I know that I don't want to use a differentiation method that I've seen before where the students who already know the content are asked to research something else that is either tangentially related or something to deepen their understanding of the content. Research instead of a hands-on lab is a recipe for developing students who hate my class and who hate science.
I also don't feel like I can effectively plan, gather materials for, and monitor multiple lab activities in my classroom at one time.
Recently, I have placated myself with the reminder that NGSS is new and that all of my students need exposure to the science and engineering skills that the labs provide, even if they already have a firm grasp of the DCI that is tied to the investigation. Most of my students enter my class with a limited number of laboratory experiences, so they can learn a lot during our lab activities about the practices that scientists use.
As I seek to continually deepen my understanding of the NGSS and to improve my implementation of them, I have come to a point where it is time to tackle this idea of differentiation in lab activities. Below is a list of some ways I think I can differentiate a lab activity so that my top students are continuing to grow while working through the same lab as (or one very similar to) the one the rest of the class is doing.
- Have students predict what data the lab will generate and then compare their experimental data with the actual data.
- Have the students do more with data analysis. Gather data, create a graph, analyze the graph, determine if there is a relationship between the two variables.
- Have students take the data from the lab, make a prediction that extends from this data, and then experiment further to check their predictions.
- Have students analyze procedures made by other students or provided by the teacher. What are these procedures missing? Where are the possible areas for mistakes?
- Construct a scientific explanation based on the results of the lab experiment.
- Compile and analyze the data from the entire class or several classes.
Are there other ideas that you use as go-tos for differentiating a lab experience? If so, please share.