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General Teacher Tips for Challenge Questions

We asked several veteran teachers to share their insights and techniques for using Challenge Questions. Here are some of their helpful comments:


Organizing
  • "I break up my class into groups according to the migration they want to study. The groups are usually 6-8 kids. The smaller groups work better."

  • "My classes are all divided into 5 groups, each responsible for one species/activity".

Using Notebooks
  • "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."

Printing Out Hardcopies
  • "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."

  • "I print out full reports for each group of students. They read the
    reports and highlight the challenge questions. They decide which question they are interested in pursuing."

Students Helping Students
  • "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."

Suggestions for First Time Journey North Users:

  • "Start small - you have to devote a lot of time to it if you want to give
    your students opportunities to answer challenge questions."


  • "Management Pointer: Don't do more than 1 or 2 species each year. Ease
    into it. They must start slow!"


  • "I would suggest to new teachers to definitely set up the binders. It helps the kids stay organized. The first year I would only do two migrations at most. And finally, the teacher must read all the updates as well. There is so much information available now to read so you have to pick and choose what works best. "
  • "I make it mandatory that students do Challenge Questions, at least one. They turn them in to me, and I read through and see that it is well written and logical, and I grade them. Then I send in the student answers to Journey North."

Why Journaling Questions Are Important to Teachers:
  • "I think journaling 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."

  • "Journaling Questions also helped my students coming up with their own good questions for ask the expert. They didn't think they could do it, but it is amazing what good questions they do come up with. I think they model that after the Journaling questions."

(Contributed by Teachers: Anna Sexton, Susan Eckstein, Nancy Bonner and Emily Ference)

 

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