Teaching Strategies – Using Investigations

Teaching Strategies - Using Investigation Teaching Strategies that Work - Using Investigations.

During one of my relief teaching gigs, I  was lucky enough to be using investigation teaching strategies with a group of 11 and 12 year old students for a couple of hours per day over a couple of weeks. I had been tasked with extending their learning. The ultimate goal was to improving their performance on NAPLAN tests.

The pretest that I used showed that their interpretation of data was a weakness.

There are few teachers who would hold NAPLAN in high regard - but it is a necessary systemic imperative.

This is a small one-page pretest that I used as a teaching tool.

It is designed from year 5 and 7 test items so it is applicable to upper primary classes.

The cause, I suspect is that they don't fully understand the how data is collected, interpreted and interrogated.

The best way to do that, I feel, is to use teaching strategies that challenge their higher order thinking with an investigation.

I revitalized my Table Tennis Drop investigation and incorporate the use of a spreadsheet (in this case MS Excel) to collate and interpret data.

Teaching Strategies using Investigations

In the activity, I use teaching strategies to investigate the relationship between drop height and bounce height.

Step 1 

  • Using cardboard strips, students construct their own 1m ruler or measure.
  • I bought a couple of sewing tape measures just in case.
Step 2
  • Students prepare a data table like the following in 5cm intervals up to 100cm.

Drop Height
Bounce Height

Step 3.
  • Students work in groups of 3 - 4. 
  • One holds the ruler, one drops the tennis ball from the height, two watch the bounce height. You really need two eyes for accuracy purposes. When there is difference, moderate the results. When using this during relief teaching gigs, I demonstrate the process and the averaging process. 
  • Everyone records the data. Ownership is one of those important teaching strategies that keep kids focused. If you are using investigations when relief teaching make it clear to all the kids that they must all keep data records. Even when using groups, it is important that kids have individual responsibility.

Step 4.
Chart the data like below. (obviously results will vary)

Step 5.
Discuss the formula 

Drop Height = Bounce Height X ?

Teaching Strategies - The Lesson

STEP 1 - is to collect the data.

Teaching Strategies using Table Tennis Balls

In this investigation we used teaching strategies to explore the relationship between the drop height and the bounce height of a table tennis ball.

So for 30 - 45 minutes the teaching strategies used had kids bouncing tennis balls, measuring bounce heights and recording data in their books (like above)

Learning is much more powerful when teaching strategies are used that give kids the chance to talk about it.

Even the kids who might play up in a passive learning situation, seldom do when learning is more active.

Sure, there is noise as kids work together.

It takes experience to differentiate between productive and unproductive noise.

Teaching Strategies using Investigations

STEP 2 - Once the data is collected, students must look at the data. Discuss the formula Drop Height = Bounce Height x ? By what number ca we multiply bounce height to find the drop height?

This is the hardest of all the teaching strategies used in this activity. It can be easier to find the answer to x = Drop Height/Bounce Height. This of course, will generate different values based on the accuracy of the data.


But that is what makes investigations one of the most unpredictable of all teaching strategies - and the most FUN.

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