Tag Archives: science lesson

Authentic Learning with Nature

Through the readings from this past week, I have explored a seemingly disjointed array of ideas. Following is a brief overview:

Carraher, Carraher and Schliemann (1985) present the effect of contextualized learning on mental math computation processes with street vendor children in Brazil; Falk and Storksdieck (2010) share results from their study on adult leisure science learning at the California Science Center in Los Angeles; Butler and MacGregor (2003) provide an in-depth explanatory overview of the GLOBE program designed to enable “authentic science learning, student-scientist partnership, and inquiry-based pedagogy into practice on an unprecedented scale” (p.17)! Although these three readings are diverse in study and purpose, one significant theme pronounced itself throughout: the theme of contextualized learning. Regardless of the age of learner, socio-economical position, or location on this great planet, contextualized learning offers authenticity of learning and effective growth in both content areas and competencies.

When considering authentic learning, I like to refer to Herrington and Kervin’s (2007) definition:

      The nine characteristics of authentic learning include:

  1.     Authentic context that reflects the way knowledge will be used in real life.
  2.     Authentic activities that reflect types of activities that are done in the real world over a sustained period of time.
  3.     Expert performance to observe tasks and access modelling.
  4.     Multiple Roles and Perspectives to provide an array of opinions and points of view.
  5.     Reflection to require students to reflect upon knowledge to help lead to solving problems, making predictions, hypothesizing and experimenting.
  6.     Collaboration to allow opportunities for students to work in pairs or in small groups.
  7.     Articulation to ensure that tasks are completed within a social context.
  8.     Coaching and Scaffolding by the teacher in the form of observing, modelling and providing resources, hints, reminders and feedback.
  9.     Integrated Authentic Assessment throughout learning experiences on a task that the student performs i.e. project rather than on separate task i.e. test.

     (Herrington & Kervin, 2007)

Although all of these characteristics of learning are not prominently practiced in the networked communities explored during this past week, many, if not all, can be emphasized through teacher design by incorporating a combination of non-technology based and network community activities.

The follow learning outline is designed using the network community called Journey North along with other on-going non-technology nature study activities. As an individual and an educator who advocates for regular nature study as a part of one’s life, the Journey North community peeked my interest as a very viable resource to integrate with already implemented nature study practices with students from grades K-4. I have chosen two projects at Journey North that could be easily implemented with my younger distance learning students. Following is a chart with resources and activities aligned with the authentic characteristics of learning as described by Herrington et al. (2007).





Butler, D.M., & MacGregor, I.D. (2003). GLOBE: Science and education. Journal of Geoscience Education, 51(1), 9-20.
Carraher, T. N., Carraher, D. W., & Schliemann, A. D. (1985). Mathematics in the streets and in schools. British journal of developmental psychology, 3(1), 21-29. 
Falk, J. & Storksdieck, M. (2010). Science learning in a leisure setting. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(2), 194-212.
Herrington, J. & Kervin, L. (2007). Authentic Learning Supported by Technology: Ten suggestions and cases of integration in classrooms.  Educational Media International, 44 (3), 219-236. doi: 10.1080/09523980701491666

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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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Filed under Implementing Technology, Inquiry, WISE