Strategies for Discovery Learning

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I agree in theory that the objective method, what we now call discovery learning, is the most effective way for children to acquire the skills and concepts necessary to become scientifically literate adults. However, in many classrooms teachers are still struggling to build a discovery-based science curriculum. There is an urgency today that makes acquiring science skills even more important now than they were before. In this hi-tech age, knowing how to acquire and evaluate information and how to use it to understand and solve problems is a requirement for most jobs our students will have as adults. Cooperative learning is an important strategy used to promote discovery learning. Cooperative learning has three distinct goals: academic achievement, acceptance of diversity through interdependent work, and development of cooperative social skills. There are numerous approaches to cooperative learning and each proceeds in somewhat different ways. However, in general, a cooperative learning lesson has six phases. The teacher begins the lesson by presenting the goals of the lesson, motivating students, and connecting the approaching lesson to previous learning. Procedures, timelines, roles and rewards are described. Required group processes or social skills may also be taught at the beginning of a cooperative learning lesson. In phase 2 the teacher initiates the acquisition of the academic content that is the focus of the lesson. This may be done verbally, graphically, or with text. The teacher during phase 3 explains how the teams are formed and helps students make transitions into their groups. Phase 4 is teamwork. Students work together on cooperative tasks and the teacher assists students and groups, while reminding them of their interdependence. The final phases of a cooperative learning lesson consists of phase 5 (assessment) and phase 6 (recognition). The teacher tests student knowledge or groups present their work. Individual students and groups are assessed on...
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