Adventures with Velocity Girl and Accelerato

The article by Linn, Clarke and Slotta (2002) WISE Design for Knowledge integration discusses a Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE). “WISE integrates modern technologies to create flexibly adaptive materials that bend, not break when customized to support new school contexts and state standards. We align professional development, knowledge integration, and flexibly adaptive curricula to build on the commitments and talents of teachers as well as the constraints and opportunities of their classroom contexts rather than imposing new practices without concern for past successes (e.g. Corcoran, Shields, & Zucker, 1998; NSTA, 1996, 2001) (p. 518).”

The WISE framework incorporates the use of scaffolded knowledge integration (SKI) to accomplish the following goals: 1) make thinking visible, 2) make science accessible, 3) students learn from each other, and 4) promote lifelong learning. 

I chose to adapt the WISE module Hanging With Friends (ID: 4) This project helps students integrate verbal, animated, and algebraic representations of velocity. Students interact with 3 dynamic models that help students relate velocity, position, and time. Students apply this knowledge to solve a real-world problem (Module Description).

This project was slated for grades 6-8, having taught all the grades in this range I felt that I needed to adapt the introduction of the unit. The WISE version immediately jumps in with having students try to define or explain the difference between speed and velocity. In my experience students, would not be able to do this without prior information and while they could make an educated guess the second activity does not address any misconceptions the students may have. (Most staff members I asked to explain the difference faltered).

My adaptations included the introduction of videos that explain motion and velocity at a grade 6-8 students level. These included Bill Nye the Science Guy, Dr. Skateboard and Physics Motion Lessons in a straight line. I then included an activity where students could change their definitions of speed and velocity (addressing any misconceptions they may have had). After these introductory lesson changes, I then included a try it yourself activity where students (in partners) used stop watches and measured distances to solve the equations.

My final adaptation to the WISE unit was to create a final culminating activity that would have students use stop watches and measured distances (outdoors) to look at the concepts when someone is walking, running, on a bike and on a skateboard. Once the calculations have been made students could graph their findings using the GAFE’s. Once they have done the calculations and created the graph the final step would be for them to video record themselves explaining their process, their results and what they can conclude from the experiment as well as how they could apply this in a new situation.

This final activity incorporates the TPACK framework of Mishra and Koehler (2006), the scaffolding of information (SKI) as well as the co-operative effect of students working in pairs and discussing their findings and questions. [This is noted as an important pedagogical technique by Gobert, Snyder and Houghten (2002) they state as educators we need to “Make science accessible for all students where accessibility has two meanings: to engage students in problems that they find personally relevant, and to engage students at an appropriate level of analysis and explanation, rather than load them down with abstract scientific models of phenomena which do not readily connect with students’ ideas (p. 2).”]

I could see using many of the WISE projects with the grade six to eight population. Many of the modules I looked at were self-directed enough and novel enough to allow students to investigate without much prior knowledge. I think the grade 6-8 students would also enjoy some of the human-interest modules like Make a Better Cancer Medicine, Who Inherits Cystic Fibrosis and Ocean Bottom Trawling.
Catherine

References:

http://wise.berkeley.edu/teacher/management/library.html

Gobert, J., Snyder, J., & Houghton, C. (2002, April). The influence of students’ understanding of models on model-based reasoning. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), New Orleans, Louisiana. This is a conference paper. Retrieved conference paper Saturday, October 29, 2013 from: http://mtv.concord.org/publications/epistimology_paper.pdf

Linn, M., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. (2003). Wise design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. The Teachers College Record, 108(6), 1017-1054

6 comments

  1. Hi Catherine,

    These are novel instructional methods integrated with WISE. As your post alludes WISE is not intended to tutor the student alone: “I then included an activity where students could change their definitions of speed and velocity (addressing any misconceptions they may have had). After these introductory lesson changes, I then included a try it yourself activity where students (in partners) used stop watches and measured distances to solve the equations.” What are your thoughts on the integration of the symbol systems inherent in the “verbal, animated, and algebraic representations of velocity” in terms of scaffolding student learning? Thank you for your inclusion of the Gobert paper and additional ideas on projects to try, Samia

    1. Hi Samia,
      You hit on one area that I introduce really slowly ( and honestly at the grade 6-8 level some never get past using the very simple representations); the integration of the symbol systems inherent in the “verbal, animated, and algebraic representations of velocity” in terms of scaffolding student learning? I begin with using words only or easily represented algebra like V=Velocity but it is not until we have used the words for a while that I introduce things like delta.
      For example, I would have students write the words velocity, change in, distance and time until they see and understand what is being calculated, I judge this by the student’s ability to explain their understanding to me. After we have dealt with the terms for a while I start introducing the algebra. I would spend a few days saying “Change in (or in math and science terms Delta)”, and slowly morph over to using Delta. That way students understand the change from words to symbols and simple verbal cues to more scientific. I have found doing it this way really helps solidify their understanding and they are not just throwing around a bunch of jargon they do not understand. Most students have said it is helpful and that even as they write delta they say to themselves, change in.
      Hope this helps explain my process,
      Catherine

      1. Hi Catherine!
        I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this project as well as the changes you have proposed. I especially liked the verbal explanation part as it coincides with one of the goals of the WISE project when they discuss ” WISE Draw & Flipbook Animator: Students create drawings, take snapshots to create animation frames, and play back their flipbook-style animations. In doing so, students are guided to translate their arguments into different representational forms”. As per your final activity when students express information from one from to another (in this case observational information into verbal information) their thinking is visible and it touches upon higher order of thinking on the bloom’s taxonomy.

        Thanks for sharing,
        Vibhu

  2. Hi Catherine,
    I enjoyed reading about the adaptations you have made to the existing WISE project, “Hanging With Friends” (ID: 4). I found your comment that “the WISE version immediately jumps in with having students try to define or explain the difference between speed and velocity” interesting, as I had similar findings in most projects I viewed, including the project I chose to modify. I feel that in the past, I have done what many of the projects seem to do, which is jumped in without giving enough consideration to misconceptions or the potential lack of prior knowledge of my students. The longer I teach, and with the help of this course, I am increasingly aware of both the need to access prior knowledge before ‘jumping in’ as well as the fairly incredible number of misconceptions my students actually may have.

    I really like your ideas for the culminating activity which sounds like it will be very engaging for students, as well as incorporating content from across the curriculum, providing clear application of learned knowledge, and emphasizing the incorporation of collaboration skills. When I began actually considering how many curriculum content areas would be hit with this one project, it is pretty impressive! Especially with the incorporation of physical activity, digital technology, and oral presentation skills (in addition to everything else!). Well done!

  3. Hi Catherine,

    I like your GAFE connection…I was also thinking the WISE platform would fit well with the use of Google Classroom. Incorporating video into the lessons would also be important. I find it grabs the attention of many students and is another way to engage different learners, and can be used as an effective introduction. I appreciate your variety of student activities to not only teach to a variety of learning styles but to also provide a variety of opportunities for the learning to sink in. I also appreciated your reminder about how we must not assume prior knowledge, it is definitely class based and should be treated as such.

    Allison

  4. Hi Catherine,
    I was also surprised with the grade level designation on the lessons that were labelled for Middle School. Knowing what I do with my Physics 11 students, and the difficulties that 16 year olds encounter with understanding slope, I thought that the Middle School projects were a bit advanced— at least for a typical Canadian curriculum. What I like most about your alterations is that you have included a physical lab component that makes the concepts literally “hands on”. The best thing about teaching physics for me is that so much of it can be related to our every day lives— we have all moved at constant velocities and so forth! Cheers, Dana

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