An alternative to IRF is inquiry based discussions. Students are introduced to a concept and discuss prior knowledge before instruction begins. Students participate in small group discussions to prove or disprove what they know or what they have learned. They share their thinking amongst themselves and with other groups. Following group discussions, students may present their findings to the whole class. Because more students are actively engaged in discussions and are constructing their own understanding, this is a more meaningful exchange than teacher led discussions.
Teachers should allow time for students to participate in meaningful discussions for a number of reasons. One primary reason to make time for meaningful discussion is because science has a certain kind of language that should be practiced (Willington, 2011). Scientific terms are not used regularly in most communications with others. Many terms are only used in a scientific environment. In order for students to make connections and construct a meaningful scientific vocabulary these terms should be used appropriately and regularly. For example consider the terms: mitosis, oxidation, osmosis, and clavic...
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