Do You Correct?

As students were working on Concept Card Mapping from Page Keely’s book, Formative Assessment in Science, I asked a student why she made a placement with her card and how it relates to the other cards in her group. What happend next disturbed me. She immediately removed the card, thinking I was telling her she was wrong. I responded with a quick, “No! Put it back.” 

Why do kids assume when asked why, they are automatically wrong? I then began to reflect on my questioning. Do I contribute to this problem?

After talking to each group of students during the Concept Card Mapping formative activity, I noticed some misconceptions they had about food webs and energy transfer in science.

Instead of telling students where their thinking was wrong, I facilitated a fishbowl activity where four students sat in the middle of our class circle. The four discussed energy transfer in an ecosystem of their choice while the rest of us observed. The four of them disagreed on if water provides energy for plants and animals like the sun does. The outside observers then stated whether they agreed or disagreed with the statements. What happend from here was an amazing discussion that I facilitated without correcting the misconception that water provides energy. All but one had reasons they thought water provides energy. You might think they will always think this, but hearing their reasoning opened my eyes for what I needed to do next to address their misconception. Because I listened, I discovered the root of the idea. 

The next day I told them scientists measure energy in what we consume by calories. We looked at food labels to see how much energy was in a serving of various food and drinks. Then they made a T chart with items that contained no energy (0 Calories) and items with energy ( 1 or more Calories). They discovered many things like sugar comes from a plant and salt contains no energy but is a mineral nutrient. 

If I would have corrected the misconception right away, none of this learning would of happend. I would have not thought of bringing in the energy as calories piece. 

Do you correct every misconception right away? I know it is hard for me to not do this. Page Keely’s book is helping me get better. I want students to feel safe discussing their thinking instead of assuming they are wrong. How do you facilitate this?


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