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.

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