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Using Challenge Questions/Grade 4/Nanuet, NY

Anna Sexton
Highview Elementary School,
Nanuet, NY

Do you think Challenge Questions are central to Journey North? To your classroom?
"I think challenge questions are important to guide the kids along and to make them really look at and analyze the data. It forces them to think at a higher level, and they are SO excited when their answers were posted because it validated their work, Made the project really significant and real to them and - they got it right!"

How do you facilitate Challenge Questions(CQs) in your classroom?
"I break up my class into groups according to the migration they want to study. The groups are usually 6-8 kids. Since I cannot be with every group all the time, I ask them to do the challenge questions together and record them in their science notebooks. This way I can look at the notebooks to see where they are and what they are learning.

"Since I cannot be with every group all the time, I ask them to do the challenge questions together and record them in their science notebooks. This way I can look at the notebooks to see where they are and what they are learning. I print out full reports for each group and we keep them in a binder. This way they have the questions and text to look at without tieing up a computer. I highlight the questions because they can be easy to miss."

Some questions are harder than others. How do you deal with this?
"I see that some questions are harder than others. I ask the kids to work together so the higher level kids can help the lower ones. I ask them to do the best they can, and ask for help if it is too hard. Most times we can figure it out. There have been some questions requiring a lot of math, or a long process of data analysis that is too hard for 4th grade. Since there are so many great questions, I don't feel bad if occasionally they skip one or two."

Do you sometimes make use of the CQs with your class, but not always send us your answers? In what circumstances do you do this? and Why?
"We try to do all the questions. I tell the kids I would send in any of their answers (they cannot e-mail). It also helped when they saw others get "published", because then they could see they had a real chance at it."


If you have tips you'd like to share, please write to Journey North: jnorth@learner.org

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