Dean et al (2012) and Pilter and Stone (2012) both discuss Generating and Testing Hypotheses in their ninth chapter. This strategy is a great way to help students deepen their knowledge and apply what they learn to novel situations, much like they would when encountering problems in the real world. These authors note that there are two ways in which this strategy aids in student understanding: by giving them a chance to reason deductively and by helping them apply general rules to new stations. Dean et al (2012) give examples of four different strategies: systems analysis, problem solving, experimental inquiry (what we most commonly associate with “testing hypotheses”), and investigation. They also note that it is important to explain the reasoning and logic behind hypotheses and conclusions.
Again, I find myself admitting that I have never formally added a component of creating and testing hypotheses to my lesson plan. I do enjoy letting students take what they know and predict what is to come, such as giving them the additional question of “what happens if…” to reflect on at the end of learning something new. Unfortunately, I would never follow up on these reflection questions, potentially leading students to come up with misinformation. According to Dean et al, “teachers must…debrief inductive learning experiences with students” (2012, p. 137). There is a specific rubric for monitoring for misconceptions in Pitler and Stone (2012), in which I would give myself a 2 – Basic for occasionally monitoring and correcting misconceptions, but for the other pieces of the rubric, I would be at a 1 for the fact that I didn’t believe primary students could elevate their thinking to the point they could generate hypotheses that wouldn’t guide them far off-topic.
The texts gave only one example of using generating and testing hypotheses in a primary classroom – skip-counting in a 2nd grade class in the Dean et al (2012) text. The example was students coming up with a pattern in skip-counting by 9s, which they then had to then be able to explain. This is a simple, but effective way to get students thinking about the patters that appear in skip-counting, and later in multiplication. My discussion-mates for this course also provided other great examples – making predictions in reading a text, estimating lengths in math, and exploring science materials before lessons in order to let natural curiosity lead to new avenues of inquiry (credit to Edith M, Kelsey N, and Laura B respectively). I would like to try all of these strategies in my first grade classroom this upcoming school year.
Dean, C. B., Hubbell, E. R., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Pitler, H. & Stone, B. (2012). A handbook for classroom instruction that works: 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.