Junior High early on a Monday morning. Fully expecting the students to be talking about their weekend when they assembled for class, my first surprise was when they walked in the room and started talking about science. What the heck was happening here?
They were using the “Can I Believe My Eyes?” unit, and the teacher began by recapping where they left off on Friday by first reminding students that they had talked about how it was that they could see through a window but not a wall. Further, they spoke about how it was that they could see a clear plastic bag and see through the bag, whereas sometimes they couldn’t see the glass in a window. And the vocabulary! They were talking about these ideas using words like transparent, translucent, and opaque. (When I was in 6th grade, opaque was what I called my tights … and I had no idea it meant you couldn’t see through them!)
When the teacher asked for volunteers to share their scientific models of how people see, almost every hand in the class shot up. I listened as students presented their models of how they see any object, as well as how they see through some things but not others, while students challenged each other’s ideas, asking questions in a respectful and thoughtful manner. The discussion that followed was lively and again, respectful. It was obvious that this teacher had created a classroom culture that spoke to the tenets of NGSS, allowing the students to feel comfortable sharing their ideas—and disagreeing—about how and why this everyday phenomenon of “sight” works. I was impressed!
But the thing that really got to me was after the class, when the teacher pulled me aside to share something that she had purposefully failed to divulge to me earlier. I had just watched her lowest performing class, in which 2/3 of the students had an IEP. Having come out of the world of special education, this struck a chord with me. The hair on my arms stood on end, and I actually began to cry. This further confirmed my decision to be a part of Activate Learning. Science IS for ALL students. IQWST makes that possible in a way that no other curriculum does.
By: Cynthia Weller, Regional Manager - Midwest