Teacher Tap


The process of assimilation involves reinforcing and confirming information that is known, altering thinking based on new information, or rejecting information that doesn’t match the student‘s belief system. In an inquiry, assimilation leads to consideration of new options and points of view. (Callison, 2006, p. 7)

"After reading about dinosaurs, we came outside with a measuring tape and chalk to draw them. We used our bodies for comparison. Wow! They were huge!"

As you explore, look for unique aspects of at least 3 pieces of evidence and make comparisons.

Examine images that represent the different phases of mitosis. How are these images alike and different? What are the key elements that reflect each phase?

Help students build arguments. The Trash or Treasure approach is effective in helping young people collect evidence and build arguments.

"I'm looking for information about conifers that will grown best in our area. I'll trash information that doesn't fit my need."

The Ds of Evidence

deathStudents need to keep their central question in mind as they work with evidence. For instance, they might ask "what should be done with "road kill"? They will use the visuals collected from sites such as the Wild Images Gallery: The Cycle of Life after Death from Banff National Park in Canada to analyze the question and possible solutions (see a sample image from the series on the right).

Apply the Ds of Evidence to this problem:

The Ds of Evidence can be applied to any question or problem such as "how harmful is smoking to human health?"

Select an image that represents the main idea of an investigation. Apply the Ds of Evidence to this image.

Build Associations

Although assimilation occurs deep within our brain, we can use visual activities to build these associations. Marzano, Pickering and Pollock (1997) identified six graphic organizers that correspond to six common information organization patterns:

These patterns can be applied to syrup production.

Syrup production

Facilitate Inquiry

Use guiding questions to facilitate inquiry:

  1. What evidence have I collected?
  2. What are the patterns, relationships, connections, sequences, or causes/effects?
  3. How do I handle ambiguity?
  4. How does this new evidence match my prior knowledge?
  5. How does this relate to...?
  6. What ideas have we learned that I can apply in this situation?
  7. Can I give examples and non-examples?
  8. How and why is this happening
  9. What inferences and be drawn?
  10. What additional information is needed?
  11. How can this data be synthesized?
  12. How do I know what formula or concept is most useful in applying to this situation?

Assimilating and Technology

Use technology to scaffold thinking.

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Select an infographic such as Trashonomics and The Most Dangerous Species in the Mediterranean. Or ask students to evaluate the quality of an online research project that represents the main idea of an investigation. Apply the Ds of Evidence to this image. What do you think about the quality of the evidence? Is it good or bad? Do you need additional information?

Check out calculators to help you explore data related to trash such as the Ecoconsumer calculator, Conversionator, Trash Cost Calculator.

For a more in-depth exploration, read the graphic book Graphic Inquiry by Annette Lamb and Danny Callison available from Libraries Unlimited, 2011.

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