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Reflections of a Techie



Reflecting on using 21st century technologies to amplify learning.



Updated: 2017-03-27T07:00:00+00:00

 



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Using SEPs to push thinking in a simple lesson about energy types

2015-07-17T07:29:38-05:00

Evidence statements from NGSS (I'm going to call them ES after this) are big gnarly layer that I need to add onto my understanding. My biggest ah-ha came as I realized that most statements are given through the lens of...Evidence statements from NGSS (I'm going to call them ES after this) are big gnarly layer that I need to add onto my understanding. My biggest ah-ha came as I realized that most statements are given through the lens of the SEPs.  I knew from designing 2015-2016 lessons that all 3 dimensions were important and I believe that SEPs are the way to creating lasting knowledge for my students.  But now the ES are giving me a better handle on just how this will look in the classroom. My first unit is on Energy  UNIT 1: ENERGY   Definitions of Energy Potential and Kinetic Energy Conservation of Energy Energy Transfer And we have these basic learning targets.  We've designed the unit to start off looking at MS PS 3-1 which defines the basic forms of energy while learning how to use math to study these types.  I think I'm lucky because I've also taught math and it makes sense to me to use graphs to show how all the variables are related.  I'm also lucky because our district's math curriculum spends gobs of time talking about direct and indirect relationships.  So when the ES elaborate in this way,  it totally makes sense to me. I actually think using something like Geometer's Sketchpad would make this easy.  Why? Because you can easily manipulate the variables so the you could change speed and mass and actually observe what happens to the line.  From doing enough examples, students would easily be able to discern the patterns of change.  That pattern would reveal the proportionality of this relationship. It does bring up an important question.  I believe it's a huge shift in thinking to have students realize that a graph actually represents something in the world.  Getting them to trust that they can look at the graph and play around with it and learn something about how the speed and mass of the car varies on the ramp.  It's a big leap of faith for them. Once they make it, though....well, you've got them hooked for the whole year.  I also see a heavy role for formative assessment here.  I think I can build a Sketchpad they can access through their devices and they can manipulate it.  I wonder if I can create formative questions they would have to answer and then have them build screencasts to explain what they've learned.  Even if the explanation was wrong, the class discussion would reveal that and then we could talk about how the explanation would have to shift or change to accurately reflect what the graph was communicating. Gobs of complex learning is involved....explanations, discussion, evaluating evidence, interpreting evidence, using math to answer questions, trusting the classroom culture enough to be wrong and willing to accept revisions, being respectful, being brave to experiment with something that is probably a unique experience, being able to write about it in their science journals.  Does anyone think teaching science is easy?  If they do, they clearly haven't considered all that goes into this that is well beyond the actual science standard. And that's what the ES are pushing teachers towards, don't you think? So lots of talk.  Lots of documenting what they're thinking and using that documentation to help them realize that math helps understand science.  It's also a big help to see the ES because they confirm my own professional understanding and help me transition to the 3D style of teaching science.     [...]



2 Tweaks later: Changing a publisher lesson into 3D NGSS learning

2015-06-11T06:15:28-05:00

Yesterday was pure pleasure having the whole day to work with fellow 8th grade teachers. First we learned how to use new @CPOScience equipment---the energy car which has an amazing setup for investigating Newton's Laws. When we talked about the...Yesterday was pure pleasure having the whole day to work with fellow 8th grade teachers.  First we learned how to use new @CPOScience equipment---the energy car which has an amazing setup for investigating Newton's Laws. When we talked about the data, it was clear this would provide more than enough evidence for students to understand the relationship between force and speed AND force and mass. Then we started wondering.... How do we take this fabulous lesson and turn it into a 3D NGSS lesson? Fortunately the publisher has already chosen a PE (MS PS2-1) and thoughtfully put the familiar blue, orange and green boxes on the beginning page of the investigation.  Plus the science was rock solid and incrementally led students to gather data, reason and have to explain what they witnessed. What was missing was the guiding questions from the get-go? With two fabulous colleagues to brainstorm with, we realized that the only tweak this lab needed was two small tweaks. # 1 Tweak-------Since the focus of this PE was systems, why not have students before they start the lab sketch the system they will use to test out their ideas, labels the parts of the system and trace the energy flow they anticipate seeing?  We can quickly review what they have drawn and discuss ideas as a whole class before we start.  They can recycle back to the diagram to check their understanding and make any needed changed once they are finished. Wasn't that easy? Voila! 2nd dimension added. #2 Tweak----The publisher had great describe and explain questions.  But knowing 8th graders as we do, we will edit the questions to say something like "Use your CER strategy" instead of explain or describe.  Eventually we want students to automatically assume explain and describe mean CER, but since this lab comes so early in the year, we feel like we'll need to be more explicit. Wasn't that easy too?  Voila again!  3rd dimension added. #3 Bonus Tweak--- We started talking about how you grade something like this.  And the question came up, what do we really want students to walk away knowing and remembering.  From there we wondered if using the lab as a formative assessment wasn't a better idea.  Instead of grading it, as we traditionally would have done, why not have students peer review the lab results and we could have another class discussion. Once all that was done, we could pick several student samples to use for the summative assessment.  Students would have to annotate those reports and analyze them, write another CER using the new data and make recommendations on where and how those explain/describes could be improved or where the example analysis went wrong. Instead of grading the lab writeup itself, we would be extracting the big idea(which circles back to integrating the DCI and CCC) while using the SEP of writing clear explanations on the summative. Our final voila! I could have never thought up all of this.  It was so much easier, professionally energizing and fun to work with colleagues who want students to fall in love with science while learning something. What do you think?  Was this easy?  We think it takes the lesson to the place that the NGSS spirit leads us.  Do you agree? Photocredit---Christie Purdon Related articles 6 Things about Building 3D Learning Catch a Wave with Slo Motion [...]



6 Things about Building 3D Learning

2015-06-09T08:50:20-05:00

6 Things about Building 3D Learning Finding that initiating event and writing a probe to uncover what they already know is proving to be a huge challenge. I think I'm on revision 3 or 4. This highlights where I could...
6 Things about Building 3D Learning

Finding that initiating event and writing a probe to uncover what they already know is proving to be a huge challenge. I think I'm on revision 3 or 4.

This highlights where I could probably be more effective and efficient if I had teacher colleagues to brainstorm with. That's a bit tricky when you work in a school where you are the only teacher at that grade level.




6 Things about Building 3D Learning

2015-06-03T06:15:55-05:00

Building a 3D learning experience is a blast but it's a tough mental challenge. Thoroughly read the Framework to make sure you understand the concept and the progression of the idea throughout the grade bands. Supplement your reading with a...Building a 3D learning experience is a blast but it's a tough mental challenge. Thoroughly read the Framework to make sure you understand the concept and the progression of the idea throughout the grade bands.  Supplement your reading with a viewing of Bozeman's video on the same topic. Search through NSTA's magazine archives(The Learning Center) to see if someone way smarter than me has written an article about how to build a unit or lesson.  It's way easier to start with a seed of an idea and customize it to my circumstances. Look to see if publisher of textbook has any good ideas.  Normally, for me, they don't unless the lesson I'm planning is a tried and true thing we've done for decades.  Let's be honest, the publishers are no further along in writing NGSS aligned lessons than we are (we being the teachers out in the wild teaching in a science classroom everyday). Figure out what concepts (Science & Engineering Practices, CrossCutting Concepts and DCIs) I want to cover and see throughout my instruction. Build an engaging initial event so I can gauge student interest, their misconceptions and what they already know.  The AAAS Assessment resource comes in super handy for this unless you have all misconceptions memorized.  It has shortcomings too because not all topics are available in the database.  I also digital thumb through the Page Keeley probes and see what's there that is relevant and useful.  Probably look at Concord Consortium and PheT to see what applies, if anything. Find a terrific hook back into student world, so it connects to something they've just seen, heard about, maybe wondered about or listened to. Now I'm ready to start writing the unit's essential question and the summative evaluation based on the standard.  Phew. [...]



Catch a Wave with Slo Motion

2015-04-29T06:50:20-05:00

Can you catch the properties of a wave using slo motion? Sure high brow universities and high schools have the equipment to do such things. What about a middle school? Building oscillators in science today and students were faced with...Can you catch the properties of a wave using slo motion?   Sure high brow universities and high schools have the equipment to do such things.  What about a middle school?  Building oscillators in science today and students were faced with a problem.  How to measure one cycle's worth of motion. My oldster thinking thought stopwatch to find the wave's period. Their youngster thinking thought use the cellphone's camera in slow motion!               Here's an example of what they photographed.  This is a screenshot of a video. You'll have to look very closely to see the wave as it hits the bottom of its cycle in the photo.   Once we realized we could see this, then we had to figure out how we measure what was happening.                  My challenge had been to measure the original period of your oscillator and then figure out a way to increase it and decrease it. Here's the tweet we sent out as students came to understand how to do this.  Fortunately I still had some usefulness.....if we knew the rate of frames that the video captured and they counted how many it took to go from the top to the bottom, they could then calculate the time it took to do one complete cycle by doubling it.  We're well on our way to being able to answer what kinds of patterns does a wave have which will help us understand how to build mathematical models of waves.  Hurray for NGSS asking us to undertake this task (MS PS4) Cracks me up.  We did problems like this in the textbook.  Now we were living the problems in a real life setting.  Here's the tweet we sent out as we realized how to gather this data.  Ss solved prb of no photo gates. Took vid with phone, slowly counted frames & could accurately find waves period. pic.twitter.com/8iYRZJYr6t — ratzelster (@ratzelster) April 28, 2015 Even though we're not equipped with fancy science classroom equipment, we still figured out how to do it.   Gotta feel like this is a good example of co-creating knowledge with students.  I had some of the pieces of knowledge and they had others.  Together we had a solution. My 8th graders can catch a wave and define it's properties. [...]