In a recent Spark Webinar, Mike Fisher joined us to discuss how to use modeling to target the NGSS science and engineering practices. Our goal as science teachers, he explained, is to create a space where students see themselves as scientists. To do this it’s all about creating opportunities for students to be the doers of science!

One way teachers can support this is to help students see the everyday phenomena around them and then help students break down and understand the scientific concepts that make these phenomena possible.

In his presentation, Mike highlights two of the SEPs to illustrate what each practice looks like in a student-centered classroom: 1. Developing and using models and 2. Asking questions.

Devices in Your Classroom: “Phones Are the New Pencil”

It is a truth universally acknowledged that students love their cell phones. Instead of fighting it, why not harness it as a tool for students to use for your class? Mike encourages teachers to create opportunities for students to use their phones. This can be done by asking students to find a similar phenomenon to one talked about in class or that illustrates a concept you have been studying. Perhaps it can be a used as a jumping off point, as student capture an image of something that made them curious.

For example:

In Practice: Developing and Using Models


  1. Allow time for students to share their models with one another.
  2. Solicit warm and cool feedback from students—What makes sense in this model? Is there something that doesn’t fit?
  3. Have students gather more information through research and reading.
  4. Based on feedback and continued learning, have students make changes to their initial model.
  5. For more advanced levels, students should be able to evaluate a given model—can they articulate why or why not the model explains something? Can they make suggestions to improve the accuracy or sophistication of the model?
Example of Student Models

In Practice: Asking Questions

Extend Learning Experiences with Technology

Download the PowerPoint
Watch the Webinar

If you have any tips about using devices for science learning, or app recommendations, let us know! Email us at [email protected]!

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