17 students, 3 of whom speak English as a second language at
home, and 4 of whom had only one parent residing at home at
the time of implementation.
students come from blue to white collar families of multi-ethnic
backgrounds, living in a middle class community.
typical instruction method that I use with my class is independent
small group lessons during which I do one of the following:
around to the groups and do one-to-one instruction as needed
remain in one group to guide in the focus lesson for the
reading/writing with individual students
work in teams of four or five and rotate from station to station
for four stations each day. At each station, they have
specific lessons to do. The following is an example of
the stations on any particular day:
Arts: Using magnetic alphabets, create sight words and/or
sentences that use sight words
Look around the classroom and draw things that are circles
Observe the object and record what you see (draw what you
see and write about it)
Using watercolor, create a scene in nature
Engage students in exploring the characteristics
of the life cycle concept
Provide students the opportunity to experience the Research
Investigation Process (RIP) in its entirety
Provide students with a system
for life-long learning through which any question they have
about the world around them can be answered
Provide students the opportunity to
acquire the skills needed in performing scientific inquiry
teacher does not provide
answers but rather facilitates how to find answers
teacher uses Socratic questioning
to guide students throughout their learning
Stimulate student interest to learn
about science by providing students with the opportunity to
answer their own questions and test their own hypotheses about
the natural world through investigation
explore and understand characteristics
of the life cycle through scientific inquiry using the Research
Investigation Process (RIP)
observe the life cycle of the butterfly
record observations accurately
ask wondering questions
gather background information
build tentative answers to one
of the questions
design and conduct a study to test
our answer to the question
record data accurately and honestly
evaluate findings and summarize what
was learned about our tentative answer
Books about the life cycle of a butterfly
The Butterfly-by Paula Z. Hogan
The Very Hungry Caterpillar-by Eric Carle
The Monarch Butterfly's Life-by
From Caterpillar to Butterfly-by
Butterflies-Zoobooks by Beth Wagner Brust
Butterfly & Caterpillar-by Barry Watts
Life of the Butterfly-by Heiderose and Andreas
Blank KWL Chart with titles of columns
Source of monarch butterfly caterpillar food (in Hawaii,
leaves of the crown flower plant)
Short vase with "frogs" to hold branch of crown
for life cycle environment
Monarch butterfly caterpillar eggs attached to leaves of the
crown flower plant
Monarch butterfly caterpillars
of water to hold vase so that none of the caterpillars escape
and crawl freely around the classroom
Life Cycle of a Butterfly Timeline Book (made by students)
Caterpillar Log Book (one for each student to record daily
this is the first scientific inquiry experience for these students,
students will be guided through the steps of the RIP and the method
section of the study will be designed by the teacher.
Over a two-day period, read the books
about butterflies to the students
Have students make a timeline book of
the stages of the butterfly:
create the KWL Chart about butterflies
Have the students share information
they learned from listening the books that were read to them
and their own experiences and observations
List this information on the
KWL Chart under the first column, "What I Know."
Model an"I Wonder..."question for the students.
Then have students ask their
own "I wonder..." questions and list these under
the second column of the KWL Chart.
incorporate "I wonder..." question into the RIP cycle
of their "I wonder..." questions to be their research
will the butterfly come out?
Socratic questioning to derive the student observation which
took place that led to the research question
the five senses were you using when you asked this question?
were you observing when you came up with this question?
Socratic questioning to come up with the background
hear any information about how long it takes for the chrysalis
to turn into a butterfly?
did the book say?
would take two weeks.
Use Socratic questioning to come up with the hypothesis
What do we
need to do to see if the butterfly will come out?
the chrysalis and wait.
How long do
we need to wait?
because the book said so.
How many days
are in two weeks?
days are in two weeks.
Constructed in Classroom
Thus, our hypothesis
we watch the chrysalis each day to see if the butterfly comes
out, then we will see the butterfly on the
fourteenth day because the books say that
the butterfly will come out of the chrysalis at the end of two
observe caterpillars and eggs daily
make illustrations of their observations
record their observations into their caterpillar log daily
Students record daily observations of the chrysalis onto a
summarize and analyze the data they have collected
When butterfly comes out, record the number of days in the
Results step of the RIP.
students through the Discussion and Conclusion
step of the RIP
Socratic questioning to lead students into drawing conclusions
about the hypothesis they were testing and the answer to their
How long did you say that it would take for the
butterfly to come out from the chrysalis before we began our
What do you
notice about the number of days the book says it takes a butterfly
to come out from the chrysalis and the number of days it took
our butterfly to come out from the chrysalis?
Why was the number of days different?
What if the book is not wrong?
Students discover answers to their "I wonder..."
When will it become
the answer to their research question
Students plan what they will do next:
Repeat their study to see if they get the same results and
can learn more about the answer to their research question
guides the Next Step component of the
share what they have done and learned with others
life cycle of the butterfly
life cycle of the butterfly
Socratic questioning to lead students in making summary statements:
was it like to discover how many days it took for the chrysalis
to turn into a butterfly?
you feel while doing this scientific inquiry?
the cycle of a butterfly?
about the concept of a life cycle?
Record observations and collect data accurately and honestly?
Discover answers to their wondering questions?
Demonstrate an understanding of the steps in scientific inquiry?
Summarize and evaluate what they learned?
can students explain about the Research Investigation Process?
Flowchart of the RIP for
(Click on chart
Research Investigation Process (RIP)
I applied the RIP flow chart to define the steps of scientific inquiry using one
of the students' "I wonder..." questions from the KWL
Chart as the research question.
The research question:
will the butterfly come out [of the chrysalis]?
After I completed the
RIP flow chart for this research investigation and reproduced
it onto a chart paper, it appeared too wordy for the students
in my class, even when I broke it down into parts.
It then dawned
on me that since the concept of "cycle" was already
introduced in the diagram of the Life Cycle of the Butterfly,
the students' exposure to and understanding of the circular nature
of the life cycle concept could be used to simplify the RIP flowchart.
Thus, I made the flowchart simpler for the students by
by using a circle with arrows. Simplifying the system made it
possible for the students to read each step.
It took about six days
over a two week period to complete the RIP cycle with the students.
The Observation, Research Question, Background Information,
and Hypothesis were completed in one lesson. Socratic
Questioning was used in order for the students to verbalize each
of these four components. On the second and third day, I
had the students read and re-read each of these components. Then,
in the fourth lesson, I introduced the Plan of the Study.
Because this was the students' first experience with the RIP,
the Plan of Study was teacher-created and was already written
down. The students made illustrations to match the words.
To carry out the Plan
of the Study, each student had a Caterpillar Log where they recorded
(drew pictures and wrote down) what they observed:
Student log book
Student log book
As important events
took place (hatching of the egg, caterpillar turning to a chrysalis),
I was sure to assess that the students' observations included
these and made sure that they recorded these observations.
forming a chrysalis
flowchart of the butterfly RIP
(Use slide control or click on square at top of chart to enlarge)
RIP flowchart in the form of a cycle
log book entry
recording their data
using the magnify
glass as a tool
in scientific inquiry
a master calendar, I kept record of what stage of the cycle
occurred each day:
caterpillar popped out of the egg, observations were recorded
daily. While observing the caterpillars and the chrysalis
with magnifying glass, the students asked the "I wonder..."
questions with more meaning and relevance.
The following are some
of the student questions:
How long does it take a caterpillar to turn into
How does it know to eat its own skin?
How does it know when to turn into a butterfly?
Is it a boy or a girl?
Is that the green blood? (One butterfly got
flattened by the door hinge when we closed the door one day.)
Is it going to fall off? (This refers to the caterpillar
when hanging during the formation of its chrysalis.)
What's that white thing? (referring to the silk-like
thread that is sometimes on its feet)
What if it falls into the water?
I wonder where its mom is?
Is that the daddy?
Why is it wiggling like that? (when the caterpillar
is turning into a chrysalis)
Is that the pee? (drips from the butterfly as
it dries out its wings before taking its first flight)
Why do we have to let it go? (referring to
the butterfly after it emerged from the chrysalis)
Can't we keep it in our room?
Is it sleeping?
Why isn't it moving?
Questioning is a skill that students naturally display, if given
the opportunity. Their potential and contribution to society is
infinite as long as they continue to freely ask questions and conduct
scientific inquiry procedures to discover their answers.
Using the students
Caterpillar Logs, we determined the date that the caterpillar
turned into a chrysalis. That date was recorded as 'Day 1' on
the time sheet. The date for each day after that was recorded
and the chrysalis was drawn. The day that the butterfly came out
was the last day to be recorded. The number of days was noted,
and this became the results of our RIP-based scientific inquiry.
In the fifth lesson,
through Socratic questioning again, they began the Discussion
and Conclusion of the RIP. The students were able to come up with
"The book said it will take 14 days for the butterfly to
come out from the chrysalis. Our
butterfly took 12 days."
12: Butterfly begins to emerge
Day 12: Butterfly
out of chrysalis
Day 12: Butterfly
is out of chrysalis
this is the first RIP for these students, the Discussion and Conclusion
part of the RIP was more teacher-directed rather than student
initiated. Again, Socratic questioning was used. I had them work
in their teams of 4 and 5 while answering my Socratic questioning.
This worked out better, since they could talk out their ideas
with each other:
do you notice about how long the book said it would take and
how many days are butterfly took to come out of the chrysalis?
did the book say it would take?
long did our butterfly take?
was the number of days different?
the book is not wrong?
20 minutes of having the students ponder these questions, one
girl's eyes lit up and she exclaimed, "I know! Every butterfly
takes a different time!" I worked with her on this idea,
and we came up with "Every butterfly takes a different number
of days to come out."
thrill it was to witness the gleam in her eye and the joy in her
self-expression as she made this discovery on her own!
this was the students' first experience with scientific inquiry
and the RIP, I guided them through the Next Step. We are now keeping
track of other chrysalises to see what their number of days of
transformation from chrysalis to butterfly will be.
Education Standards Addressed
SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS
CONTENT STANDARD A:
As a result of activities in grades K-4,
all students should develop
Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry
Understanding about scientific inquiry
CONTENT STANDARD C:
As a result of activities in grades
K - 4, all students should develop
The characteristics of organisms
Life cycles of organisms
Organisms and environments
& PERFORMANCE STANDARDS
Use the senses
to make observations
The student: Uses the five senses
(i.e., sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste) to make observations
about objects and events.
about the world around them
The student: Asks questions about
objects, organisms, events, places, or relationships in the
Student drawn and labeled
butterfly life cycle
and organize data using simple tools, equipment, and techniques
The student: Uses simple tools safely
(e.g., magnifying glass, balance scales) to make observations
about common objects in the classroom and uses simple techniques
to record and organize data for analysis.
viewing a caterpillar
based on observations
The student: Makes predictions based
on observations about the world around him or her.
Explain how plants
and animals go through life cycles
Performance Assessment (SPA)
The student: Illustrates the stages
of the life cycles (e.g., germination/birth, growth, reproduction,
and death) of various plants and animals, pointing out some
details that distinguish each stage.
Pose a question
and develop a hypothesis based on observations
The student: Brainstorms different
types of questions and develops a question and hypothesis
based on observations.
Language Arts Education Standards
& PERFORMANCE STANDARDS
Uses words to
describe location, size, color, shape, and concepts (e.g.,
same, different, fast, slow) in speaking situations.
The student: Uses words to describe
location, size, color, shape, and concepts (e.g., same, different,
fast, slow) in speaking situations.
Range of Writing
topics and convey thoughts, ideas, and basic information using
pictures and phonetically spelled words
The student: Writes phonetically
spelled words to describe familiar people, objects, books,
events, or instructions.
Spelling and Hand
Use phonetic spelling
to write new words
The student: Spells phonetically,
associating letters with sounds (e.g., kitn [kitten], wacht
Add detail to
drawings and other products with simple descriptive words
Performance Assessment (SPA)
The student: Adds descriptive words
to simple pictures and pictures with text through ideas generated
in various ways.
Ask and respond
appropriately to basic questions
The student: Forms and poses questions
and responds to questions related to activities and topics.
TeacherObservations & Reflections
At this stage of their learning, Kindergartners are like sponges.
They absorb information and can apply what they learned to other
areas of their lives.
While reading to them during the first two days, it was fulfilling
to experience the students' reactions to the information they
were receiving about the transformation from egg to caterpillar
to chrysalis to butterfly.
It amazed me as to how much the students digested about the
butterfly merely from the books that were read (as shown in
the KWL chart: "What I Know" column).
I am being more okay with having the students ask "I
wonder..." questions that only true scientists can answer. In
the past, I viewed it to be my role and responsibility as the
teacher to provide the student with all the answers. I am okay
with not knowing the answer and researching with the students
ways to find the answers.
they were making their observations and recording these observations
into their Caterpillar Log, here are what I observed about the
this stage of their learning, not only are they sponges--absorbing,
storing, and applying new information. They view their world
and nature with such wondrous eyes. They are in awe when they
actually discover for themselves that the caterpillar that was
crawling around the previous day is then hanging in "j".
their eyes light up when the students see that the caterpillar
that was a "j" has turned into a chrysalis.
"Why did that happen? How did that happen?" My response
is always---"That is how nature works." As they gain
more experiences of the processes of nature, the students will
get a better understanding of the concept of nature and about
things that occur naturally.
When recording the color of the objects they saw, many
times, they preferred to be creative and select the color of
their choice. I reminded many of them that they needed to be
accurate and record the actual color that they see-that is the
job of the researcher or scientist. (For the purpose of
enhancing all areas of learning, I allowed them the time to
apply their imaginations and create scenes of butterflies, caterpillars,
and chrysalises using any color they desired.)
As the students make their observations, many more questions
come about. Children are naturally curious, and their curiosity
is aroused further when they look closely at the caterpillars
or the chrysalis with the magnifying glass. These are the windows
of opportunity where teachers can be of most service to student
I love to immediately jump into their journey of wonder
and assist them with deriving their own inference or prediction
or conclusion to their question at hand. I ask other students
if they can figure out why or how. I share with them another
piece of information that they can use to come to a conclusion
or make a prediction or an inference to their question. Or I
model how they can look up information in books or on the Internet.
of Language Arts & Science
this opportunity for the integration of Language Arts and Science.
The students are writing with a purpose. They are asking each
other questions and verbally sharing their ideas. Their writing
makes sense and has meaning and relevance to their lives. For
those who are able to use letter sounds, they are able to read
what they wrote a week later. Writing becomes fun. There is
a sense of accomplishment when they can refer back to their
writing in order to find the day the caterpillar popped out
or the day the caterpillar turned into a chrysalis.
Because the students worked in teams, small group discussions
occurred automatically. The learning becomes richer when the
bounce off ideas with each other. They realize that sharing
ideas is okay; they need not be so possessive of their ideas
(i.e., "I said that first" or "I thought of that
of "Raising the Bar" on Reading Skills
"bar" of expectations was raised," the readers
in my classroom pushed forward and read the "RIP Cycle"
and all the parts. As they use their reading strategies (i.e.,
sounding out, context clues, does it make sense, etc.) to figure
out the words and sentences, they model these skills for the
emerging readers in their class. Peer-teaching and peer-learning
add another dimension to the classroom learning culture.
Evaluation of Butterfly Life Cycle Inquiry Unit
Evaluation Questions in Unit Plan
The students asked "wondering" questions.
The students observed the life cycle of the butterfly.
The students recorded observations accurately and honestly.
The students discovered answers to two of their wondering
The students summarized and evaluated what they discovered:
We learned how many days it takes for the butterfly
to come out.
Every caterpillar eats lots of leaves.
The caterpillar always gets bigger and bigger.
We like the butterfly because it lets us hold him.
When we held the butterfly on our hands, it felt tickly.
We were lucky we got to watch the caterpillar everyday.
We were lucky when we felt the caterpillar walk on our
hands. It tickled.
We are happy because we have caterpillars.
Understanding of Scientific Inquiry and the RIP
RIP Cycle chart at the front of the classroom, I asked the students,
"What is this chart about? What do you remember from this?"
Here are the students' responses:
Observation--There are 5 chrysalises in our classroom.
Question--When will the butterfly come out?
Information--The book says that the butterfly comes out
of the chrysalis.
Information--The book says it takes 2 weeks for a chrysalis
to turn into a butterfly.
we wait for 14 days, then the butterfly will come out.
butterfly comed out of the chrysalis. It took 12 days to come
Step--We will watch are chrysalises and keep track of how
many days it takes for the butterfly to come out.
responses were not edited. I took dictation as they stated or
read the information from the RIP Cycle chart. The responses for
the scientific inquiry and the RIP were from individual students.
unit is the beginning of using the Research Investigation Process
(RIP). I am very confident that as we do more units involving
RIP, the students will be able to participate actively in creating
future RIP cycles to seek answers to other research questions.
is a system that can be applied to many areas in the student's
life, once the student becomes familiar with it. It is a fundamental
scientific inquiry process that may also be used to organize the
student's thought process in problem-solving and critical thinking
in any area of life. RIP is unlike the traditional lecture type
teaching, where the teacher does most of the work and the student
takes on a passive role. With RIP, the student takes an active
part in exploring, discovering, and analyzing the world around
him or her. Because the student is an active learner, the aha's
that the student experiences are meaningful and memorable. The
learning that takes place has more impact in the students' lives.
I look forward to incorporating more RIP cycles with my students.
Otake shared her
in Anaheim, CA, April 7, 2006.