Sunday, April 17, 2016

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.

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