Navigating a sea of ideas: Teacher and students negotiate a course toward mutual relevance



Theories of social cognition and verbal communication were used to analyze the science teaching of an experienced fourth-grade teacher. Her teaching skills in language arts and reading were assets in negotiating the rapid flow of relatively unstructured information typical of inquiry in elementary classrooms, to help students generate relevant information about hands-on experience. The teacher was a collaborator in this case study of her thinking and instructional planning, and her students' learning in a unit of instruction about space. Implications for elementary science instruction include recognizing the importance of embedded speech in conceptually broad discussions with students. Efforts to reform elementary science instruction should attend to these instructional skills more common to language arts instruction.