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When students must construct the meaning in a graph or image for themselves, they get the experience of grappling with raw data and building an understanding of the relationships within that data.
The sources in our disciplines (books, journals, even class texts) consist mostly of our fellow scholars providing evidence in support of conclusions they have drawn. This exercise consists of providing your students with evidence alone, and asking them to draw their own conclusions from it. This can be an individual assignment or an in-class discussion activity, which case it would work well in the context of a Think-Pair-Share.
(In this case, the blue line represents temperature, the red line represents salinity, and the black axis represents depth. This graph illustrates an oceanographic phenomenon called a thermocline.)
From: Williams, R. and Reimers, C. (2005, October). Data drives inquiry: Strategies for problematizing the materials of our disciplines. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Professional and Organizational Development Network, Milwaukee, WI.
We all want students to carry our teachings into their lives. Often, however, we must make our intentions very plain for students to understand that an assignment will equip them with skills and empower them, and is not an arbitrary hoop through which they must jump.
For this reason, frame each activity using these four steps:
Among the most useful things we as teachers can do during class discussion is shut our mouths. In an oft-cited meta-analysis of wait-time research, Tobin (1987) described findings of greater engagement and achievement when teachers waited at least three to five seconds after asking a discussion question before speaking again. Above this threshold, higher level thinking was observed and student academic performance improved. However, teachers behaving "normally" only tend to wait about one second. Students need a few moments to digest what they have recently heard, formulate their responses, and work up the courage to speak. Slow down, and more of your students will keep up with you.
Reference: Tobin, K. (1987). The role of wait time in higher cognitive level learning. Review of Educational Research, 57, 1: 69-95.