More Than One “Right” Answerby: Suzanna Loper and Josey Baker

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In this article, the authors present a sequence of activities from a curriculum about light for third and fourth graders that supports students in learning to disagree like scientists. This sequence of activities helps students discuss reasons for the discrepancies in their data, use the language of argumentation in classroom discourse, and get a more accurate picture of science as a way of understanding the world, rather than just a collection of right answers (Driver, Newton, and Osborne 2000).

  • Elementary
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Reviews (3)
  • on Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:22 AM

The author uses a debrief discussion as a “discourse routine” where students discuss their claims and evidence to support those claims in a group discussion. The teacher frames and restates in terms of claims and evidence (modeling language) and accepts all answers. Then, through discussing what variables may have contributed to different answers and retesting, students try to resolve disagreements. This articles does a great job identifying a specific practice that will be helpful in creating a community of scientists that will foster the important practice of engaging in argument from evidence as listed in the Practices for K-12 Science Classrooms. This is one of the three interwoven dimensions of “A Framework for K-12 Science Education” that will be the basis for the Next Generation Science Standards.

Wendy R  (Pocatello, ID)
Wendy R (Pocatello, ID)

  • on Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:27 PM

This article could help a teacher introduce & implement productive disagrement in science. It begins with modeling, showing studetns what it looks like. In the process of this modleing, students are introduced to the language they will need to be able to disagree productively. The article also instructs the teacher in how to resolve the disagreement. think the article is great for someone hoping to implement scientific argumentation in the classroom.

Kathy Renfrew  (Barnet, VT)
Kathy Renfrew (Barnet, VT)

  • on Wed May 18, 2011 10:24 PM

Having students understand the nuances of the nature of science and how and why scientists can disagree is an abstract concept for elementary aged students. I thought this article did a nice job of providing support to help students explore disagreements in the classroom. The key piece to this is having students understand why different people might have arrived at different claims based on their evidence and what to do make an experiment consistent. This is a key piece that is often times left out of a classroom setting for lack of time, but including this piece will help students begin to disagree respectfully and learn how to use investigations and evidence to resolve disagreements.

Kate  (Louisville, CO)
Kate (Louisville, CO)

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