[RI]² Planning Heuristic

For teachers and curriculum designers interested in creating their own [RI]² units, we recommend use of the design heuristic presented below. The heuristic presents nine iterative process steps, and the steps have a suggested product. Teaching and curriculum design are complex processes dependent on multiple factors that are difficult to anticipate. With this in mind, we offer the design heuristic as a tool to help advance development processes. While this basic sequence has been helpful for out team in the design of issue-based units, the process steps should not be interpreted as being necessarily lock-step.

 

Process

Product

Example from the Vanishing Prairie Module CC 

1

Explore possible issues, big ideas in science, and target practice(s)

Large scale issue, science themes and focal practices

Issue: Climate Change

Science Theme: Ecology

Practice: Modeling

2

Search level-appropriate NGSS PEs that relate to the science themes.

Bundled NGSS PEs that highlight content appropriate DCI and CCC.

  • HS-LS2-1. Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales.
  • HS-LS2-2. Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
  • HS-LS2-3. Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for the cycling of matter and flow of energy in aerobic and anaerobic conditions. 

3

Narrow the focus of the content to be covered and the issue

Specified science content and a focused issue

Science Content: Ecological interactions; Relationships between photosynthesis and cellular respiration

Focused issue: The effect of climate change on a local ecosystem

4

Develop unit-level performance expectations (PE)

Unit level PEs

  • Develop and use models to explore population size and growth. The models should account for biotic potential, environmental resistance, and population growth patterns (logistic and exponential). 
  • Use an ecosystem model to make predictions regarding the stability/change of populations within a particular ecosystem in response to climatic changes. Engage in argumentation about the relative stability/change of an ecosystem.
  • A complete list of the PEs can be viewed here

5

Develop unit assessments

Unit assessments

  • Summative model of climate change impacts on a species of student’s choice. A description of this modeling project is available here, and a sample product is available here.
  • Test of ecology concepts.

6

Design unit outline 

Unit outline

The unit outline for the Vanishing Prairie module is available here.

7

Develop lesson plans

Lesson plans

Individual lesson plans for the module are available here.

8

Implement the unit

Records of classroom implementation and student learning

During the implementation of the Vanishing Prairie module, we took notes during and/or following each class session. We also examined student work and compared early unit models with their final models and projects.

9

Review and evaluate the unit—Return to one of the earlier steps (1-7), make modifications and progress

Following the first implementation, we returned to step 5 to significantly revise the culminating project, which was a student generated model a species and the impacts of climate change on this species. 

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