As the beginning of the school year gets underway I ask myself this question: “What learning environment will I provide so that my students can’t wait ‘til the next class?” — from Dolores Gende , a Physics teacher and Director of Instructional Technology at Dallas, Texas. Her reflections inspired us about the real meanings of science education.
From her post “Engage=Connect” :
“I believe that every person is unique and every child can learn, but I recognize that students learn best when engaged, where expectations are appropriately challenging within an environment that is both safe and that contributes to the dignity and self-worth of all. I also believe that engagement depends on quality interactions resulting from connections that happen inside and outside of the classroom.”
She engages her students by making connections to their passions, including : sports, music, and art. She also makes connection to popular video games such as “Angry Birds” by conducting a quantitative analysis of the game in order to answer the questions about Physics rules in the game. She makes the labs a hands-on, inquiry-based environment instead of following cookbook instructions. She engages the students by facilitating their connection to the world through their own blogs so that they can become self-starters on learning. She even modified her grading policy to shift the focus from “getting an A” to “becoming proficient” in physics though a modified version of performance-based assessment. She enriches her teaching through professional connections with colleagues at school and PLN(Personal Learning Network).
And, in this article : “21st Century Science Teaching : Getting Students beyond Formula Hunting Strategies“, starting from the revisions of college board AP courses, she demonstrated how the AP Science Practices can be integrated in the 21st century science classrooms with a variety of strategies for the implementation of digital tools.
The curriculum frameworks for the new science courses are organized around subject specific ‘Big Ideas’ with a strong focus on scientific reasoning and inquiry. The courses will emphasize depth over breadth and will include cutting edge areas of research within each discipline. (how the depth of understanding is built is explained through the following sequence)
Scientific Problems and Representations :
In most cases, by using appropriate equations a student is able to find the correct answer, but I will argue that finding the correct answer to a problem does not necessarily reflect a deep understanding of physics concepts.
Effective Approaches to Problem-Solving :
The ability to relate physics concepts to the situations presented by problems and questions is fundamental for success. A powerful strategy in developing a deep conceptual understanding is the use of Multiple Representations of Knowledge.
The Power of Multiple Representations :
An example is given to analyze each of the representations and its usefulness in helping the students deepen their conceptual understanding.
Multiple Representation Resources :
Multiple Representations in Physics by Rutgers University and multiple representation exercises resources in power point form are shared.
Digital Tools for Multiple Representations :
Digital tools for representations in verbal, pictorial, mathematical and graphical forms are recommended, please link to her article for detail information.
Another powerful tool that helps with the implementation of Multiple Representations is the use of virtual simulations. In the next posting of this series she elaborated effective strategies for using simulations and a variety of resources for simulations in all core areas of science.
More science education resources such as online tools, tutorials and project-based learning are listed in another post : “Making Science Relevant using the 5E’s“.
Hope this great reflection helps science educators facilitate an enjoyable and meaningful problem-solving journey for learners. Thanks to this teacher and others who have been nurturing scientific capability in all of us.
Image By Skippedtheclass (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons