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Productive Struggle

As a teacher and a mother I am in the continual pursuit of the happy place where I provide a challenge that doesn’t result in temper tantrums. Thankfully, my students don’t actually throw toddler-style tantrums, but at least with young children you know when they are struggling. As a secondary teacher, I had my share of students who were suffering in silence. It would make me very upset to grade lab report #217 just to discover that this student was completely and utterly lost. They never asked for help! They just sat there struggling in silence, trying their best, and stuck in their utter confusion.

I absolutely loved when Inq-ITS added Alerts. The ability to see that a silent student was struggling and needed assistance was absolutely amazing. Then, this Spring they’ve added TIPS for teachers so when your classroom is as busy as usual, you have the exact text you need to say to students to help them get back on track.

Secondly, I’d like to share a trick that made a huge difference in how well my students did on Inq-ITS labs and other investigations. As the Question of the Day, I would put the Goal up on the board and have students draw the Goal out in Pictures. I’ll give you an example below.

Put this on the board:

Students draw this:

When I provided this level of scaffolding, my students were able to fine tune their mental models and overcome their misconceptions.


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