5 Practices for Orchestrating Productive Task-Based Discussions in Science

by: Jennifer L. Cartier, Margaret S. Smith, Mary Kay Stein, and Danielle K. Ross

A Copublication of NCTM and NSTA Press.

Robust and effective classroom discussions are essential for providing students with opportunities to simultaneously engage in science practices while learning key science content. Using numerous examples and science learning tasks, the authors show how teachers can plan the lesson to encourage students to not only learn science content but employ disciplinary practices as well. This volume outlines the five practices teachers need for facilitating effective inquiry-oriented classrooms:

• Anticipate what students will do—what strategies they will use—in solving a problem
• Monitor their work as they approach the problem in class
• Select students whose strategies are worth discussing in class
• Sequence those students’ presentations to maximize their potential to increase students’ learning
• Connect the strategies and ideas in a way that helps students understand the science learned

The 5 Practices framework identifies a set of instructional practices that will help teachers achieve high-demand learning objectives by using student work as the launching point for discussions in which important scientific ideas are brought to the surface, contradictions are exposed, and understandings are developed or consolidated.


Elementary SchoolMiddle SchoolHigh School

Grade Levels

Elementary High School Middle School


Type NSTA Press BookPub Date 10/15/2013Pages 130ISBN 978-0-87353-745-2

NSTA Press produces classroom-ready activities, hands-on approaches to inquiry, relevant professional development, the latest scientific education news and research, assessment and standards-based instruction.

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