seen in the Chapter 3 vignettes in the journals Ms. Idoni has her students keep as they conduct their field work. By having her students organize their journals according to the inquiry abilities described in the Standards, Ms. Idoni provides them with a way of monitoring their own progress in achieving the standards. The conceptual organization of the journals also provides a framework that students can use in their final project at the end of the course.


Educators long have known that an effective teacher learns a great deal about what students know and do not know, and how they think about scientific ideas, simply by listening to them. A number of years ago, Rowe (1974) identified the very effective instructional strategy of “wait time,” where teachers’ silence allows students to pose and answer more thoughtful questions than they do when teachers quickly break a silence. She suggested thinking in terms of questions that individual students bring with them — for example, questions of values (e.g., “Who cares?”), ways of knowing (e.g., “What is the evidence?”), actions (e.g., “What must I do with what I know?”), and consequences (e.g., “Do I know what would happen?”). In writing about assessment, she noted that, “Learning to have conversations instead of inquisitions is a very powerful way of starting to get data into context” (Rowe, 1991, p. 91).

Gallas (1995) also emphasizes the value of listening to students; she reports gathering her elementary students for open-ended discussions around a particular topic or question

that she calls “Science Talks.” She allows her students to explore their own ideas, which may or may not be related to the experiences she has planned for them. “Children know when we are ‘taking over’ their agenda. They can sense when the ‘I wonder’ in their questions is absorbed into a teacher’s ‘let’s find out and show’ agenda” (Gallas, 1995, p. 71). She always asks students to draw, right after the talk, an idea or ideas that they felt answered the question best, which she uses to follow and document the progress of their learning.

Several important dimensions of the

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