As we pilot new laboratory activities in the classroom, my students and I are in constant dialogue. Not only do they leave feedback at the end of each lesson (what did you learn, what was your favorite part, what was you least favorite part), but we talk throughout the experiment. Recently our discussion was focused on the questions. As these are guided inquiry activities, they are designed to gently lead students. However, some of my students think some of the questions are very repetitive. As we were talking about the questions together, one student had excellent insight, “I can see how these questions might seem too repetitive for you, but for me, they are teaching me what I need to learn.” This student recognized that in order for her to come to a certain realization she would need to walk through each question step by step.
This is a challenge as an author. How do we design the questions in such a way that there is enough scaffolding for the students that need it, but not so much that others get bogged down in it? By now some of my students have realized that sometimes they will think the questions are too repetitive and are willing to breeze through them instead of getting frustrated. Meanwhile, the rest of the class works through them and then has a light bulb moment. Watching their eyes glow when they make connections is a beautiful sight to behold. What about you? Do you have similar experiences in your classroom?