for the Journey North Teacher
a Climate for Inquiry
an inquiry-oriented classroom, the teacher is a co-explorer and guide
who cultivates curiosity and challenges students to think and act
like scientists as they explore intriguing questions. It is a place
where diverse ideas are valued and students feel safe taking risks
to "think out loud" as they share, debate, and justify emerging ideas.
Students have time and opportunities to explore, experiment, test
and refine ideas as they collaboratively build understanding. But
it takes time, practice, and sometimes, a shift in teaching strategies,
to create a classroom where inquiry can flourish.
the following strategies.
Shifting Control: Students as Decision
When students are able to influence the direction of their learning
and their opinions and ideas are valued, motivation, reasoning skills,
and confidence flourish. Some activities in Journey North prescribe
questions, procedures, and data for students to interpret; others
challenge students to ask their own questions and design investigations
to try to answer them. This reflects the continuum of classroom-based
inquiry. Most Journey North classroom science explorations fall somewhere
gradually shifting to a more student-directed approach, you can
develop comfort transferring decision making to students and they
can see the inquiry process modeled and build their skills. Here
are some examples of how this might work through the year in a Journey
students increasing responsibility for deciding how to approach
students increasing responsibility for deciding how to gather,
organize, and make sense make sense of migration data.
students follow the set protocol for the tulip study, invite small
groups to design and conduct their own tulip experiments.
students grapple with ideas and data, routinely ask yourself,
Is it more productive at this point to let students struggle
with this piece of the puzzle or to introduce a new piece of information
(e.g., a scientist's explanation) or change the direction of the
a Culture of Collaboration
Mirror what scientists do by nurturing a classroom of co-explorers
and learners (yourself included) who, in the search for understanding,
pursue questions, wrestle with data, respect diverse ideas, and
exchange theories. Here are some tips for cultivating collaborators.
practical, have students work in small groups to gather, track,
and make sense of migration data or to investigate questions and
cooperative groups in setting goals and expectations for their
collaborative process and outcomes.
opportunities for groups to routinely share, review, question,
and comment on one another's data, explanations, or investigation
designs. Require all group members to participate.
that you don't know all the answers, When you do so, you empower
students to work together to tackle challenges.
The Spirit of Science Inquiry
Help students grasp what makes scientists tick by modeling the spirit
of curiosity, questioning, self-reflection, flexibility, openness
to new ideas and theories, and respect for evidence, that characterize
science inquiry. Recognize and offer praise when you notice students
exhibiting these scientific values.
To ignite discussions, show respect for students' thinking, and support
active reasoning, try to ask questions that encourage observation
and reflection and that help them explore, explain, support, and evaluate
ideas. Minimize factual questions that have just one right answer
or those that require yes or no response. When you accept students'
responses as valid, and probe for clarification, elaboration, and
evidence, you send the message that it's okay to take risks and that
"rough-draft" thinking is vital to the science process. See Open-Ended
Questions That Inspire Scientific Thinking.
Like scientists, kids need time to try ideas, make mistakes, and ponder
and discuss data. When practical, try to leave "wiggle room" and be
willing to diverge from your plans and schedule to enable students
to pursue intriguing questions when they are tracking migrations or
exploring local phenomena.