for the Journey North Teacher
ideas, data, "ahas," and possible explanations is vital to inquiry-based
learning and it reflects the way scientists work. Full- and
small-group discussions build community and allow students to
explore ideas, clarify their thinking, consider different theories,
challenge one another's views, and defend their assertions.
As they do so, they begin to build coherent, shared understandings
about data and concepts.
Questions That Inspire Scientific Thinking
Strategies for Facilitating Discussions
ignite classroom discussions and support active thinking and reasoning,
use these strategies:
open-ended questions that encourage observation, reflection,
evaluation, and new questions.
factual questions that have just one right answer or
those that require yes or no response.
for a minimum of 3 seconds after you ask a question
or after a student responds to a question. (Research has
shown that this "wait time" improves the quantity and quality
of student responses and increases participation by slow
student responses and arguments at face value even if
they are incorrect. Follow up by probing for elaboration,
clarification, and evidence to support their statements.
Have students respond to and challenge one another's ideas.
If appropriate, encourage your young scientists to further
observe, review data, or research to test their ideas. At
times, you will want to correct students' misconceptions
by sharing current scientific thinking.
students to question one another (following your modeling)
by asking probing, open-ended questions. Eventually, enable
small groups to have discussions without your input. (Researchers
have found that this to be an ideal situation for building