Although open exploration is useful for students when they encounter new materials and phenomena, teachers need to intervene to focus and challenge the students, or the exploration might not lead to understanding. Premature intervention deprives students of the opportunity to confront problems and find solutions, but intervention that occurs too late risks student frustration. Teachers also must decide when to challenge students to make sense of their experiences: At these points, students should be asked to explain, clarify, and critically examine and assess their work.
ORCHESTRATE DISCOURSE AMONG STUDENTS ABOUT SCIENTIFIC IDEAS. An important stage of inquiry and of student science learning is the oral and written discourse that focuses the attention of students on how they know what they know and how their knowledge connects to larger ideas, other domains, and the world beyond the classroom. Teachers directly support and guide this discourse in two ways: They require students to record their work—teaching the necessary skills as appropriate—and they promote many different forms of communication (for example, spoken, written, pictorial, graphic, mathematical, and electronic).
Using a collaborative group structure, teachers encourage interdependency among group members, assisting students to work together in small groups so that all participate in sharing data and in developing group reports. Teachers also give groups opportunities to make presentations of their work and to engage with their classmates in explaining, clarifying, and justifying what they have learned. The teacher's role in these small and larger group interactions is to listen, encourage broad participation, and judge how to guide discussion—determining ideas to follow, ideas to question, information to provide, and connections to make. In the hands of a skilled teacher, such group work leads students to recognize the expertise that different members of the group bring to each endeavor and the greater value of evidence and argument over personality and style.
CHALLENGE STUDENTS TO ACCEPT AND SHARE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN LEARNING. Teachers make it clear that each student must take responsibility for his or her work. The teacher also creates opportunities for students to take responsibility for their own learning, individually and as members of groups.
Teachers do so by supporting student ideas and questions and by encouraging students to pursue them. Teachers give individual students active roles in the design and implementation of investigations, in the preparation and presentation of student work to their peers, and in student assessment of their own work.
RECOGNIZE AND RESPOND TO STUDENT DIVERSITY AND ENCOURAGE ALL STUDENTS TO PARTICIPATE FULLY IN SCIENCE LEARNING. In all aspects of science learning as envisioned by the Standards, skilled teachers recognize the diversity in their classes and organize the classroom so that all students have the opportunity to participate fully. Teachers monitor the participation of all students, carefully determining, for instance, if all