Monday, April 18, 2016

McMullen- Modeling in the classroom

Upon reading the "Ambitious Science Teaching" article, I found the idea of 'model saturation'
 interesting. In thinking about modeling, it seemed as though referring to the models only once or twice a unit would not assist students in recognizing the necessity of revision in modeling. I always imagined having students refer back to their model at the end of every class day for a few minutes to jot down thoughts, new evidence, or other ways of thinking to explore. In this way stressing the importance of revision in model construction. However, it also does seem as though you would run the risk of having students tire of their model and the assignment. I wonder if there is a way to marry the two ideas: have students recognize the necessity of revision while not exposing them too much to their model that they tire of it.

The other point that stood out to me from the "Ambitious Science Teaching" article was the importance of revision and student explanation. These two seem very interconnected in my mind. If students are constantly revising their models and receiving feedback/critiques of the models, then they will have to have developed some sort of explanation of what their model is demonstrating/explaining. If they don't grasp an explanation, then that will make itself clear early on in the process because students will have difficulty justifying the decisions made in the construction of their model.

Which ideas or practices in the video and reading seem most important to you as a teacher for your students?

Two ideas from the article stood out to me as essential for student learning. The first idea was that student modeling should focus on processes - they should be dynamic so that the models can be used to answer questions fuel ideas for experiments. While this was touched on in class, the article made clear that merely constructing a model of a cell is not nearly a rich a learning experience as constructing a model of the process of cell division, for example,

Another idea in the article was that modeling activities be embedded within a context or used to answer an authentic question. Not only does this give all students the opportunity to engage in scientific practices, but it also helps English language learners because the context works as a type of scaffold. This scaffold does not focus on form, but rather process; therefore, this scaffold allows for increased rigor.


The reading stated that the whole goal of modeling is not for the students to necessarily give the right answer all the time, but rather learn what needs to be asked and understand in order to correct their model to be able to give them that right answer. In the video both professors discuss the importance of children arriving at their own conclusions with their own models in order to portray a deep understanding of scientific processes. As a teacher I think one of the most important things you can do is give the students the tools for success, but not the explicit explanation to every biological process.
Part of what made the experiments the students performed that the professors discussed successful was the fact that the students invented measures themselves and could see how their initial ideas about the subject changed throughout the process. Dr. Leona Schauble also mentioned how when you put children in situations where they have opportunities to learn and where there are stakes to the consequences then they understand variables more than when students are just given all the information and asked to regurgitate it. When students are in charge of thinking about what makes a good question, make that question, and participate in feedback and critique with that question, there is more to be learned. Dr. Schauble said how children had difficult time making a jar that was sustainable. She then said how this is an important lesson in itself because scientists don't just know the answers to everything right away, it makes time and manipulation and this is good for students to learn.
Being able to ask questions about original models, to learn what types of information needs to be gathered to refine models, to be able to add to or change models in response to evidence, to develop deep explanations are all very important skills in science and are skills teachers need to help students to learn.

Modeling instuction video Post

In the paper first I whole heartedly agree  with the premise that modeling and explanation go hand in hand. While explanation may be the car so to speak modeling is the fuel for that car. Modeling allows students to see   what and how they are thinking . It also allows them to chart  findings like a workout plan allowing you to see your gains ,see where you fell short and how to by pass that the next time. All the while you get stronger in your workout plan and you do in your comfortably with the subject matter. I can also appreciate how modeling allows you to build of a question that some times can be abstract and then funneled into a more streamlined theory. One example is that of the glass shattering. As students drew their model they realized  that their is more to the story than just the voice breaking the glass. Through he introduction of sounds waves and frequency students learned about pitch and how that can cause different vibrations and how these vibrations  repeated over a period of time  can  cause certain reactions  and occurrences.
I did really enjoy from the video a concept of saturation. This describes how we often push to many models in a class therefore overwhelming the students. In my opinion we as educators need to  slowly easy these models in and then make them apart of maybe one or two large lessons a semester with smaller lessons taught from a different style.

I think the ambitious science teaching article did a good job of pointing out the potential pitfalls of implementing models in a science classroom. One of the things the authors mentioned was the importance of having students create and improve their models on their own, as opposed to simply reproducing images or diagrams from a textbook. As mentioned before, this takes a good deal of preparation from the teacher. In this case, not only would the teacher have to prepare for the lesson itself, but would also have to prepare ways to guide and lead the students in the right direction. Furthermore, teachers intent on implementing scientific modeling will also have to prepare students with the skills necessary to design their own models.

I also liked what the article said about observable/unobservable features. Because so much of chemistry occurs at the atomic scale, I sometimes have trouble imagining how I would create a model for some of the more nebulous concepts (such as Gibbs' free energy). Hopefully by encouraging students to think about and model unobservable parts of a chemical reaction along with the observable parts, I can better prepare students to think about and understand the microscopic qualities involved in a chemical reaction.

I also thought the idea of "model saturation" was interesting and something that we haven't discussed in depth. Honestly, I'm pretty relieved that teachers say it might be a good idea to do models only once or twice per unit, and that some units might be better taught without long and engaged models, as preparation of modeling activities seems like no small task. However, this does bring up the question of what teaching methods should one use to fill up the remainder of the time and what is the best way to implement those methods.

Models & Modeling

One of the challenging things I saw in the article we read was the need for students to connect models to explanations.  I think it could be very easy to have students model an event or process and revise it, but them to not be able to explain their models in the end.  It could end up being like trying to teach students the physics concepts of falling motion by only having them play Angry Birds - some students would get something out of it, many would not, and even those that did may not be able to articulate the concepts accurately.

To that end, I think that it's important for us as teachers to consistently be pushing students to develop explanations using their model.  If we simply push them to make a model, we may not be developing deep understanding of concepts in our students.  This is why I think that the middle day of model revision, adding to explanations, and critiquing each other's models is so important to the learning sequence.  It allows the teacher and fellow students the opportunity to push students to think about explaining the unobserved rules behind the observed phenomena.

Harlow Connections

One of the biggest things talked about is this knowledge in pieces theory. I think this is golden. We as people let alone students learn task and skills and trades in pieces.., so why no apply that to school work? For instance as students complete there undergraduate/graduate  course work we take courses in stages that will build off of each other . This allows us to form a  strong base knowledge focused on guiding principles and mastered techniques in order to move onto the next stage of topic. These are taken in sequential order rather than just in a myriad of un connected confusing ways. In forming central Ideas Mikeska , Anderson, and Schwartz provide possible the three paramount points of instruction for new teachers to master. These points favor ground rules of the bare bones skeleton that must be accomplished first before teachers can earn style points. 1. Science must be engaging to students. 2. Teachers must have an organized instruction that can  hold students attentions. 3. They must be able to understand students prior knowledge. The last point rings very true. If a professor doesn't fully understand the material or how the student arrived at the conclusion  then they cannot fully help beak down common misconceptions  steer he lesson in the correct manner. Later on  in the  paper a research study  was conducted. The paper details  what happens when a teacher began o teach a course to aspiring teachers and the outcomes. Predictably students  had assignments ranging from teaching philosophy's to sample lesson plans. Yet what was very intriguing was  the multi media approach used in the class. The professor  recorded over 40 hours of classroom interaction as well as personal interviews with the students. Through the collection of data some pedagogical traits taken from how teachers thought the best way to provide students with the knowledge to learn were found.  The first is the teachers role is provide students the answer. The second is to provide students information that leads them up to the correct answer. The third a good model  includes scientific terms.  While the last was a children as creative thinkers method. The final thing point that stuck me in this reading was the creativity index that should be applied to knowledge based learning. If we can instill this knowledge in our young thinkers I believe this modeling based learning can be a very big success.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Modeling Introduction and Video

One of the points made in the modeling article was that often teachers ask their students to recreate models that already exist. For example, they might ask students to "posterize" or draw something that they have already seen in their textbooks, which doesn't always promote learning as it involves little problem solving or personal connection. I felt this happened in nearly all of my biology classes- I was asked to draw animal cells and plant cells on posters starting in fifth grade and again in sixth grade, ninth grade, and eleventh grade. Somehow, I managed to forget almost all of that information by the time I was in college level Biology, probably because I had never asked useful questions about cells, such as "how does a cell maintain its shape?" or "what allows organelles to travel within cells, and how can that be modeled?" Overall, what I learned from this section of the article was that engaging in the modeling process involves much more than simple representation and extends further into problem solving and constant revision with the introduction of new evidence.
The article reminded me that modeling is used extensively by scientists and researchers but can often seem foreign to teachers and students. Therefore, it is especially important that we as aspiring educators learn as much as possible, and that includes studying effective modeling practices already conducted by teachers. Carolyn's sound waves unit, which took place over the course of 11 days, showed me just how much dedication she had as a teacher. She engaged the students in modeling, and then had them perform activities and engage in debate with one another about their models- all components of an ideal ADI.
An idea in the video that seems important to me as a future educator was that students as early as first grade can begin to grasp data distributions and statistics, which are often regarded with dread by students in high school and even college. The instructor's students were able to model data of plant growth, and were asked to describe how "spread out" the data were, an interesting and effective method of introducing the concepts of variance and standard deviance without introducing the confusing vocabulary!
The video was effective in giving great examples for a biology classroom, such as creating "sustainable" ecosystems in pickle jars. It also gave me more confidence in starting large projects with students with the faith that they will catch on and produce ideas of their own using their own intuition and creativity. In other words, the teacher's job is not to create models for students or to ask them to re-create existing models, but rather to guide them and ask them important questions that can be investigated, debated, and revised through the PROCESS of modeling.

What modeling in a classroom looks like

What I found most interesting about the reading this week was that in order to be successful at modeling in the classroom, preparation is key. Because modeling is so effective as a teaching tool, I know everyone in our class wants to use it. Therefore, we all need to understand how much extra effort goes into providing this type of experience for the students. Letting student's make mistakes is a lot harder than it seems and as teachers we need to learn how to correct without just giving away the answer. Modeling can also be scary though. Letting student's frame their own ideas can go horribly wrong and being able to correct is important. This is learned over time and I think it is also important for teachers to consider that not every modeling experiment will go as planned but this isn't a reason to stop doing it.

The 5 key requirements were useful to hear in this context, however, I read them and thought- duh. Sometimes I forget that coming from a field that uses models so heavily, these concepts aren't second nature to everyone. It is so important to understand what an effective modeling task is for students. Doing extra work in the beginning really can help facilitate students learning and ultimately make students more independent thinkers. Overall, I think the reading and video were trying to impress upon us the importance of modeling and how to do it right. This is a great place to start for how to design a modeling experience and what are the important features. Understanding that charts and graphs are only a tool is also important.  A lot of work goes into planning a modeling experiment but the benefits definitely outweigh the costs.

Modeling Blog

One key idea that came up in the reading was the definition of a model useful in the classroom. While a scientific model can take many forms, including drawings, graphs, and simulations, not all of these model forms are useful in the classroom. I've been shown many textbook models during my instruction, but they were never as memorable as engaging labs, an investigation. Models in the classroom need to help students make predictions, explain phenomena, find gaps in knowledge, and ask new questions. This idea ties in closely with how most teachers use models, as explanations. Students learning is not supported well unless students are actively solving problems situated in everyday circumstances. Simply learning what others have compiled in a textbook is not conducive to learning. The way teachers ask questions is very key as well; questions need to be open ended and engaging, a kind of question a scientist would ponder. Another key component of modeling required by teachers is an emphasis on revising models. With many students focused more on grades rather than learning, it can be difficult to encourage revisions. Some students might choose to not hypothesize at all rather than be wrong.

One of the pieces of helpful advice from teachers who successfully combined modeling with their classroom instruction that stood out to me was avoiding model fatigue. It makes a lot of sense to not have students refer back to their models too often, but I'm not sure that I would have thought of only once or twice per unit as sufficient. However, it's important to remember that my first modeling unit won't go perfectly, and I'll be able to revise instruction in the future. I was also tempted to attempt to set up modeling lessons that tied together tons of ideas, but the phenomenon cannot be the anchor for all ideas in a unit. That choice would put too much stress on the modeling activity; some non-modeling lessons can help students brainstorm for future model revisions.

One of the most important messages from the video, in my opinion, was that it can be beneficial to gently ease students into modeling. Even though it might seem very useful, programming might be too ambitious of an initial modeling unit. One question that I began thinking of is how my instruction should change based on students' modeling histories. For example, a K-12 school might be able to emphasize modeling units from an early age, allowing teachers in high school to really use modeling units as the backbone to instruction. I would be curious though how to differentiate modeling units in classrooms with students with varying levels of familiarity with modeling.

4/18 Highlights for Teaching with Modeling

The article from Ambitious Science Teaching approaches modeling in a realistic and straightforward manner that I believe frames the transition to more modeling in classrooms in a positive light. It really touches on some of the early concerns we had as a class, but with feasible solutions. First of all, the connection to modeling and explanation is a key bonus for incorporating more modeling into Science curricula. I have found thus far in my education classes that explanation is such a vital skill we should be teaching and instilling in our students because it is so much more valuable than rote memorization and fact recall. What I particularly liked about the article was its connection for teachers that one teacher was able to use her normal curriculum with only minor modification and even improvements once modeling was incorporated into the unit therefore showing that incorporating modeling does not have to be a huge undertaking. Out of the five qualities that make modeling useful in classrooms my favorite and one principle I would take into serious consideration when choosing which units to include modeling projects in is that the phenomena being modeled should be "context-rich." My high school chemistry teacher loved talking about applications of whatever topic we were learning about and it really helps answer that age old question of "when would I ever need this in real life?" Modeling offers a great example for students to take the conceptual science they are learning and see how it affects or is affected by the world around it. In the video Rich Lehrer noted that models can be better than labs where students already know the outcome and just wait to see if they get the correct results, granted I don't believe all labs work like that, but there is truth in the sentiment that the organic learning models can bring about is a great addition for classrooms.
What I am taking away the most from the video is that how you approach modeling as a teacher can really influence student achievement. Leona Schauble noted that students do not preform as well when they are learning and working in unfamiliar settings, thus as a teacher one should gradually introduce your students to modeling perhaps with simpler drawn models before a full create your own computational model. Also the example in the video with the 6th grade students creating sustainable pickle jar environments brought up two final things I think as a future teacher it is important to recognize. First is that it is important to find a balance between computer modeling and written/drawn models for the sake of not boring students as well as being able to let different students' talents show (not everyone is a computer person and not everyone is artistic). In connection to the need for also having written/drawn models revision should be done sparingly as well as with consistency throughout the class- aka having agreed upon symbols/depictions for certain trends or figures. The last component which I will carry into my classroom is more holistic and less tangible to grade, but nevertheless still important. Leona Schauble noted the progression of students questions from the beginning of the unit to the end and how they became more sophisticated and precise and created a set of criteria for the question being asked that it is: doable, public, sensible, and most importantly genuine/cannot be looked up in a textbook. As a teacher designing modeling units/activities I plan to pay particular attention to these qualities to create meaning experiences for my students.

John Skinner 4/18 Response

At Peabody orientation, we were able to hear from a panel of local middle school and high school principals about the job application process. Many principals mentioned that during interviews, they want prospective teachers to be able to effectively convey "what rigor looks like" in their discipline and in their classroom. Given this framework, I think that the "Ambitious Science Teaching" article does a great job elaborating how processes of model construction/revision and accompanying explanation help students participate in a rigorous curriculum while allowing them to engage in the epistemic culture of science. For me, one of the most important points from this article was the importance of model revision. Students learn by creating base models and editing those models as new information becomes available--students are required to consider what needs to be represented and how those agents should be depicted. For me, it will be important to remember to allow some of this "struggle time" during class. Because these various iterations of models are so crucial to the learning progress, it is important to fight the urge to simply provide correct answers.

The video also brought up an interesting point about assigning roles in the classroom for group modeling activities. In the ecology modeling activity, Dr. Leona Schauble mentioned that different students were "specialists" for different aspects of the ponds that the students were attempting to model (for example, there was a group of student "specialists" that researched algae behavior). I thought that this was an intriguing take on group modeling projects because it allows students to study one agent in a given environment, present it to their group, and then argue for what behaviors they want to depict in their group model. This specialization allows students to engage in methods of argumentation and explanation before even constructing a model.
I thought the most important message about modeling is that it's a process rather than an end result. The paper and video both talked about how modeling is an exercise that students use to revise and refine their conceptual ideas. It is simply not to represent a phenomena in pictorial forms, which we have seen all too often in figures found in textbooks, but a process where students start with a simple exploratory model, to show what they understand about an anchor problem, what elements they know about, and what some gaps are in their knowledge. The teacher would then lead students on activities and experiments to fill those gaps (oftentimes invisible) so students could revises their model with new knowledge and evidence. I thought it's interesting that modeling sort of serves as a background, yet central, aspect to learning, in that it is a template for acquiring new understanding. It is a dynamic process that requires students to use evidence to explain their models and I think it is for this reason that modeling is superior to traditional instruction.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

4/18 Blogpost

I think what's most important for the sake of modeling is to consider context.  A lot of the modeling lecture provided focused on the kind of modeling the students were doing from a very young age, but I'm not sure the practices it discussed are all easily adoptable.  While I can certainly appreciate many of the practices/benefits of the projects students performed and the process, I don't know how feasible such things are for a high school chemistry teacher.

It is worth noting that the Schauble and Lehrer focused on modeling from a young age and consistently exercising and expanding on these skills.  At the same time, they were able to have extensive modeling projects partially due to the fact that elementary science classes are much more general in content and may have more leeway in what kind of instruction goes on in the classroom.  Making the transition to high school, the curriculum is a lot more constrained due to state standards and standardized testing, and we may not be able to rely on students having had previous experience with modeling.  The obvious unfortunate implication here is that even if I were to find time to be able to implement a deep, extended modeling project, it would likely have to at least begin for some considerable time at an elementary level.

Of course, these sentiments are in no way "deal breakers" to modeling, but I do think it requires a shift in execution.  As we've discussed in class, implementing modeling doesn't have to be a dramatic overhaul that covers the entire school year.  It can be one project a semester or even year if one is really strapped for time, but it is somewhat of a shame that the opportunities I have to implement modeling in the classroom is somewhat limited by my medium of instruction (and my own inexperience on the matter).

On that note, I think what was important about these materials are the philosophies of modeling we can take away from them.  I think by convention, I have gradually slipped more and more towards modeling as an explanatory medium for students.  That is, for example, chemical equilibrium exists, and here's a model showing it.  But I think it's important to keep in mind the real  point of modeling and inquiry is to get students to think about and actually practice science.  Their independence is an important tool to guide their own study and understanding of the world, and I suppose as teachers we can frequently underestimate students.  Another note that was particularly poignant to me was Lehrer's argument that current science education promotes a shallow understanding of a multitude of topics, and its more valuable for students to have an in-depth understanding of a more singular concept, as that promotes deeper thinking.  That being said, I think that sentiment is somewhat difficult to implement; there are a lot of things one needs to know in say, chemistry, to even begin to have an understanding of bonding dynamics.  But I also think that there's a certain way to implement material and to connect ideas with students to try and promote a deeper understanding of bonding (for the sake of this example).

What's important then is to have students consider the synergistic qualities of many chemical properties instead of looking at them as independent bodies of thought and knowledge.  I think my biggest takeaway from the reading was the idea that "teaching is about working on and with student ideas".  If the essence of modeling is about student inquiry, then it is up to teachers to guide students and to support their independence and investigation about a subject.  While that raises some questions for me regarding when is the best time to implement a large-scale modeling project, I think it's important to keep in mind that the content of my class should be useful and relevant knowledge to student models and to the world around the students.

Monday, April 11, 2016


Harlow et al. talks about the concept of "pedagogical resources," defined as "small, discrete ideas about teaching science that are applied appropriately or inappropriately in specific contexts" (Harlow et al., 2013). Harlow et al. references the three major problems in training preservice science teachers as originally proposed by Mikeska et al. in 2009: (1) engaging students in science, (2) organizing instruction and (3) understanding students' ideas. The most pressing difficulty, Harlow argues, is that science teachers must understand students' ideas in order to organize their instruction in the first place. This is especially relevant in our class discussions on the difficulty of implementing effective scaffolding in a lesson.

The first pedagogical resource that Harlow proposes is that the teacher's role is to provide the right answer. The Hestenes article discussed in class reinforces this idea that while many students can recite Newton's laws of motion, they do not know how to apply the laws correctly. NGSS also ties into this concept, agreeing that students should not be taught to memorize and regurgitate facts but rather to think scientifically.

Two points that Harlow et al. made was that teachers should learn content using the methods they will be using to teach and that models should be taught iteratively. This is something that is reflected in our class, as we learn to use the modeling software StarLogo Nova extensively. We are also given several scenarios in which to iteratively improve on our models little by little, and finally work on teaching the modeling process in the second half of the class after we've already mastered the learning ourselves.

An interesting concept emphasized by Harlow et al. is the idea that all the pedagogical resources can be helpful to students when applied appropriately, and that they are only negative when applied inappropriately in the classroom. This is something I would have liked to see more discussion of in the other readings for our class, especially pertaining to the first resource that the teacher's role is to provide the right answer. Part of the difficulty in implementing the correct amount of scaffolding also depends on when the teacher chooses to provide the "right answer" for certain concepts.

pedagogical resources

                This article connects very well with our class because in addition to reading and discussing articles about scientific modeling generally in the classroom, we have been actually engaging in modeling processes ourselves. Engaging in knowledge construction is one way pre-service teachers can appreciate the value of engaging students in scientific modeling. The article highlights pedagogical resources that pre-service teachers bring to class. Interestingly, none of these “small ideas” are necessarily problematic in themselves. Instead, they can be appropriately or inappropriately applied in to teaching.

                The most interesting aspect of the article highlights the discrepancy between pre-service teachers’ abilities to talk about the importance of modeling and student ideas and the actual lessons that they planned; while many of the lessons included modeling, many did not include plans for building on student ideas and incorporating them into future plans. This shows that the “apprenticeship of observation” is a much stronger influence than we think. It takes a lot of effort to plan lessons that are responsive to student ideas because these are inherently less predictable; it takes much more thoughtful planning to come up with good questions and anticipate student answers. Even if we have taken the time to anticipate student responses, we still cannot predict everything and must be comfortable with some improvising.  
The first thing that came to mind for me was the relationship between the "pedagogical resources" and the Newtonian World we hypothesized about a few weeks ago. In both cases, the resources can determine an "appropriate" application of conceptual knowledge, and in the end use modeling to reach that "sophisticated pedagogical stance."

The three problems of practice directly relate to our work now in this modeling class trying to create not just effective modeling programs, but also effective vehicles of delivery that appeal to potential students and engage them in the learning process. Of course, the effective model-based science instruction appeals to this concern directly. Understanding the uses of different model types becomes just as necessary a skill as being able to read the classroom. And by taking this class, we are actively combating Windschitl and Thompson's thought that the undergraduate experience does "little to advance the idea of models beyond that of acting as pedagogical props.”

Harlow connections

The Harlow et al reading this week really put a lot of things in perspective for me. It did a good job of putting our past readings into context and made me think about how to develop my teaching style in a way that puts the students first. The idea of learning about learning is something that was foreign to me before this course, based on my strictly science background and while reading I thought a lot about how students can benefit from learning about how they learn. As teachers it is our job to understand how our students learn and develop our lessons around strengthening their understanding. By indirectly teaching students how they learn we are creating independent thinkers and as a teacher that is my highest goal. With the implementation of NGSS this will become increasingly more important.

Learning about modeling through actually modeling things ourselves in class is something I questioned from the beginning of this class. However, I am seeing now that this is the best way to for me truly understand what I am trying to teach. Modeling means more to me now when I think about “knowledge in pieces” and using modeling to give kids the opportunity to draw connections on their own. By giving our students the "pieces" and the tools they need to succeed we are preparing them for not only future classes but life in general.  

Harlow Response - Phillip

Despite the potential gains students receive when I use modeling instruction, I have still retained some reservations which Harlow et al. identify and respond to.  My major reservation is that I wonder whether we should ask students to reinvent the wheel.  Scientists create and use models, yes, but they do so in the context of their own knowledge and experience as well as that of the scientific community.  With that in mind, should we ask our students to develop models of concepts for which the scientific community has already tested and accepted certain models?

While this article did not address this reservation explicitly, it gave me some ideas as to how to approach instruction through modeling based activities.  Based on our previous readings, I think that it might be a good idea to begin a unit or instructional sequence by giving students a specific situation and asking them to develop a model to explain what they see, similar to what we did with the Galapagos ground finches in class.  After students develop their models, and perhaps compare them with those developed by their classmates, I can use those models and the current understanding shown in them to design the instructional sequence with the goal of getting students to revise their models to come close to a target model.  The instructional sequence may include some elements of traditional science teaching - giving students the answers - but only for some parts, likely the ones students are completely off base on.

The challenges presented in this method of instruction are that 1) student understanding will vary.  Determining how to design the instructional sequence based on student understanding will be difficult to do, especially as the sequence might necessarily vary from period to period.  2) Limiting the length of an instructional sequence will be difficult to do without giving students the answers some of the time.  If students are allowed to explore every possible aspect of their models, even with guided instruction, we could spend all semester on a single topic.  In fact, there are several topics we only spent a week or two on in high school biology which we spent a whole semester covering in college, sometimes more.

The biggest takeaway I got from this article is that while teaching by getting students to develop models is important, it is also very difficult.  I will probably use some inappropriate methods, especially early on, but I hope that I can identify them and learn from them over the course of my career.


What first came to mind for me was the four pedgagocial resources, or the ideas about how to teach science. These resources seemed to align with some of the goals we thought of as a class for achieving with our students. Especially, an initial  engaging students in science. Almost every group that came up things we want to achieve as teachers mentioned to some degree about getting students interested in science The other ideas, organizing instruction, understanding students’ ideas and understanding children are creative thinkers were also though of in some capacity.
We also talk a lot about how interactions share experience in a classroom. How if students learn through physically seeing and working through an activity, such as modeling, that there is more gained from that experience than simply lecturing the students about a topic. The fact that there are multiple elements that shape a students learning experience seems to be emphasized a lot in our class. We have discussed and this paper mentions the importance of texts, peer interaction, evidence, and their own prior ideas when learning science. Harlow stresses and we have talked about how using a broad array of resources, such as introducing the concept via worksheet or handout with the important information on it, and then allowing the students to take the activities in their own directions using add-ons and challenge questions with models, help students broaden and deepen their understanding.

This paper also talks about LAL activities, teacher learners watching clips of students working through activities similar to those they completed, analyze these children’s ideas, and reflect on the relationship between the nature of science and the process of learning science. This is just what we do in our class. Whether it is short clips or readings about how students interact with and interpret modeling activities, we see how students are creating and refining models and in the process developing a well rounded, deep understanding of the concepts.

Harlow Response

This semester, we have learned a more conceptual and logical working definition of modeling and its incorporation into the classroom. From reading such papers as Collins and Fergueson (Espistemological Games) to Lesh's approach to modeling, we have several sources that can tie us back into this weeks reading. Harlow's paper gives a sort of dos and donts to model application in the classroom. One idea the paper speaks of that stood out to me was the concept of modeling application being a problem for beginning teachers because " requires them to understand students' ideas in order to organize instruction." This statement is extremely true because, as we have previously discussed, it's important to meet students where they are and know the limitations they have when engaging in modeling. Children do not learn or think the same, so as an instructor, it's important to first know your students, their ideas in terms of the material, then create a cohesive blueprint of instruction in order to make sure all the students can fully learn from and engage in modeling. The paper speaks on "Knowledge in Pieces" which was a learning concept of diSessa (next week's reading). I found this concept of a student utilizing their environment to learn fascinating because modeling can create those environments in order for a student to make the parallels from computational (or whatever form used) to the real world. This is extremely important in modeling and science education. Also, it is good for an instructor to identify the small pieces that are necessary to bring together in order to create the big picture that they need for the student to see. I think the authors took a great approach using undergraduate physics instruction as the area for the research. I personally struggled with this class and so did of my peers because our instruction was so linear. The idea of getting feedback from the students and keeping teach of their progress in terms of learning modeling and the material is important because as an instructor, one should always be aware of where the students are to ensure no one is left behind in the instruction. Overall, this paper does a great job tying the previous concepts learned into one cohesive work. 

McMullen- Harlow response

What initially stood out to me was the focus on revision of models. We've discussed in class the importance of model revision and how that helps students in learning to critique models while developing a deeper understanding of the content. Harlow et al stressed that effective teaching of modeling required teachers not to tell students the answer but to encourage them and facilitate opportunities for them to continue to revise their models. In our experiences as a class, I can see this as true especially with our final projects. In presenting our ideas to the class, we received feedback on our models that pushed us to consider revising some aspects of our model and continuing to dig deeper into other aspects. I can see how this is something that will allow our students to construct their own knowledge by digging deeply into the material and their model.

Another element of Harlow et al that stood out to me was the idea that knowledge can be accessed in both appropriate and inappropriate ways. We've talked quite a bit with respect to modeling and ADI about what resources we will provide our students with, and that's where I think accessing prior knowledge comes into play. If we are intentional about the materials we introduce and how we introduce them, we can access their prior knowledge in an appropriate way. However, if we don't know what student misconceptions might be or how they may be perpetuated than we run into situations where the resources we provide may actually be accessing knowledge inappropriately.

A third element of Harlow et al that stood out to me was the three problems preservice teachers face in getting off to a good start. Harlow et al says engaging students in science, organizing instruction, and understanding students' ideas are all things teachers need to understand to provide students with effective modeling instruction. We have discussed all three of these ideas at length in class. How do we create modeling activities for our students that are both meaningful and engaging? We want our students to be engaged and interested in science (that seems to be a unanimous theme), but how do we do that in meaningful ways? Organizing instruction also seems to be an idea we have talked about in pretty great detail. How do we plan our lessons and units so we tackle necessary standards but also have time for modeling opportunities? How do we prepare our kids to take high-stakes tests while still providing opportunities for authentic assessment? However, I don't know that we have talked quite as much about the link between organizing instruction and understanding student ideas. We hadn't talked about how we would outline a unit so it builds on student's prior knowledge, while allowing them to construct new and deeper knowledge, and allowing opportunities for misconceptions to be rectified. I'm assuming we'll discuss most of that next semester in our methods course though.

Matt's Harlow Response

I like how Harlow used some of the reservations of the undergrad students as a way to address the reservations of the educational community as a whole to scientific modeling. To be perfectly fair, most of the incredibly smart people I know today learned what they know in a very traditional, lecture style class, and it is very tempting to get into a "that's how dad did it" sort of mindset. That said, while lecture style classes may work for some students, it certainly may not work for all students, and even the students for whom it does work will certainly benefit even more so from being forced to think critically and creatively throughout the modeling process. I do not think, however, that all lectures are bad and that we as teachers should divorce ourselves completely from the traditional mode of teaching. There may be topics that don't necessarily lend themselves well to modeling, or there may be inadequate time to prepare a modeling activity (lectures are very easy after all), or some students may very well enjoy that form of learning more than any other.

Harlow's comments on scientific terminology were also pretty helpful (and relevant). As much as we may believe in the power of models, there is still a lot of cold hard information, identities and definitions that can't accurately be described conceptually, that students will have to learn. For example, there is no model that helps students arrive through discovery and creativity at the names of the organelles. I think it's easy to get gung ho about modeling without continuing to realize the importance of memorization and just knowing relevant information in any scientific endeavor.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Harlow and Connections Throughout the Course

I believe Harlow's article offers a new perspective that we have not yet read about but are experiencing ourselves in that we are learning how to incorporate modeling into our own science classrooms in the near future. Many articles have talked about the concept and practice of modeling at the beginning of the semester many of us questions the necessity, practicality, and feasibility of actually implementing modeling in our own classrooms. However, I like to think that we are more open and less constrained in our view of the future of modeling in science education than the undergraduate students interviewed in Harlow et al.'s study.

Harlow bases his approach on diSessa's idea of "knowledge in pieces" which is very useful in understanding the significance and impact small perspectives can have. I also think his approach to evaluating the four resources, (1) the teacher’s role is to provide the right answer, (2) guiding students is less certain than telling them (the right answer), (3) a good model includes scientific terms, and (4) children are creative thinkers, as either appropriate or inappropriate is a direct comparison to how student work can be judged- it does not always have to be right or wrong, but more importantly we should look at the students work and thought process to evaluate models. I think some of the concerns addressed in Harlow's are bigger questions about the role of teachers in general beyond the scope of modeling or even just science education that show a disconnect between ideologies and modern teaching. The notion that a teacher's role is to provide the right answer reflects the traditional thought that students are simply empty vessels that the teacher needs to fill with knowledge. However, the very first week of class we went over the NGSS Science Standards which place much more emphasis on student learning, initiative and being able to explain processes not just spit out facts taught by an "all-knowing" teacher. That is why is was a little surprising to me that student creativity was seen as a hindrance in some scenarios when I would regard student creativity and curiosity as a good thing to have in one's class. I think that negative view of creativity is a byproduct of the immense increase in testing which does not value out of the box thinking. Hopefully, as we discussed in class the focus on standardized tests will be shifted to truly emphasize more organic teaching and learning. With regards to modeling itself, I think the idea that guiding students is less certain than telling them is true-but that's why its called guidance. Previous articles have shown that students get much more out of modeling when they actually have to problem solve on their own. The last point the article touches on is the fact that some models were judged as more accurate with the more scientific terms. This premise is one that NGSS shifts the focus away from, while the terms are important student understanding is more valuable.

In our class discussion and own model making I think we have come very far in understanding the important role models can play and how we should begin to think about implementing models in our classroom. Harlow was a good reminder of our previous concern and how perceptions can change over time and further education.

Harlow paper

I thought the concept of p-prims was very interesting. It's a foreign word to me, but based on my understanding p-prims involve individual interpretation by students on certain phenomenon that may make much sense to themselves, but are in fact wrong. It's very similar to misconceptions, and I think it is one of the main purposes or means of effective science education is identifying and dispelling such misconceptions. Often we can do that through modeling, the types of which depending on the context. It also ties in with the authors' contention that student input should also be considered when formulating instructional sequence. Perhaps we can identify such p-prims early if we engage students in curriculum design. The authors maintain that students are creative thinkers, and it is the teacher's job to elicit that response through the use of modeling, of which there involves multiple revisions based on new understanding and data. I thought the idea that teachers should serve a guide to help students navigate through their own understanding and interpretation was telling. Another thing I liked about the paper was the focus on learning-about-learning, which would greatly help teacher effectiveness by unlearning old pedagogical methods we went through when we were students, and learning better instructional methods that we should use for science education.

Harlow Connections

Mikeska et a. identified three central ideas to science teaching: engaging students, organizing instruction, and understanding students' ideas. The interplay between these central ideas leads to difficulty in the classroom. Resources identified by Harlow et al. to be of pedagogical use in the classroom included teachers providing the correct answer, guiding students to the answer, models with scientific terms, and students as creative thinkers. Each resource, however, can be applied inappropriately. Since these resources can be use both appropriately and inappropriately, it is important to study the use of each resource.

The first pedagogical resource, giving away answers, discussed reminded me greatly of argument driven inquiry, for both recommend posing of questions rather than answering questions. Both ADI and Harlow et al. demonstrate that effective teachers are well-versed enough in their content area to inspire curiosity in students. It was found that telling students the right answer at the beginning or end of modeling lessons led to circumvent the lesson rather than supplementing it. Scientific concepts are both understood and retained less with explicit answer telling.

However, teachers can inspire this curiosity by both being able to answer any questions but also by being able to adapt their instruction to adapt to student thinking. Modeling is therefore difficult for beginner teachers because it requires constant adaptation whereas lectures can more prepared and less intimidating to new teachers. In other words, modeling requires teachers to both understand student ideas and to organize instruction, simultaneously. Implications from these crucial pedagogical resources stem from the need to build on top of students' ideas while at the same time organizing instruction. I can also understand how difficult it might be to remain confident that students will actually develop deep conceptual understanding through modeling and making predictions. Additionally, the type and amount of guidance provided is difficult to achieve.

The use of resources in learning, changing rather than eliminating, was another key tenant of this discussion. Creativity is key, but some teachers view creativity as a destructive force to scientific inquiry. However, creativity closely tied to science and should be welcomed into science classrooms. Harlow mentions how it can be useful to even explicitly say in the classroom that "creative thinking is a goal of science education" (1120).

The discussion of another pedagogical resource, scientific terminology, was very familiar to me. Many students of science view this discipline as a list of difficult facts to be memorized, and it will be teachers' jobs to undo this mentality in students. However, there is indeed a type of scientific language that needs to be fostered through modeling in the classroom. A big obstacle to many students' understanding is the misuse of scientific terminology. Teachers themselves can model correct use of scientific terms to help students develop scientific literacy.

John Skinner -- Harlow Response

One theme that stood out to me from the reading was the need for teachers to tap into prior knowledge in order to deepen students' understanding about course content and model construction. According to educational psychology, relating new content to a student's prior knowledge base can help them more readily integrate new material into existing mental schema. Thus, it will be useful to "figur[e] out how to use students' ideas to actually inform instruction" (p. 1118). The authors mention that student creativity can play a crucial role in model construction, given that often times, students may have the correct thinking about scientific processes without knowing the exact scientific terminology associated with it. By working with student's base models and adding scientific vocabulary and concepts to their creations, it allows students to take a more active role in methods of investigation and inquiry that are emphasized in the new NGSS standards. These investigations, followed by rounds of discussion and model revision, can help debunk the idea that a teacher's role is to provide students with correct answers without first letting them explore a scientific problem.

Another common theme that we have seen throughout the course is the explicit teaching of LAL, or learning about learning, to our students. The authors emphasize that by requiring students to think about the process of modeling, rather than just the concept that they are attempting to model, students metacognitive abilities can be scaffolded in the classroom. We have seen this idea of metacognition in model construction built into various computational modeling programs that we have read about, including "Betty's Brain" in VanLehn. By asking students to engage in various epistemic games (Hestenes) before beginning to construct a model, we can help our students analyze the accuracy, the behavioral mechanisms, and the essential components of an effective model.

In terms of learning to model as a class, the authors bring up a relevant point about teaching potential teachers about alternative pedagogical resources before they enter the work force. I find that a lot of our class work has encouraged us to directly engage in the processes we are learning to implement in science classrooms; instead of learning about these resources through formal study, we are learning about them through our own active participation in modeling strategies.

Friday, April 8, 2016

4/11 Connections

It was certainly an interesting read.  While I can certainly understand some of the sentiments the undergraduate students had (and, to some extent, I still have as well), there were just as many I disagreed with.  I think our own experience in the class reflects a certain attitude towards how to implement modeling logistically and the concepts that go into that.  This reading focused more on some of the philosophy of modeling that I certainly appreciated.

Of course, at its heart, this article was about how to properly educate children in science.  But I think what was particularly interesting was seeing the clash between more traditional values of science education versus the ideals of modeling.  Perhaps it needs more thought from me, but it seems that these traditional sentiments (i.e. the supremacy of the teacher, strict and structured lectures, and a focus on "fact") are incompatible with modeling in the classroom.  I think it was painfully clear that the students were stuck in a very traditional view of science education (and certainly understandable, as they presumably "turned out alright").  A focus on providing "right answers" and on "correct terminology", while to at least extent important, seemed to dominate their perspectives.

I think it's more apt to allow modeling in the classroom because, as we've discussed, science is more a state of mind than anything else.  Surely, there are tools we use to engage in science more effectively and skills that aid us in our understanding of the universe (such as the epistemic games we've discussed and knowledge of statistics), but these things represent refinements to the essential concept of science.  That is, to engage in science is to make connections, investigate and evaluate, and to look at the world in a critical way.  To learn, then, is to engage in science.  Because of this, it is an important use of class time to get students involved in the actual process of independent learning to improve the methods in which they look at the world and to motivate students to evaluate the world in the first place.

Worrying about whether or not students get the "right answer" out of class is certainly a valid concern, and the one I stuck to most.  Certainly as we've discussed in class, there is a value in being "correct" so to speak, or perhaps it would be more apt to say "accurate" or "useful in approximating a system".  Letting students take more control of a classroom, then, could represent a departure from truth or the use of significant amounts of class time to clear up misconceptions.  At the same time, I think the students bring up a valid point that letting teachers lead students too much defeats the purpose of modeling.  The question then is how to balance modeling with ensuring that students have accurate understandings of certain phenomena.  I think this primarily goes back to how teachers frame and support their student inquiry and how much time is devoted to allowing students to make their investigations.  Of course, I also have reservations about modeling in the classroom because of this, but I think even at my most critical moments I can accept modeling as a valuable way for students to "do" science in a system of education where it is not (or at least has not) been truly valued.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sampson and Glein Topic question

 My ADI question centers around lab NTSA's Mendelian Genetics. The question is A two part question the first deals with a typical phylogenic cross.  Male platypus  with grey fur is mated with a female containing   the same phenotype.  From their their progeny  15 babies  are grey, 6 are black and 8 are white. The second deals with what factors
a.   What is the simplest explanation for the inheritance of these colors in platy-pie?
b.   What offspring would you expect from the mating of a grey male  and a black female ? (Translated from K-State Model 5 Genetics)
 I think the first model I would use  is a functional analysis model  to tackle the question. The temporal stage model allows students to delve deeper into the environmental  factors that effect species genetic drift. Did a group move into an area that was  hot causing them to have lighter fur coats or did a group move to an environment with a heavier soil causing them to develop more of a spoon bill or a more point bill for harder gravel. These would then be accompanied by more of a tree model to determine how the progeny's fur color evolved from the  parents.

Good Models for ADI

I think all of the models discussed could be used in the classroom. Argument driven inquiry requires a little more than some of these models can offer alone but in conjunction I think they all hold value. Critical event analysis as well as cause and effect analysis are very well suited to ADI. They require you to pick a topic and derive an explanation which is very well suited for ADI. These models require the students to develop an argument and support it with facts. This could be used in almost any biology context. Every single lab the students will do requires them to perform an experiment and draw conclusions. Both of these models fit very well into this idea. A possible ADI question could be how CO2 emissions effect global warming. The students would do research to understand the effects of CO2 on the atmosphere. Functional analysis is also what biologists use every day so it stands to reason that it would fit in well with ADI. A possible question used in the classroom could be about almost any topic. I could ask what function rainfall plays in agriculture and students could learn how water amount affects plant growth and also how rainfall plays a functional role in any ecosystem. Students could model plant growth or animal population studies during a drought or heavy rain season. Information provided would be data about rainfall and population studies and the students could extrapolate what effects reduced food sources have on a population. Whether the data is real or hypothesized the students could draw conclusions based on research about the ecosystem and species in question. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Collins and Ferguson AdI

  • which model types (epistemic forms) would work well for ADI activities? Are there any types that wouldn’t work well. Choose two that would work well and create a possible adi question that would work well with a model of that type as the answer. Also describe the types of resources or activities you would provide to the students to answer the questions with the model.

To best answer the question at hand I believe the models that can give students/ teachers the best chance to complete the Adi objective are as follows.Certain elements of both the  list/ functional /and process analysis will work very well with this. Due to the purpose of the Adi activities focusing on argument driven inquiry . This is a very results driven model but a holistic model that allows students to go  from the driving question step by step to a final project and product.On the list side the    (primitive elements game)  allows students to compare many physical science. They may be useful in situations such as having to determine the next best planet to live on using conditions similar to earth. Students would then have to map out earths conditions such as barometric pressure,water supply,elements in the air,can  the planet sustain vast oil reserves? This gives students a side by side comparison that will allow them to make an informed decision. The next is the  tree structure  model. This particular type of model  adds more tables to list with less constraints. For instance for students to track the difference in Jewish population who develop tayssahcs disease over those who do not this is a good model to use.  The final epistemic game that I find most useful is the problem and cause and effect  applications. While both are classic examples they are so versatile and can be used in terms of blood typing to karayotyping. These models are simple and hone in on the central guiding question. A couple  epistemic games that were not found to work well were the axiom systems /multi casual. Both games were very complicated and seem to complex to  incorporate into any level under 11th to 12th grade.

I would pick the cause and effect model and combine that with a tree structure model to solve the driving question- What is the chance of a  progeny from a poly-dactylic  homozygous mother and  heterozygous father that their offspring will  have polydactlity. I would allow students to first research polydactillity. What is it? How can we find out what the traits are and if they skip generations/are concurrent in every generation. Male/ Female dominant how does this thing really work. Then I would encourage students to  make their punnet squares. To accurately chart their findings as a class .

ADI Questions and Models

The Collins paper gives several examples of different types of models that can be useful in answering ADI questions that amy be proposed to students in science education. It is imperative that one understands the overall concept of ADI in order to choose the type of models that may be useful in answering these type of questions. This, however, does not mean that there is a right or wrong model to use, it is simply a matter of choice for the individual who would use a particular model for a particular ADI question. In terms of the paper, there were two different models that I think would be useful in answering ADI questions, such as this example: "What type of biological vehicles do diseases need in order to be transmitted across a population?" 

1. Temporal/Stage Model: This model can be useful because it would allow students to show different biological vehicles that the students may present, such as blood or spit, that have been previously seen in the past with disease research to have transmitted a disease. Students would have access to different web and textbook resources that will give historical evidence to support the different biological vehicles that each student choose. Other activities that can be useful to give the students are different history lectures, videos, and podcasts that students can gain information from that would show the high levels of diseases in the past, how poorly the diseases were understood, and how the diseases were understood years later. 

2. Critical event analysis: Like the temporal/stage model, it offers that historical aspect that students would need in order to justify their answers chosen. The same activities would be available to the students, but the difference would be that students would have to understand that these type of model would be used to show how the biological vehicles lead to the cause of the chosen disease. 

These two models work extremely well for my example ADI question, but it does not necessarily mean that it would work well for a different question. This allows for a diverse usage of different models for different ADI questions.