When students enter your classroom, they should already have the initial knowledge necessary to take on challenges. One major way to prompt application of this knowledge is through class discussions. Teachers can initiate and even control the flow of discussion, but it is more valuable whe students start their own discussion in class. Let's look at some examples:

Example 1: The Gas Giants


Watch the video below



Class Assignment:

Students will be prompted to answer the following questions in small groups:

  • Why do you think these planets are called "Gas Giants"?
  • Why do you think most of these planets have storms on them?
  • With our knowledge of solids liquids and gasses, why do you think the planets made of solids are smaller than the gas giants?
  • Why do you think Neptune is so cold?

Note how these questions focus on WHY. They aren't asking Who, What or Where, but rather would focus on things such as How or Why. How or Why prompt the student to think more about the concepts. Once finished answering the questions, students can share their answers with other groups to see how they compare. From here, the teacher can build all concepts onto the board and students can see their knowledge grow from simply knowing facts to familiarity with concepts.


Example 2: FOIL Method


Watch the video below and attempt to FOIL out (x-9)(5x+1) and (x-4)(4x+7)



Class Assignment:

Students will be prompted to answer the following questions in class, either alone or in small groups:

  • What steps were taken to FOIL out the numbers? Describe the process.
  • Try FOILing out (9+1)(7+4), and then multiply (10)(11). Were your answers the same?
  • Take a guess and try to apply what we know about FOILing to (x2+3x-1)(x+4)

Note how the last question allows the student to take a risk in the classroom, where the teacher can walk around and help guide students in the right direction. In a traditional learning environment, students might try to solve the problem, but after time passes between the student attempting the work and coming in the next day, it is easier to forget if the approach was incorrect. Instead, students can receive feedback almost immediately from the teacher.

After, in class, the class can describe the process for their notes.