The research is powerful. Ownership of students can be created in the classroom. You can validate the passions and interests of our students. However, creating a research culture requires constant work. Teachers have to establish from day one in the classroom, and work to keep it vital throughout the year. Here are some important things you should know about creating that culture, and some ideas you can consider.
Culture vs. Weather
We have to be honest at the forefront. A research culture is not going to happen overnight, but the right climate for it is much easier to establish. When we make a change or set an expectation of how a classroom will work, we begin to affect the climate. It takes time for something to become a part of the culture. All the work that teachers put into creating a research classroom should be reviewed again and again. Teachers must commit to this change and continue to reinforce practices and strategies that create a culture of research. In addition, while climate can ultimately reflect an established culture, in its early stages, climate is simply a possible indicator of the culture we hope to create. Therefore, students will need ongoing evidence and action to demonstrate that a research culture truly exists.
If students do not feel welcome in their classroom, they will not ask questions or participate in learning. Teachers have to make sure that students feel valued in their classroom. Activities can be created so that students share their passions and interests. Students should be welcomed at the door each time they enter the classroom. It is an ideal position to co-create rules and procedures to help students feel safe and supportive. There are many strategies to make students feel welcome.
You may also like to read another article on LananClub: Class vs Teaching Online: Do you need different teaching methods?
Scaffolding and Value of Questioning
Many students need support to ask questions and create different types of questions for different situations. Teachers should use a variety of strategies, such as structured interrogation protocols, to support students in asking effective questions. In addition, you have to find a way to assess all the issues that enter the classroom. If a student brings a big question, try to use it as a basis for a class discussion or setting up a research team to investigate. Another strategy could be to create a “parking lot” or a permanent list of questions that could be investigated at a later time.
A great tool for building a research culture is essential questions that drive learning. Wiggins and McTighe articulate this effect in their books the essential questions: Opening doors to the student’s understanding. My favorite phrase here is “doors that open.” Too often, the questions we design could actually close doors for students to create questions that will open the doors that invite them to learn. These types of questions are provocative, open-ended, and aligned with content, but also leaving room for exploration. Ideally, there should not be a single correct answer. In addition, the response that students give will require to justify their thinking. They can not find the best answer right away as they continue to review the issue throughout the unit or even the year. Instead of focusing on the answer, they should focus on the research process that begins when the question is asked. These questions can be tools created by teachers as well as co-constructed with students.