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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Working with youth as learning partners: Advice from adult leaders

Adult leaders' ideas for building D2D Citizen Science teams

The Driven to Discover Citizen Science adult leader role offers many opportunities to work with young people - as scientists, as researchers, and as team members. "Soft skills" of communication, collaboration, and critical thinking/problem solving are AS important as the more concrete skills connected to data collection and conducting investigations.

Adult leaders play an important role in ensuring that young people form a sense of belonging to the team, feel supported, collaborate with others, and engage in authentic inquiry. Adult leaders identified strategies for strengthening the "team" and building toward engagement in authentic inquiry during the June 2013 adult leader training. Take a look at their recommendations.....

Strengthening team Interactions
  • Play off individuals' strengths - boosts self-confidence and participation within the group.
  • Each day start with a short activity/mixer.
  • My youth come in "pairs" - Encourage them to interact outside of their "pair".
  • Learning science skills is a collaborative process as a group.
  • Showing community what is done.
  • Adult leaders are part of the group and should contribute -" I wonder" too!
  • Call on unique expertise (youth teach, catch up absent partners).
  • Curriculum supports planned opportunities for youth to do small group activities.
  • Share research ideas with each other and debate the sides of each to come up with a solid project.
  • Creating a team name, mascot, identifier (i.e. Bandannas).
  • Youth are encouraged to share their background knowledge, what they bring to the program.
  • Insisting kids mix with each other, and supporting them in doing so, i.e. with activities.
  • Set kids up in situations where they need support from the others and can provide support to each other. For example, cooperative data collection.
  • Visualize/role-play good relationships and model them.

Strengthening engagement of youth
  • Plan small group activities.
  • Get families involved.
  • Ask youth to reflect on their satisfaction with what they accomplish.
  • Deliberately promote "belonging" - watch for cliques/exclusion.
  • List of expectations from kids.
  • Teamwork.
  • Use the "I wonder" questions from kids to identify testable questions.
  • Reflection and rethink part of the inquiry process is all about engagement.
  • Reflection is part of the curriculum.
  • Need some "down time" to allow conversation about life outside D2D.
  • Let youth decide on the research project, based on their interests.
  • Project your own interest onto the students - ask them questions; ask them your own questions before they come up with their own.
  • Create agreed on goals and boundaries.
  • Round table, round table, round table (use a conference style, table discussion with presentations of questions, hypotheses, plans to build engagement).
Pam Larson Nippolt
Driven to Discover project team member

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