Planning for multi-dimensions


Planning for multi-dimensions
  • Introduction
  • Relative position and motion resource links
  • Initial outline showing science dimensions, concepts, and activities
  • Another example for plants


This article describes how outstanding teachers include ideas from multiple dimensions in their teaching and student learning. It begins with a collection of resources to be used in a relative position and motion unit linked below:

Relative position and motion resource links

Assorted sample plans

Sample Sequence for Fourth grade Science Curriculum Improvement Study (SCIS) - physical science module Relative Position and Motion -

Sampled teacher manual pages in PDF

Years objectives by sections for the module

Concept Map of multiple science dimensions threaded to activities sequence


Image for introductory observation inference activity - Snow White

Image for introductory observation inference activity - Tracks

Image for introductory Four day observation inference activity -

  1. Day one images - first - second - third
  2. Day two images - first- second - third
  3. Day three images - first- second - third
  4. Day four images - first- second - third

Bird in cage materials - bird pattern - bird sample

Four position puzzles -

Rectangular coordinate and Cartesian coordinate activities

Polar coordinate puzzles

Puzzle one - map 1

- map of letters for word puzzle

- map zoo

Initial outline showing science dimensions, concepts, and activities

The illustration below describes the information included as the initial activities in the unit for relative position and motion.

The colored bars reprsent threads and all together represent a piece of yarn. Stars represent activities and the conceps are identified below. Below the chart is an outlinen for development of a relative position and motion unit.

Imagine the bands at the top as a piece of yarn and each colored bar as a hair or piece of fiber in the yarn. Each piece of wool yarn can be thought of as a learning sequence with each hair learning sequence including activities that are opportunities for students to conceptualize the targeted facts, relationships, and concepts listed below.

Suppose the list of science dimensions and the facts, relationships, and concepts were unpacked as the information desired for students to learn. Then activities were selected and sequenced to present the students with opportunities to construct and learn the information. The yarn across the top is a quick way to see how multiple dimensions are included in the sequence and for which activity.

If the lesson included or relied on other concepts then additional haris or combinations of hairs would need to be added for each concept represented in an activity. Some would be included for maybe only one activity and other hairs would overlap from one activity to another if the concepts were included in them for students to learn. This would create, as is the case of yarn, hairs that start and stop in the yarn at different places. With hairs starting before and after others, with some overlapping and others separated by other hairs along the length of the yarn. With the entire yarn representing a topic or subject of instruction for a certain period of time.

Of course not all of the concept hairs need to be targeted with instructional activities. If the teacher knows students' existing knowledge includes certain information; then the concept hairs are included in the appropriate part of the yarn, but there is no need to target them for instruction, as they are already know by the student. However, they are necessary to include as that information must be available for students to use to be successful.

relative position and motion map



Another example for plants

Begin by thinking about the inclusion of different science dimensions in a sequence plan for a plant unit and seeds.

Of course focusing on seeds narrows the study of plants and their properties to the specific property of plant reproduction by seeds.

Using the yarn analogy to represent multiple dimensions of science there will need to be included a strand for the concept of a seed. That is the beginning for facilitating the conceptualization of the concept of a seed (hairs for seed in the yarn).

As a teacher unpacks the properties of seeds and she may plan to ask students if there are parts to seeds and encourage them to wonder about the properties of different seed parts, their functions, and relationships. So part of the sequence will focus on seed parts and their function (more concept hairs in the yarn). Hairs that represent seeds, seed coat, embryo, cotyledon, and functions like - seed coat protects, embryo is the baby plant, cotyledon provides the food,... are included as threads in the yarn where ever that information is needed for construction of ideas about plants there would be a piece of yarn representing those hairs inside it. All facts, concepts, and other ideas that students need have a hairs in the yarn, but only hairs that the teacher chooses may have activities or assessment points on them.

Let's say the she also plans to help students create an experiment to investigate the purposes of the different seed parts as her instructional strategy. Since, students have done several experiments before, then the concepts aren't being introduced, but she plans on seeing if they can identify and suggest experiments related to different seed parts. She would target activities and assessement that would identify if students know to select variables related to seed parts to plan an investigation. Therefore, in the yarn there would be hairs related to variables and experimenting where activities and assessment can happen. So there are hairs for the science practices and inquiry, and all the hairs that represent the different steps and processes of inquiry and experimenting where they are needed in the yarn and they may have activities and assessment points. (To get the bad pun out of the way - Yeah I know, it's getting to be a hairy situation.)

She plans to guide students to the idea that they can disect seeds into parts and put each part and combinations of parts into germination chambers. Set them aside and chart the growth or lack of growth of the different parts in cm on a graph with a small polka dots representing the length of the various seed parts for each day of the experiment. When the data on a particular day has an interesting range she plans to use that to start to facilitate students' conceptual understanding of average of data points (hair) by asking students questions about how they could summarize and explain the data for that certain seed part on that particular day and using the dots to help students visualize how averages plotted on a graph represents all of the data points for that average.

That's a small slice of what happens in a science classroom with respect to integration of multiple science dimensions. The planning becomes, yes hairy, because there are and should be many concepts that are being facilitated simultaneously. The challenge for outstanding teachers is to include this complexity in planning.




Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes