Explain, Part One: Guiding Meaning Making
There are different ways you can involve students in these initial discussions. You could do whole-group discussion and notebooking. You could do the same format but work with students in small groups while the rest of the class is working on other material. As students become more familiar with this process, you can give them more freedom and ask them to hold these discussions in their own small groups while you float between the groups. You could then bring the class back together to reach a final consensus during which each group shares the explanations they arrived at. Students could likewise share their explanations on posters, and students could participate in a gallery walk where they examine each group’s ideas, offer feedback and observations on post-it notes, and then groups could revise their ideas after this non-verbal discussion.
While ultimately giving students more responsibility in developing their own understanding is ideal, in the beginning, you will likely need to keep a closer eye on the process. It will take time for students to develop a more scientific way of thinking, so your observations and questions can be key to students realizing dissonance between their explanations and their observations in activities and the real world.