Before we explore this scenario further, let’s dig into a move we call “Encouraging Evidence.” Sure, inquiry classrooms are bursting with student questions, but that doesn’t mean that answers are off the table. Building a strong knowledge-base of information is important, too. When we encourage evidence, we ask students to be aware and careful consumers of information. We don’t always need to do this for them. They have access to information! So, in an inquiry classroom, instead of immediately correcting or judging, we can ask the students to reflect on their information, using questions like:
“How do you know that?”
“Where did you find that information?”
“How do you know that information is accurate?”
There are dozens of possible responses to this scenario. What is certain is that a major misconception about the solar system needs to be addressed. The default reaction would be to immediately stop the action and tell students that the sun is actually the center of the solar system, not the Earth. This is certainly an efficient way to correct the misconception; but is it the most effective way?
An immediate teacher correction does work in some cases, but let’s think about what cognitive scientists at Neuroleadership Institute have say about integrating and retaining new concepts and information as applied to this situation: Attention (Are students really able to hear you in this moment, not just physically but intellectually?); Generation (Do students have the opportunity to create something new given your correction? Will a new simulation in the same context help solidify this concept, or inadvertently concretize incorrect theories?); Emotions (Are students feeling something positive? Or, are they feeling like they just failed at something? How will these feelings impact learning?); and Spacing (Do students have ample time to fully absorb their misconception? Do they need some time to reflect and think a bit more?)