Category Archives: Implementing Technology

Plate Tectonics: Reshaping the Ground Below Us

Web-based Science Inquiry Environment (WISE)

Project: Plate Tectonics – 

Renamed: Plate Tectonics: Reshaping the Ground Below Us – ID 19738

WISE is theoretically based on the Scaffolded Knowledge Integration network (SKI) which includes the following four tenets: 1) accessibility to science, 2) making knowledge visible, 3) learning from others and 4) promoting autonomy (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2003). In piecing together a unit study for middle school students (grade 6-8), incorporating these four tenets of SKI into the non-technology based areas of learning is intentional to enhance visibility of knowledge and opportunities for peer review and critique. The WISE Plate Tectonic project is being used as a final assignment within a geology unit based on the structure of the earth, the surface of the earth, plate tectonics, and earthquakes and volcanoes. A few authorship changes have been made to the Plate Tectonic project mainly to include a Canadian perspective. These changes include the addition of Canadian map images showing placement of volcanoes, earthquakes and mountain ranges, along with appropriate text. As well, small alterations have occurred in the subtitles of the lesson outline.

The geology unit includes three resources, two non-technology based texts and one project from WISE. The two non-technology based resources that have been chosen are faith-based resources as the school that I work for is an independent religious school. The Geology Book by Dr. John D. Morris is a textbook, but includes detailed and colourful diagrams illustrating the inside of the earth and side views of how the earth’s surface is formed. A Child’s Geography: Volume 1 by Ann Voskamp includes conversational style writing, hands-on activities, real world extensions and a living book list of extension readings. Talking about thinking is incorporated into both of these resources through oral narrations, discussions and the sharing of written work for peer critique. Learning is made visible through notebooking and hands-on model making.The table below illustrates the order of the unit with how resources will be completed in conjunction with each other.

In designing this unit, the four tenets of SKI are intentionally incorporated in addition to, or through the use of each resource. These four tenets provide a framework for students to work through an inquiry process as described in Inquiry and the National Educational Standards with students thinking “about what we know, why we know, and how we have come to know” (Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education, 2000, p.6). Linn, Clark and Slotta (2013) more specifically define inquiry “as engaging students in the intentional process of diagnosing problems, critiquing experiments, distinguishing alternatives, planning investigations, revising views, researching conjectures, searching for information, constructing models, debating with peers, communicating to diverse audiences, and forming coherent arguments” (p.518). The following table analyses each of the three resources and aligns them with the four tenets of SKI as well as the inquiry processes described by Linn, Clark and Slotta in the above definition.

Scaffolded Integration Knowledge Network Processes of Inquiry Geology Unit Resource
Accessibility to Science – {content, relevancy, real-life application} Diagnosing problems

Planning investigations

Revising views

Researching conjectures

Searching for information

WISE Plate Tectonics
Researching conjectures

Searching for information

Revising views

The Geology Book
Revising views

Researching conjectures

Searching for information

A Child’s Geography
Making Thinking Visible Constructing models

Communicating to diverse audiences

Forming coherent arguments

WISE Plate Tectonics
Constructing models The Geology Book
Constructing models A Child’s Geography
Learning From Others Diagnosing problems

Critiquing experiments

Distinguishing alternatives

Revising views

Debating with peers

WISE Plate Tectonics
Critiquing by peers

Revising views

The Geology Book
Critiquing by peers

Revising views

A Child’s Geography
Promote Autonomy Diagnosing problems

Critiquing experiments

Distinguishing alternatives

Planning investigations

Revising views

Researching conjectures

Searching for information

WISE Plate Tectonics
Researching conjectures

Searching for information

Critiquing by peers

Revising views

The Geology Book
Researching conjectures

Searching for information

Critiquing by peers

Revising views

A Child’s Geography

Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education. (2000) Inquiry and the national science education standards. Washington, DC: Author.
Linn, M. C., Clark, D. and Slotta, J. D. (2003), WISE design for knowledge integration . Sci. Ed., 87: 517–538. doi:10.1002/sce.10086
Slotta, J. D. & Linn, M. C. (in press). WISE Science: Inquiry and the Internet in the Science Classroom. Teachers College Press. Retrieved from https://edx-lti.org/assets/courseware/v1/634b53c10b5a97e0c4c68e6c09f3f1b6/asset-v1:UBC+ETEC533+2016W2+type@asset+block/WISEBookCh1-30209.pdf
Web-based Inquiry Science Environment.(1996-2016). Retrieved from https://wise.berkeley.edu/

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Video Cases – A Synthesis

It is Teacher E (Case 8), the science instructor of teacher candidates, who summarizes well educational technology as it weaves itself through many of the case video samples. He asserts that technology use within the classroom should be used to enhance student learning and should be integrated with other subject content. These goals of technology use can be seen throughout the case videos, as both students and teachers share that their experience with technology enables students to understand content more easily and more in depth. Although ideally, technology should be integrated with other subject areas, students and teachers admit that there is a significant learning curve that occurs in order to efficiently and meaningfully use the technology. In Case 2, Teacher M communicates that he introduces the graphing calculator to students in grade eight. By the time the students are enrolled in grade eleven, they are able to use the technology to learn content, rather than use time to learn the technology. In Case 3, a grade 12 Physics student admits that it took her a year to move through the frustration of learning the new technology. However, now that she has developed the necessary skills to implement the technology, she is able to complete the learning more easily and with a deeper understanding. This understanding is evident through her engagement and problem solving abilities within the video.

In Case 1, a reference is made to the New BC Curriculum that is beginning to be implemented in 2016/17 for grades 10-12. One of the teachers mentions that the Content of the new curriculum is the topics through which to practice the Competencies. As the Physics 12 teacher (Case 3) describes technology as evolving his teaching from being transmissive to transactive, this idea of practicing the competencies through using technology, while gaining a deeper understanding of content is highly evident. Students are collaborating with peers who are not necessarily their friends, managing their time and resources, problem solving and integrating technology appropriately – all of these activities are considered both competencies and important life skills!

A final observation is that of the educators who are implementing technology within their learning spaces. There is almost a tangible enthusiasm expressed through the screen as they share about the activity occurring among their students. All of these educators are experienced educators with at least a decade of teaching experience, and all of them have been willing to invest in learning meaningful technology either on their own, through collaboration with other teachers, or through professional development opportunities. These educators were willing to take risks and challenge the status quo of a traditional learning space. They faced challenges, but were willing to work through the challenges, viewing them as part of the learning process and keeping a positive perspective. Conversely, most of the preservice teachers and new teachers shared hesitant or even negative perspectives on using technology in significant ways in their classroom. The two most common reasons for hesitancy were lack of knowledge regarding the technology – how to implement and how to problem solve, and the amount of time necessary to teach students how to use the technology efficiently and effectively. I found this interesting because I would have assumed that the newer, and typically younger, teachers would be more capable and confident in exploring new technology than older teachers, but this is not evident within the videos, overall.

 

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