In the article KLEWS to Explanation-Building in Science, we learned about a specific procedure to follow when teaching science. The procedure, called KLEWS, allows students to track their learning throughout an investigation, building up to the understanding of a scientific principle. We start with K- What do we think we know? This step extracts students’ prior knowledge and gives the teacher an idea of what each student brings to the table (whether it’s correct or not). The next step is L- What are we learning? Students would fill out this column while investigating with different claims they have to answer the guiding questions. Simultaneously, students fill out E- What is our evidence? In this step, students list their observations that they feel substantiate their claims. Next, the students come up with ideas for further investigation or subsequent questions that came up throughout the investigation in the W- What do we still wonder about? column. Last is S- What scientific principles/ vocabulary help explain the phenomena? This step is the last of the investigation, once students have already made claims and listed their observations. In this step, the teacher explains the concept behind what they learned. It is crucial that this is the last step because students can make connections to a general concept from their own, personal experience in the investigation. It also brings the class together at the conclusion of an experiment. It allows the teacher to consolidate students’ knowledge in a concise manner. Students should be the ones to dictate the scientific definitions and vocabulary because if it is in their own words, that demonstrates that they are working with their own knowledge and applying it, rather than just repeating a concept from a book.

The KLEWS chart moves through all the steps involved in scientific reasoning: CER. C stands for Claims, which we make in the L section of KLEWS. Then, E stands for Evidence just as it does in KLEWS. And last, R stands for Reasoning. In the KLEWS chart, it is the S section that involves scientific reasoning. Throughout an investigation, students list their observations and claims to answer a guiding question from their observations. Then, at the end, they learn science definitions which they re-construct to explain specifically how their investigation works because of a scientific principle. In CER, the Reasoning portion means connecting the evidence to the claim and explaining why the evidence supports the claim. One must use scientific ideas in the reasoning portion. The R- and S-aspects boil down to the same thing.

KLEWS and CER help facilitate science learning because it moves students from hands-on activity to minds-on activity. It directs an investigation to build on what the children know until they hit a scientific proof. The students actively participate from the start and even in the last step, the scientific principle that explains their claims and evidence must be constructed from their own thoughts and words. Because KLEWS builds on students’ prior knowledge and involves their input at every step, it makes the final concept much more tangible for them. They truly will understand the concept, not just memorize a definition of the concept. In addition, KLEWS and CER require students to reflect on and verbalize their learning at every step in the scientific process. This metacognition is powerful for learners because it will pinpoint any holes in their logic, allowing students to focus their attention on the problem, rather than have an overall hazy understanding because of a misconception or flawed reasoning. Overall, the use of KLEWS and CER in a science investigation promote a more objective, clarified, and thorough understanding of science.

2 thoughts on “KLEWS

  1. Amanda

    I really enjoyed reading your post about the KLEWS process, Cara. I agree with you when you say it really helps student engage in hands on learning then move forward to more critical thinking skills. I think its important for students to feel that deeper connection with the material, not just read definitions out of a textbook because science really is so hands on. KLEWS is such a special framework, because as you mentioned, it helps students rely on some sort of prior knowledge when beginning the process. Even if their prior knowledge is not necessarily “correct”, it still allows the students to get involved in class and encourages participation. It also helps them recall the information more clearly if they can distinctly recall “hey we did that in our KLEWS chart” or “someone mentioned that when talking about what they think they know”. Both CER and KLEWS seem to be great frameworks for science learning and I know we’re probably both anxious to test them out one day!

  2. Taylor Manalo

    Cara, thank you for sharing your thoughts on KLEWS and CER, and how they enhance scientific explanation and understanding. One of the most prominent aspects of KLEWS that really stood out to me was the emphasis on asking kids what they THINK they know; this way, students are encouraged to share any initial ideas that they have, regardless of whether or not these ideas are correct. By encouraging students to think about and test prior knowledge, we provide students with a perfect first step to scaffolding learning. Both KLEWS and CER allow kids to build on prior knowledge, as you discuss, and the scaffolding that is formed ensures that children are presented with information on many levels in order to solidify a concept. The hands-on and minds-on approaches are combined through KLEWS. Because students are given the opportunity to explore investigations themselves and to then link the conclusions they observe to overarching scientific principles, science understanding is made real and memorable for children.

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