Explanation Game

I love the simplicity of the Explanation Game and the rich thinking it exposes.

Purpose: What kind of thinking does this routine encourage?
This is a routine for understanding why something is the way it is.

You can download a pdf detailing the thinking routine at Project Zero (Link)

I have used it recently with Year 1 and Year 4 students.

Year 1

Currently, as part of a Science unit, Year 1 students are researching the design of race tracks. I used the Explanation Game as the basis of our first lesson. I wanted to familiarise students with race track design and assess prior knowledge.

Working in groups of 3 the students were asked to study a given circuit and respond verbally using the following sentence starters:

I notice..…… this required the students to carefully observe the image and identify something they found of interest in the image.

I think.…… this enabled the students to bring their thoughts into the conversation. Some responses were based on prior knowledge, others were simply creative ideas.

I wonder.….. this generated questions for further investigation. It enabled student voice in learning.

Sample response:

I notice there is a long straight part in the track.
I think it is so cars can go really fast.
I wonder what is the fastest they can go on that bit of the track?

Year 4

Students were asked to observe two pictures related to a unit on Education. As this was the first time they had experienced the Explanation Game, I used the same sentence starters as Year 1. Rather than responding verbally students were asked to blog their responses which enabled their peers to reply to comments and begin a process of deeper reflection.

Consider how you might use it in your HSIE lesson.