Teaching for Ownership in the Middle School Science Classroom: Towards Practical Inquiry in an Age of Accountability

Clayton, Christine D.; Ardito, Gerald
December 2009
Middle Grades Research Journal;Winter2009, Vol. 4 Issue 4, p53
Academic Journal
The authors of this study document one middle school classroom in an attempt to understand how inquiry learning, supported with technological tools, can provide students with opportunities to develop ownership of science content knowledge. Case study and collaborative teacher researcher methods were utilized to document the implementation of a year-long science curriculum based on backwards design (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). Drawing upon sociocultural theories (Vygotsky, 1978; Wetsch, 1998), the authors utilized observations, examination of student work, and interview and survey data from students to articulate the conceptual and practical tools (Grossman, Smagorinsky, & Valencia, 1999) of nurturing ownership among middle school students in these high-stakes times. Results include the developmental nature of nurturing ownership among middle school students, the need for deliberate inclusion of authorship opportunities supported by technology, the reciprocal relationship of developing ownership of content and building a shared investment in the classroom environment, and the documentation of class chats as a deliberate effort to prepare, challenge, and reinforce student learning. Implications build a case for a practical inquiry where the instructional methods used are as important as the classroom conversations teachers and students engage in, where the goal is not inquiry learning but promoting a kind of shared ownership of the learning environment itself.


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