Hypothesizing for Depth

student thinking picture bookSeveral years ago when I taught music theory, I liked to notate a standard chord progression on the board, but leave the resolution blank.  I would then ask students what they thought would happen next.  Most would respond with the traditional and appropriate resolution.  I would then ask students what would happen if we resolved the progression in a non-traditional manner and provided such an example.  The energy of the room often increased as students used the non-traditional resolution as a springboard into new progressions and resolutions.  

While that may not make any sense whatsoever to non-musicians, the same process – asking questions, predicting, and changing anticipated outcomes – can be done in any most any content area, and it encourages deeper engagement and thinking.  How can you use predictions and hypotheses in your classroom?  In the book Teaching for Deeper Learning: Tools to Engage Students in Meaning Making authors Jay McTighe and Harvey Silver share the following classroom tools for helping students predict and create hypotheses:

  1. Prediction- and Hypothesis-Based Hooks: Questions are great ways to set the stage for predicting and hypothesizing activities.  Queries such as, “what if?” and “yes, but why?” grab attention and invite further inquisitiveness. 
  2. Inductive Learning:  Inductive reasoning involves moving from specific to general.  Give students a number of specific pieces of information, have them group it in meaningful ways and make broad generalizations from the information they are given.  
  3. Mystery:  Students love a good mystery.  They like sleuthing for clues and using that information to delve into new explorations.  Turn lesson topics into clues that beg for further study.  
  4. If-then:  Using if-then statements is a great way to help students generate and test hypotheses in the classroom.  After students test and confirm their hypotheses, they can report using if-then-because statements.   

As you prepare for next week, think of ways that you can incorporate these tools into your classroom (both traditional and virtual) activities.  You and your students will be glad you did!

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