Reflection: Discourse and Questioning All New-Tons Of Fun Lab Stations: Day 2 - Section 3: Discussion Protocol #1 and Modeling: A Momentous Propulsion


I've heard so often recently about how students need "21st century skills". Talks about the 4 C's - collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking - seem to be the focus of much professional development. Collaboration and communication are such important skills for students to master. However, developmentally, a seventh grader just doesn't have experience and strategies to navigate scientific discussions effectively. They need strategies, practice, and modeling of what discussions should look like.

Discussion protocols provide students with a scaffold that can set them up for success. The protocols for discussion in this lesson focus on some common important aspects of effective discussion:

  1. Wait time
  2. Sharing ideas
  3. Summarizing
  4. Citing text
  5. Relating to the real world

All of these aspects take practice.  With a protocol in place that asks each student to take a different role, it gives students the framework within which to take risks. Students that haven't spoken up and talked in group discussions are given the opportunity to jump in. 

You know those students that have great ideas, but aren't going to talk over the "dominant vocal leader" of the group? They have an avenue to enter the conversation because everyone knows a different student must complete each step of the protocol.  

Do you have students in your class that have great ideas but it takes them a little longer to process than others? Scheduled wait time gives them that opportunity.  

Have you ever seen a student "tune out" during a group discussion and not listen to what is being said? The fact that they have to summarize others responses keeps them an added purpose for listening.

Moreover, for those students that struggle with effective discussion, repeating the same protocol can help them identify patterns of discourse. The more they follow the protocol, the more the mystery of what to say during a science discussion becomes "visible" to them. After implementing these series of labs with the use of these protocols, students can independently run an effective discussion without a protocol in place. They know and have practiced elements that can help the conversation flow smoothly. 

  Discussion Protocols: They work!
  Discourse and Questioning: Discussion Protocols: They work!
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All New-Tons Of Fun Lab Stations: Day 2

Unit 8: Forces and Motion: All New-Tons of Fun!
Lesson 2 of 6

Objective: Students will be able to observe a propulsion demonstration to determine which of Newton's Laws it represents.

Big Idea: Want to get your students excited about literacy? This lesson provides an exciting context to work on scientific reading, writing, speaking, and designing. Students complete fun labs and discussions with "launching" tennis balls and ruler flip races!

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