How can you help students make meaning during exploration? Questioning!
In an NGSS classroom, the goal is for students to discover the content though exploration. (If you’re not sure what that means, check out these oldies — Adopting NGSS Instructional Strategies, Tangible Explore Experiences For The NGSS, and Creating Ah Ha Moments With The 5E Model). But not all explorations are built made equal. There is a John Dewey quote I just love — “We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”
When The Meaning Is Lost…
All too often, we engage our students in amazing activities and explorations. Students complete the work, they have fun, they seem to be learning… but when it comes down to it, they don’t walk away with any better understanding than when they started.
On the other hand, sometimes we present our students with an exploration, and they don’t even know where to begin. They don’t know what to do with the information provided. They struggle. They get frustrated. Sometimes it ends in behavior issues, sometimes it ends in quitting. Either way, no one learns anything here either.
In both examples, the problem is not necessarily in the experience. The exploration may not be the issue.