Teaching Strategies Unit Guides

Inquiry Unit – Teacher’s Guide

Welcome! This post has been written with the intention of helping you plan an engaging and comprehensive Inquiry Unit for your middle school science class. If you’re arriving to this page from somewhere other than the Teachers Pay Teachers site, this is the product that this guide was written for. Here’s how I teach using these resources:

Note: Items are listed in the order in which they would be used. Lessons are not broken into specific “days” as many of us have vastly different timings per class period. 

  1. Scientific Inquiry Vocabulary Activities
    I always start my units with a vocabulary sheet. I’ve found this works for me for several reasons. 1) All students get an introduction to the vocabulary they’ll be required to learn. 2) All students are capable of this task. No copy pasting, only writing. For difficult students, this is a chance to praise them for successfully completed work. They will do it, because they can. 3) I need a very unfun assignment for early test finishers that won’t incentivize students to rush. I always pass out the vocabulary for the next unit as students finish the test from the previous unit. If you’re going in cold, you may not want to do it this way.
    This product also includes two other vocabulary activities which work great when a lesson doesn’t quite finish the class as a time filler.
  2. Vocabulary Crossword
    I’ve recently added yet another vocab activity to this bundle. In this crossword, students read definitions as clues and fill in the words in the spaces. I really enjoy the “self checking” aspect of crosswords as it prevents wrong information from being studied.
  3. What is Science: Presentation
    I like to start my inquiry unit with a very general day about what science is and what scientists really do. This lesson includes a lot of facts about the history of science as well as describing the qualities of a scientist. Students will be prompted to think about how they may exemplify some of those qualities in their own lives.
  4. Problem Solving Activity
    I like to stress to my students that we apply the scientific method in our lives all the time, even when we don’t realize it. This activity is a fun, no prep way to get the kids in problem solving mode. They’ll be prompted to compare the steps they take with the steps of the scientific method. Everyone can do science!
  5. Scientific Method: Presentation
    Cement that learning with a presentation on the scientific method. Students will get down all the steps and key vocabulary necessary to do a scientific investigation. In the end, students make a foldable which is great for interactive notebooks!
  6. Variables and Controls Practice
    Get students in the mode of identifying variables and controls with this simple practice. Can be used in class or as homework.
  7. Investigations Practice with Minecraft
    My experience has always been that it takes kids a little while to master the concept of independent and dependent variables, so give them another shot at it with this fun Minecraft themed practice!
  8. Variables with Magazine Ads
    Take it one step further with this extension activity. Students must find magazine (or perhaps internet pop ups these days!) ads that advertise with an independent/dependent variable kind of slogan. “If you take _____, you’ll get _____ results!” This could be a extension for your students who get it early on, or it could be something you do with the whole class. I’d advise bringing in some examples for lower students to pick from.
  9. Reading and Drawing Conclusions from Graphs
    As another extension to variables, I like to give my students some practice with graphs. As you know, the x and y axis of most scientific graphs represent the independent and dependent variables of the investigation. This activity can really give your kids a leg up when it comes to standardized testing!
  10. Bias and Error: Presentation
    Now that your students are solid on what an investigation should look like, let’s show them where things can go wrong! Includes practice questions for internal assessment.
  11. Bias Practice
    This activity has always been a favorite of mine. These short stories are great for a whole group discussion. Give enough time for students to privately consider each situation, and then allow for whole group share time. It’s sure to bring up some interesting ideas!
  12. Scientific Investigations Practice
    Test prep assignment including 20 multiple choice questions for your students to finalize their learning. Includes space for students to defend their answers.
  13. Inquiry Color By Number
    For a day when you just need a minute to rest, this color by number review will keep the kids occupied and provide some artwork for the bulletin boards. I understand the importance of rigor, but I’d also argue that it’s always important to give the kids assignments that they can feel successful with! Sometimes we all just need to color.
  14. Scientific Inquiry Quiz (FREE)
    Any time after you’ve taught bias, it’s safe to give this quick formative quiz. Use it when you feel you need some feedback, possibly before or after the investigations practice.
  15. Inquiry Study Guide and Test
    Last but certainly not least, the study guide and the test. Always make sure the students have early access to the study guide. The test can be used as their final summative mark for the unit. Formatives can be given as you see best fit!

This product is designed to be affordable and useful to teachers in middle school science. Please leave feedback as to how I could better serve you and others through this bundle or the creation of new resources. My work is meaningful when it takes some of the stress off of YOU.

Teaching is a weird job. I’d love to connect and discuss our successes and failures on my instagram (@laney.leee).  Please reach out and ask me anything.

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