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Equity and Diversity in IQWST

The vision forged in the equity and diversity chapter in the Framework shaped the core of IQWST’s development to “grow out of lived experiences” (NRC, p.284). Students’ funds of knowledge–their interests, language, identity, and prior knowledge–should be leveraged as the entry point into science and science learning in order to fluidly move between “everyday” and scientific ways to think about, talk about, and understand the world around us. This crucial principle guided the development of the Driving Question Board (DQB) in each IQWST unit. Along with discussion, the DQB is the tool by which teachers leverage students’ funds of knowledge around a complex and puzzling phenomenon. Students ask questions about the phenomenon – questions that reflect their interests and identity and are given a voice and a public stage through using the DQB. For instance, in the context of a weather phenomenon-based unit, one emerging bilingual student asked, “Why did air pollution only happens at China?” The DQB provided this student the opportunity to share his unique experiences in an area of the world where people go indoors for fresh air, rather than outdoors as many of his peers indicated is common cultural practice in the US. By sharing this question and experience aloud, this student is able to practice discipline-specific language while also constructing his identity as a science “knower.” Of course, the “need to know more” based on unanswered or partially answered questions motivates student engagement with the practices in order to figure out answers to their questions. When the curriculum doesn’t directly answer certain questions, these become opportunities for differentiation – for students to investigate or research. Moreover, the DQB and accompanying discussion is the primary tool for teachers to attend and respond to students’ funds of knowledge and keep their interests driving (and sustaining) their investigations in science.