Traditional-style classrooms today still do not emphasize the importance of metacognition as an important trait to develop. Students are taught and expected to be able to perform “x” task or be able to recite “y”, but these types of classrooms fail to inspire students to develop as better learners in the long run. Research on the education field have shown that the growth of a student is positively affected by actively challenging their ability to critically think through inquiry-based projects and open-ended activities.
One way to nurture an environment that allows for “open-endedness” and scientific inquiry requires us, the (future) teachers, to encourage MAKING THINKING VISIBLE (MTV). These methods invite the student to develop, display, and verbalize their thought processes. Similar to practicing free-throws on the basketball court in order to improve your accuracy, we must allow our students to practice thinking about how they approach critical thinking in order to nurture their growth as lifelong-students.
3 MTV Strategies That Will Promote Inquiry in a Science Classroom:
1. ) Connect-Extend-Challenge
This strategy encourages students to access their background knowledge in order to help them better understand and expand upon the information that will be presented to them. Being able to identify challenges to the learning process also helps you identify your own limits and work towards improving on your weaknesses as a student.
2. ) The Micro Lab Protocol
Students often feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information traditional classrooms try to bank into their minds or feel too anxious to participate in assessing their knowledge in front of the whole class. The micro lab protocol allows students to have meaningful discussions and display what they know in a smaller group while allowing them time to digest the information on their own. This strategy is also an efficient way to allow for equal participation of every student and allow for every student to develop their own voice in discussions
3. ) The Explanation Game
The explanation game is a great way for your students to practice assessing qualitative data in order to explain a scenario or object similar to how scientists observe and explain unknown phenomena. Students are encouraged to look at a situation in parts and build up a strong, well-explained argument on what is happening based on the relationship between those parts.