Another characteristic of an effective STEM classroom that I’m often looking for, but sometimes don’t see is inquiry.
To me, inquiry is the key to good STEM. It allows students to explore their scientific thinking and generate theories and other questions that they have. It also helps to increase engagement since students are following their own thinking.
So how can you promote inquiry in your classroom? Here are some tips:
Pose Real Questions– When is the last time you actually cared how many cupcakes Javier and Sylvia baked in that word problem? By posing real questions or struggles in your community, students will naturally become more interested because they can relate to it.
Let Kids Take the Lead– I know it’s difficult because sometimes we as adults can instantly see that a certain solution won’t work. That’s ok. Let the kids try it anyway. They will learn more from it than if you told them the answer. Plus, they will probably come up with other possible solutions while trying this one out anyway.
Help Find Resources– The internet is a vast sea of knowledge and the younger the student the more apt they are to get lost in it. Help students find the right resources that will propel their thinking forward.
Field the Focus– When students get excited, they tend to drift off into other solutions or concepts before vetting the one on hand. Help by focusing student attention and helping them to follow through before considering another solution.
Developing a true inquiry-based classroom takes time. Start small and work your way into it. Your students will thank you!