Equitable Participation and Science Identification
Central to science teaching and learning is a focus on equity and participation. Through being explicit and prioritizing this focus, we recognize that much of what has historically happened in schools has created barriers to equitable participation and has marginalized some learners, particularly those from underrepresented groups. This is important since we, like others, see learning as the participation in valued pursuits that involves more than acquiring knowledge. More specifically, participation can support learners in drawing on and making connections between their useful experiences and ways of solving problems connected to interests and community. Further, participation in meaningful pursuits can help students begin to see themselves in imaginative ways as they are recognized by others and recognize themselves as the kind of person that can do science, especially as this participation intersects with their other interests and ways of thinking about themselves (e.g., as a maker, a dancer, or an athlete). Given this, the following are some strategies and resources we use to invite students into and sustain participation in equitable ways within MBI units. Many of these strategies aren't new, but we believe they can become even more powerful as they are mapped across the arc of MBI units focused on developing and critiquing explanations and solving problems of consequence in ways that equitably supports all learners.
Driving Question Boards (DQBs) to Support Students Agentic Pursuits and Sensemaking Across an MBI unit
A DQB is an ongoing record of student questions that are elicited and publicly displayed early in an MBI unit and revisited across a unit. This supports students as they ask questions based on their idiosyncratic ways of thinking about phenomena or activities across the unit that are connected to their lived experiences. The DQB can support teachers as they are carefully considered in organizing (and adding) activities across the MBI unit, especially in Stage 3 of MBI. Through explicitly referencing next steps within the unit in connection to student DQB questions, students are able to see how they are afforded agency to help shape investigations they feel are necessary for explaining the MBI unit anchoring phenomenon. For additional information about DQBs, see the short video below.
Identifying and Connecting Learning to Related Phenomena Across the Arc of a Unit
Because we see learning as making connections between what students already know and what they are experiencing, similar to how DQBs can be used across a unit, a class record of what students think are phenomena that might be related to the MBI unit anchoring phenomenon can be instrumental for not only supporting deep connections/learning, but also for connecting what they are learning in classrooms to their lives, communities, and already existing ways of thinking. These related phenomenon are typically those that students have experiences with that they can draw on as thinking tools for reasoning both about the MBI unit anchoring phenomenon or in new ways about the proposed related phenomena. While it might be possible to use both a DQB and related phenomena to support more equitable participation across an MBI unit, we suggest that it might be wise to start with one first, so that careful consideration and attention can be paid to either the DQB or related phenomena as a way for students to take on more agency in helping decide what questions need to be answered or how related phenomena can be drawn on to support their reasoning and that of their peers.
Other Resources for Supporting Equitable STEM Participation
Note: MBI is curriculum. We recognize that curriculum is necessary, but not sufficient by itself for cultivating and sustaining equitable participation in classrooms. We believe curriculum can provide the structure and space for the type of instruction that truly allows all students to flourish, however we also recognize the local role of classroom norms and culture, as well as how local contexts are situated within broader sociopolitical, cultural, and historical contexts. Therefore we believe focused attention will be necessary both within and beyond MBI curriculum if all learners are to be supported.