Friday was a day like any other. Class was moving along as the students were completing a carbon cycle simulation. Well, I asked the question of “can you describe the limitations of this model?” since I am trying to find a way to weave the modeling NGSS practice into my everyday lessons. Well, I got the very basic answers: it’s not real life, that’s not a real reservoir, that’s not a real carbon atom. I was getting frustrated and could sense it. Instead of just letting the lesson crumble into a diatribe on “why aren’t you thinking”, I took a breath and then rebooted the discussion. I started with telling them that they need to believe in themselves, that they aren’t wrong just basic answers, and to think beyond the literal or obvious limitations. Hands shot up but then I told them they had to take one minute to think. One minute to sit there and not talk to anyone. One minute to chew on what we had just discussed. One minute to really, really think about it. We sat there, listening to the clock. One minute passed and then I asked them to turn to a partner and discuss what they had thought. It was after that I asked if anyone thought they had come up with a higher order limitation. A student offered up that the time frame being completed here in class is in minutes and real life could be anywhere from minutes to decades. Another talked about the limited amount of options in class, the ratios of options. After we got done, I asked what they thought now. The students did agree that the limitations were much better. Wait time wins again!!

How do the rest of you use wait time? Do you find it excruciating and just want to give them the answer?