additional questions). They changed their criteria to reflect their new understanding that knowledge in the scientific community depends on the sharing of information and evidence, and that new knowledge is often built on the contributions of fellow scientists.
Research shows that children are adept at learning how to participate in public speaking activities in the classroom. They quickly learn what the implicit norms, rights, and obligations for speaking are. When students resist taking on the roles or norms of classroom activities, it is not because they’re not smart enough to know what the norms are. Rather, it often means that students resist assuming these roles because it means taking on a social or academic identity with which they feel uncomfortable. Students must feel that they belong, and they must want to belong. When classroom discourse is successful, every student is treated as a full member of the group, with all of the rights and status of membership, even before they have fully mastered the discourse.
The second strategy for effectively promoting equality in discourse is making evident the connections between students’ everyday thinking, knowledge, and resources and those of practicing scientists. In the Chèche Konnen research program, researchers conducted studies with Haitian Creole students and their teachers over 15 years to identify key points of contact between students’ ways of knowing and scientific ways of knowing. For example, they observed that the students visualized themselves in problems, regularly evoking analogies, arguments, and narratives as a means of making sense of phenomena—all common strategies among scientists.
One student who was investigating animal behavior—in this case, the preference of ants for different kinds of habitats—imagined himself in the different habitats. His original intention had been to set up an experiment to establish whether ants prefer an environment that is dark to one that is brightly lit. But as this student imagined himself as an ant crawling through the soil, he began to wonder how either side of the chamber—lit or unlit—could possibly appear light to an ant underground.9 The Chèche Konnen research program demonstrates how the cultural practices of urban, language-minority students can be drawn on to support high-level scientific reasoning and problem solving.10
Some of the strategies discussed earlier in this chapter, such as student and teacher revoicing, the modeling of scientific argument, and the use of wait time, are especially helpful in classrooms in which there is great linguistic diversity among students. These strategies help slow the pace of the discussion, allowing time for complex ideas to be expressed, listened to, repeated, revoiced, and