Wednesday, March 25, 2009

TPACK ch 9 Science

When we try to pick out anything by itself,
we find it is tied to everything else in the universe.

John Muir (1838-1914) U. S. naturalist, explorer.
Science is not formal logic–
it needs the free play of the mind in as great a degree as any other creative art.
It is true that this is a gift which can hardly be taught,
but its growth can be encouraged in those who already posses it.

Max Born (1882-1970) German Physicist. Nobel Prize, 1954.

Reading this chapter, I am struck by the fact that science and teaching science implies that people will use technological tools in their studies. It is not enough to learn about a microscope, you get to actually use one! It is a tool for a purpose! I love this.
I also love how science embraces technology to simulate events or conditions that may not be easily understood in "real life" or else impossible to simulate. This allows people to see and experience a scientific phenomenon without having to "be there".

One of the most striking sentences in this chapter was on page 198: Using something new means risking failure. YES. We as teachers cannot model that we are afraid to fail. It is often more educational for our students to watch us as teachers process and learn something new, because it models for them that we are not born experts, we are humans, capable of error, and capable of error correction. Anticipating how to use technology is hard and calls on teachers' knowledge in many different ways. YES. It requires us to start at zero and build...much like we require of our students. Teachers need to mine their own internal resources--their knowledge of science, of students, and of pedagogy--to anticipate and prepare for what will likely happen when the technology is used. YES. Take out science, insert any content area. Activate the schema, trust yourself as an educator, push through the barrier of the "unknown" and work with your students to make it the "known".

Some great tips for making the unknown the known:
  • Give them time to play with the technology
  • Teach about the technology ahead of time (frontload)
  • Identify possible fail points, anticipate them, and reassure the students that this may happen and it is ok
  • Make the learning space a place where it is ok to try it out, learn about it, and share

One of the most powerful moments of my first semester this year was at the end of the movie project...when I had the kids all add their new-found expertise to a wiki called tutorials. All of their hard work learning the technology was validated and they use this space as a reference. My students were empowered, and they each contributed something to the wiki. They owned the fact that it was hard to learn all these apps and programs to make a movie...but they did it.

One more really good thread from the chapter: understanding student misconceptions is essential to adjusting teaching practices. In other words, you know what they don't know and that is a dynamic that changes with every class. Understanding where to "fix" the errors is the true teaching...not covering content or slogging through a chapter, but finding those misconceptions and dealing with them.

There are so many possible errors, and so many possible tools to use. The assumption is the teacher will never stop learning. I like that. The assumption is that we need to not be afraid of the unknown, and modeling how we come to know is essential. The assumption is we as teachers need that pre-service modeling of not being afraid of technology and we as teachers need master teachers to model for us. YES.

Link to Rhonda's reflection.

Link to Jake's reflection.


Amity said...

I love the idea of integrating science with other content areas. My brother who teaches at Eckerd has his environmental studies kids plant a garden at the local elementary school and it is a springboard for a lot of other content areas....math, writing, design, etc.

jbogar said...

Amity, as you mentioned, simulations are a powerful way to "simulate events or conditions that may not be easily understood in "real life" or else impossible to simulate". There are many free simulations available online that can extend senses in time and space and make student experiences with previously unobservable concepts interactive. I find the interactive simulations at great.


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