The model at the foot of this post began it’s development some 35 years ago, when I was responsible for the topic areas in a school, covering mainly science, history and geography. It was an attempt to pull together what can appear to be disparate strands within an investigative approach to learning, but still with the teacher controlling the development. In addition to the direct instruction approach to sharing information, this was an interactive approach, discerning what the children knew, how secure this was and to unpick any misconceptions.
The principle of experience, explore and explain can enable a dynamic model of teaching and learning to be developed, with the quality and the challenge of the experience being of paramount importance.
It is possible to develop a hierarchy of questions to tease out as much information as possible, which could cover children from EYFS through to year 6, with variation along the way. Collaborative problem solving with an involved adult can highlight areas where there is a need to make explicit links or to deepen through questioning. Enabling children to make and be responsible for their own decisions about resources and actions allows them to consider these more deeply that a pre-determined recipe of activity to be followed. They can learn to think scientifically and analytically. and yes, young children can do that!
· Tell me about… global
· What have you noticed about… specific
· What are you trying to find out? What’s the best way of finding out?
· Tell me/record what happened.
· What have you found out from what you have seen?
· What things are the same, what’s different?
· Is there a pattern in what you have seen?
· Is this what you were expecting?
· What ideas have you got/what do you already know about…?
· What do you think will happen…?
· How could you check/ test it/find out?
· How will you make sure that your test is fair?
· What will be the kept the same, what will vary?
· What will you try to measure and how will you organise yourself to do it?
· Is there a pattern in your measurements? How could you check their accuracy?
· What can you see happening? Is this what you were expecting?
· What do you think has caused it to happen?
· Can you summarise the key points from your exploration and what you have learned?
· What is the best way to make a record of what you have done?
· If you had to do this again, what would you do differently?
· From what you have learned, could you speculate about how your findings might be further developed?
· What do you think now; how has your thinking changed?