To Design Instruction, Option G:
Introduction to Risk Analysis (Grades 9-12)

Estimated Time: 6-8 hours. (It is recommended that this workshop be held over two days.)

List of Materials

Sample Presentation
Distribute copies of Science for All Americans and Benchmarks for Science Literacy or handouts with appropriate excerpts.

Presenter: The purpose of this activity is to learn to design instruction based on our analysis of how effectively the 9-12 lesson "Introduction to Risk Analysis" reflects the principles of Project 2061.

1. Set the context for the lesson. (5-10 minutes)

Have participants skim Chapter 8, The Designed World, in Science for All Americans.

Ask: Are there any ideas here that especially interest you? Any ideas that you do not usually teach?

Discuss responses.

Presenter: The designed world—the world of engineering and technology¾ has not always been part of traditional science instruction. But Science for All Americans suggests that, for the science literate person, the designed world must be an integral part of the learner’s experience. In this part of the workshop we are going to take you through a lesson that is based on SFAA and Benchmarks and that teaches an important concept in science and technology, the concept of risk analysis.

Explore what participants know about risk analysis. Organize the participants into groups of four or five and ask them to work together to list at least six examples of recently developed technology that have brought benefits to humanity. List some of these on the board or a transparency. Ask whether these technologies also involve risks for humanity and what these risks are. Comment that in considering a new technology we always have to look at the extent to which the risks negate the benefits and how much more risk one technology may involve than another.

Presenter: We also have to help our students understand risk analysis. I am now going to teach part of a grade 9-12 lesson that was developed using Project 2061 principles and tools for science literacy. Then we will analyze the lesson. Later we will look at the design procedure.

2. Teach the lesson. (75-90 minutes)

Teach as much of the lesson "Introduction to Risk Analysis" as time and materials permit. Be sure to encourage careful reflection on the many issues involved in the cases of risk analysis offered in the lesson.

3. Explore the central benchmark and determine how effectively the lesson addresses it. (90 minutes)

Presenter: One of the defining characteristics of Project 2061 reform is that instruction will explicitly address specific learning goals. 

TRANSPARENCY: Central Benchmark: Introduction to Risk Analysis (9-12).

Presenter: This benchmark is the learning goal for this lesson. According to this benchmark, what are students expected to know?   Ask the participants to describe to their partners their understanding of the benchmark. Have several pairs report to the whole group. Record some of their comments on a transparency.

Display the TRANSPARENCY: Exploring Project 2061 Tools-3B.

Presenter: We are now going to see how Science for All Americans and Benchmarks for Science Literacy can be used to give us additional insights into what this benchmark intends students to know. We will study the benchmark in relation to the five readings shown on the transparency. Each reading has a purpose.  

Briefly review for participants the purposes of the five readings shown on the transparency:
  • The section in Science for All Americans from which the benchmark originated.
  • SFAA recommends goals for adult science literacy; Benchmarks recommends specific learning goals for grades 2, 5, 8, and 12 that can contribute to adult literacy. There is a corresponding Benchmarks section for each SFAA section. Reading the SFAA section helps participants understand what literacy in that whole topic is defined to be, and thus where the benchmark is aiming.
  • All other benchmarks in the K-12 list of benchmarks in the same Benchmarks section.
  • Reading the other benchmarks helps participants understand the level of sophistication intended by the benchmark.
  • Introductory essays in the Benchmarks section for the benchmark being studied.
  • The section introduction and grade-level essays help participants understand difficulties students may have with the benchmark topic. They also offer some suggestions for helping students achieve the benchmark.
  • Summaries of research on the topic from Benchmarks, Chapter 15.
  • The research selection suggests likely limitations in student understanding of the benchmark (and therefore its grade placement) and points participants to the original research articles.
  • A relevant strand map, if one is available, from Benchmarks on Disk.
  • A strand map helps participants see how other benchmarks relate to the benchmark being studied and their importance for understanding that benchmark.
    TRANSPARENCY: Strand Map: Considering Costs and Benefits of Technology.

    Distribute the HANDOUT: Strand Map: Considering Costs and Benefits of Technology to each participant.

    Presenter: Before we begin the readings, I’ll take a moment to introduce the strand map that some of you will be studying. Strands are networks of benchmarks through which students might progress on their way to the adult literacy goals defined in Science for All Americans. Each box on the map contains the text of a single benchmark. The strands show the development of concepts from rudimentary benchmarks at the elementary level through middle school learning to the sophisticated level of understanding expected of high school graduates. Strand maps show how related benchmarks build on and reinforce one another. There are 30 strand maps on Benchmarks on Disk.  

    Display the TRANSPARENCY: Exploring Project 2061 Tools-3B.

    Presenter: Your task is to study the reading you have been assigned to see how it affects your understanding of the benchmark and then share what you have learned with your group.  

    After participants have completed their studies, ask individuals to explain to other members of their group or to the total group what their particular reading contributed to their understanding of the benchmarks. Record participants’ comments on a blank transparency. Use this transparency and the one you created earlier in the session to compare understanding before and after the study.

    Distribute HANDOUT: Lesson Plan: Introduction to Risk Analysis (9-12).

    Ask participants to review the lesson, paying particular attention to any parts of the lesson that were not taught. Have participants reflect in pairs on their experiences in the lesson and their examination of the lesson plan for evidence that the lesson addresses the central benchmark. Develop a list on chart paper of ways in which this lesson addresses the central benchmark. Ask participants to provide evidence for each statement.

    4. Explore benchmarks related to this lesson. (20-30 minutes)

    HANDOUT: Benchmarks for Lesson Plan: Introduction to Risk Analysis (9-12).

    Presenter: As you look at the list of benchmarks related to this lesson, please be aware that the list resulted from a deliberate, methodical study of the book Benchmarks. For this topic, the lesson developer read and thought about the benchmarks at all grade levels. This enabled him to see how earlier and later learning related to the topic of the lesson. The lesson developer also investigated connections between the lesson topic and other related topics, using a procedure we will practice in a few moments. But first, please look over this list.   Give participants time to review the list.

    Presenter: What are some ways that this list of benchmarks might influence instructional planning?  

    Possible answers: A teacher or group of teachers would be aware of a progression of understanding from early to later grades and of connections across chapters; of a variety of benchmarks that could be the focus of lessons at each grade level; of the importance of explicitly developing habits of mind in the design of activities.

    Ask participants to refer to the Also See box for 3B Design and Systems in Benchmarks for Science Literacy. Explain that the lesson designer used the Also See box to identify related benchmarks.

    Presenter: Notice that within this box are references to other chapters and sections that contain ideas related to this section. We will examine a few of these.

    Assign each group one reference to investigate. It is not necessary to assign all references in the Also See box. We recommend that you include these assignments: 1C, 2B, 7D, 8C, 10G.

    Presenter: As you read the material in the chapter and section your group is assigned, look for conceptual connections to 3B Design and Systems. Be prepared to comment on the connections you identified and how these might help shape the design of instruction on the topic of systems.

    Collect some responses from participants and record these on a blank transparency or chart.

    Invite participants to reflect for a moment on the connections made among benchmarks in this lesson and to share any comments they have. Now is the time to tell participants that the Also See box does not reference other sections within Chapter 3 because, of course, we know these sections are closely related.

    5. Explore how the lesson reflects the principles of Project 2061. (30 minutes)

    TRANSPARENCY: Principles for Lessons.

    Presenter: Let’s consider to what extent this lesson applies the principles of Project 2061 in teaching about this topic.

    Have participants singly or in small groups consider each item on the transparency and give evidence from the lesson that each listed Project 2061 principle is used in this lesson. You may wish to mention that we have already discussed our analysis of how the lesson addresses explicit learning goals.

    Allow time for participants to consider each point. As participants share their comments, be sure the following points are made:

    As a means of encouraging participants to offer additional examples of how the lesson reflects the pedagogical principles of Project 2061, show TRANSPARENCY: Principles of Effective Learning and Teaching. Presenter: This transparency summarizes material from Chapter 13 in Science for All Americans. Read through this list. Does it prompt any additional comments about the lesson’s application of Project 2061’s principles?

    Show TRANSPARENCY: Inquiry and Scientific Values.

    Presenter: This transparency elaborates two of the teaching principles that characterize effective teaching of mathematics, science, and technology. As you review this list, think again about the lesson we studied today. Is there evidence that it is consistent with the nature of scientific inquiry? Would it assist teachers in their efforts to teach science as a process of inquiry, reflective of scientific values? Does it support activities such as beginning discussions with questions about nature, providing an historical perspective, concentrating on collection and use of evidence? What evidence supports your response to these questions?

    Encourage participants to offer specific examples of how the teaching of the lesson is consistent with the nature of inquiry and reflects scientific values.

    6. Explore how instruction about risk analysis might change if Project 2061 tools were used in the design of this instruction. (5-10 minutes)

    Using the think-pair-share strategy, have participants describe how their teaching about control mechanisms might change if they used the Project 2061 tools in designing instruction. Remind participants that careful study and clear understanding of the benchmarks are necessary to bring about change in instruction.

    Presenter: By using SFAA and all of the parts of Benchmarks, we practice thinking differently about what should be taught.

    7. Exploring a design procedure.
         a. Engage participants in the design of a new lesson. (90-180 minutes)

    TRANSPARENCY: Steps in Designing Instruction.

    Presenter: Before I taught parts of the lesson today, I said that it was developed by a teacher who applied Project 2061’s principles and used its curriculum design tools in designing the lesson. What does this mean? Let’s look at the design procedure that was used.

    HANDOUT: Steps in Designing Instruction.

    Presenter: These steps recommend one way to plan instruction. The design procedure begins with a topic selected by the developer and then turns to a reflective use of the Project 2061 tools as instruction is developed. The steps move us away from answering questions such as, "Which benchmarks support this or that activity?" toward the question, "What kinds of activities support the array of benchmarks that study of the tools identifies?"

    Ask participants to read through the steps of the procedure.

    Presenter: Are the steps familiar to you?   (Probable response: yes; we used some of them today in analyzing the lesson on risk analysis.)

    Presenter: The best way to understand this procedure and its potential for guiding instructional planning is to use it. We will do that now.

    Invite participants, working either alone or in pairs, to use step 1 to select a topic about which they would like to design instruction.

    Have participants complete step 2 by finding the section in SFAA that relates to their topic. Ask them to read the appropriate paragraphs with two purposes in mind: to identify what a science literate person should know about the topic and to consider how current curriculum materials and classroom instruction at all grade levels might need to change if students completing grade 12 are to progress toward the understandings described. Have participants record their responses on chart paper. Post these and discuss them as a whole group.

    Continue in this way, supporting the participants as they move through the steps. You may wish to have journal entries shared at various points in the procedure.

         b. Analyze the design procedure. (15-20 minutes)

    Presenter: You have had an opportunity to use this procedure for designing instruction. Based on this limited exposure to the design procedure, how would you answer these questions?

    Allow time for participants to think about these questions and discuss them with a partner. Collect some responses and record them on a transparency or chart paper.

    Distribute the HANDOUT: CELLS Through the Lens of Benchmarks. Ask participants to read it. 

    Presenter: How does the author of these reflections respond to these questions? She tells us that she did not begin her planning on cells by going first to her files or current textbooks but instead by rereading SFAA on cells to discover what it says are the goals to teach toward. She uses the essays and research in Benchmarks to find out what misconceptions students often have about cells and what concepts they may have difficulty understanding.  

    Invite participants to respond to the ideas shared in the essay.

    Presenter: Do you believe use of this design procedure would result in improved instruction in your school system? Why or why not? 

    Take some responses to these questions from participants. Briefly summarize what has been learned in the lesson design activity.