After reading the Incorrect Ideas SCIENCE Corner about the benefits of using misconceptions as a tool for sense making, I decided to try it in my classroom. I often struggle with finding good strategies for framing deep classroom discussions, and I was hungry to try something new.
Several times a week, I post two to three incorrect ideas. The statements I use come from classroom discussions, formative assessments, and even from our textbook. I give students a chance to discuss the statement in small groups, and then we move to a large group discussion.
During this class discussion, I ask multiple students to share why they think the statement is incorrect and how they would change it to be correct. The variety of viewpoints gives the class a chance to hear the correct idea explained several times in different ways. I also find that using misconceptions as the foundation for the activity gives students the freedom to share their own incorrect thinking, which ultimately leads to a more rigorous discussion and a deeper understanding.
To start the discussion, I choose sticks with student names. This encourages students to speak who don’t always chime in on their own. My students know they can always pass, but we’ve established a culture of acceptance and encouragement, so I find that most of the time students will share their ideas.
After the group has discussed a variety of ideas, I write a compiled correct statement. We then discuss the concept again to be sure we share a collective understanding. I teach four science classes, so by the end of the day I have several correct ideas written down. Then I draft a single statement that gets to the heart of the matter and post it with the incorrect statement in one section of my room, so students can continue to use it as a resource.
- Encourage productive science discourse
- Provide a forum for interactively exploring and reviewing big ideas
- Increase student participation and engage even reluctant students
To download resources related to Earth’s Orbit, visit the Teacher Resources page.