In a grade 9 academic classroom setting I made a few assumptions based on prior experience – 1) students generally are well adept at information retrieval and have had some exposure to science through the grade 7/8 curriculum and 2) all students are curious by nature. With that in mind I wanted to foster that curiosity but focus it through the scientific method.
Discovery learning is by and large a jargon term that exists in a perfect world with unlimited time and resources, outside of the realm of marks, report cards and the dreaded school bell. In practice, restrictions such as safety, materials, classroom layout and direct instructions of curriculum expectations severely limit the time it takes to truly facilitate discovery learning a la Miss FrizzleÕs class. The few times I have ventured off the beaten path, deviated from my linear unit plans and allowed a lab or discussion or activity to stretch several days beyond my pre-determined amount of time, I found that it was usually well worth the stress or lost expectations because the students ended up a) enjoying the activity, b) engaging it fully and c) gaining a deeper understanding of the concepts involved.