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.

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