Monthly Archives: June 2017

Padlet to the Rescue: Taking Action to Reduce Plastic in the Ocean

I chose to look at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (13220) as this was one of the topics explored in one of my units of inquiry this year under sharing the planet. The video links were appropriate for students, and the mockumentary was very engaging. What I really liked about this WISE project was that it was carefully scaffolded to look at the elements in the GPGP, such as the plastic, the environment, and what can be done. For me the most important part of the learning cycle is when students take action, and consolidate their learning by making meaningful change. Therefore, I decided to include a padlet which allowed students to post ideas of what they can/did do to reduce the amount of plastic in their own lives. This was divided into thirds, an area for students to discuss their home, school and community levels. Students could also use the padlet to post links to videos, twitter, or other social media accounts that document examples of how they have taken action from their learning to make a difference.

These WISE projects follow the constructivist model of learning, where students are given the opportunity to make meaning of their learning throughout each phase of the project. As stated in the article, “The Power of Feedback” Hattie and Timperly note that “Feedback is among the most critical influences on student learning. A major aim of the educative process is to assist in identifying these gaps and to provide remediation in the form of alternative or other steps” Feedback is only part of the equation, when students are given time to discuss their thoughts along with the teacher misconceptions and guideposts are provided. Students then have a better understanding of where they are going next in the learning journey. However, the authors also note that providing feedback is much a skill that requires practice, and the importance of feedback and assessment are no different. Hattie and Timperly point out that, “Feedback can only build on something; it is of little use when there is no initial learning or surface information.” Therefore, understanding what the goal of the learning process must drive instruction.



Hattie, H. & Timperly, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112.

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

Williams, M. Linn, M.C. Ammon, P. & Gearhart, M. (2004). Learning to teach inquiry science in a technology-based environment: A case study. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13(2), 189-206.

Cooling Off! – Collaborating towards new ideas

The WISE project I chose to delve into and edit was the ‘Global Climate Change and Ozone’ project. Through the various activities, it has students examine the effects of energy on the Earth’s temperature, considering the Earth’s future in regards to climate change and what humans can do to protect the climate. It is designed for grade 6-8 students with a decent ability in the English language, since it involves quite a bit of vocabulary with little explanation and many opportunities for writing out ideas. The lessons are well designed in that they make thinking visible, using challenge questions and branching tools to connect and test their ideas. They also make science accessible through the scope and grain size of each of the activities, as these are “important to the process of knowledge integration” (Linn et al., 2003). I also found this project to promote lifelong learning, as students are able to continually think about the material presented as it applies to their daily lives.

This project, however, was lacking considerably in having students learn from one another through collaboration and reflection activities. Therefore, in editing this project, I wanted to provide greater opportunities for collaboration between peers and teachers. I also wanted to deepen the connections students were making throughout, by first assessing their prior knowledge (as well as self-assessing). What were the misconceptions students were walking into this unit with? What had been their experience with climate change? In the introduction, I added a brainstorm page, where students could add their personal experiences and knowledge anonymously, without judgement, while also adding comments to other students’ comments. For the teacher, this would help establish where students are at with their understanding, allowing the teacher to guide them in alternative directions if need be. Further on, I added an idea basket that I really liked from the ‘What makes a good cancer medicine’ project. This way, as students built their knowledge, they would be encouraged at various points to jot their ideas down. Later they are asked to debate between two students’ ideas on climate change. This idea basket, along with an explanation builder, would support their learning and prevent misconceptions from resurfacing.

Finally, I wanted students to deepen their connections between what they had learned of the content of climate change and their personal choices and action towards protecting the Earth’s climate. I also wanted to further the accessibility piece by removing the language aspect from the final page. Therefore, I used the draw tool to allow students to illustrate their new understandings based on a prompt by any means they saw fit.



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


Space colony – a collaborative learning experience

I decided to look at the project “Space Colony! Genetic diversity and survival” (ID 175). In this project, the students are challenged to consider genetic mutations, diversity, and cloning as they decide how to colonize three different planets. I like this lesson as it challenges students to think about a variety to topics as they work through their challenge. Despite the number of topics, I believe it was presented in a very logical manner. What I thought was missing from this lesson was one of the tenets of SKI, which is learning from others (Linn, 2003). This component is something i really liked in some of the other projects that I viewed (such as the one on cystic fibrosis). So I built pages after the open ended questions to have students share their ideas/answers. Then a page on ideas/answers from others that they decided to copy (with explanations on why they wanted to copy them, or what about that idea really appealed to them) and finally a page that allows students to sort their ideas (both their own and from peers) and resubmit their answer to the original open ended question. I also had them reflect on whether or not their ideas changed and if so, for them to justify their changes. I felt that this addition promoted learning from others, as well as reflection on their own thoughts, and would support students as they actively constructed knowledge on these topics.

I felt this WISE project had all the other tenants of SKI (Linn, 2003), which are:
1. making learning accessible
2. making thinking visible
3. promote autonomy/life long learning

In regards to making learning accessible, despite talking about topics at the cellular and genetic level, they always tied to back to something students can relate to, such as siblings, twins, etc. They also brought in real life examples, such as “Dolly”, the first cloned sheep.

Throughout the lesson, they either asked open ended questions or multiple choice questions to gauge student understanding of concepts. This makes learning visible, increasing teacher awareness of students thoughts and diversity. They also incorporated a few simulations and great visuals to help students understand complex phenomena.

Finally, the project is organized in such a way that students learn the process of inquiry, which promotes autonomy in learning. I really liked the logical flow that this project has, and the final wrap up which brings all the concepts back together in the end. As such, I think I would run the project as it is presented, with just the added component of collaboration/learning from peers.

1. Linn MC, Clark D, Slotta JD. WISE design for knowledge integration. Science Education. 2003;87(4):517-538. doi:10.1002/sce.10086.

What Impacts Global Climate Change?

I decided to explore the ‘What Impacts Global Climate Change” WISE project. The lesson is designed for grade 6-8 students and requires 4 – 5 hours. It explores how human actions affect global climate change. The lesson is carefully designed and constantly requires students to revisit and update their understanding. It provides continual descriptive feedback to learners and gives them multiple attempts to adapt their thinking. It was something that I thought I would be able to adapt for a slightly younger audience. It is also something that I know a lot of my students typically have some prior knowledge about but also a lot of misconceptions. Students “bring to science class multiple conflicting views of scientific phenomena, often tied to specific contexts, examples, experiences, or situations” (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2003). I began by trying to make the lesson more connected to the prior knowledge of my learners. A portion of the lesson was about how local changes can represent evidence of climate change. The project used information about Bengal Tigers. I chose to replace the topic of this portion of the lesson to the changes happening to the habitats of polar bears and northern communities. I thought that students in my setting would be able to connect with the issue in a deeper way with these topics, as they are familiar topics of study.  Designing “contexts for problems that connect to students’ personal concerns can motivate students to reconsider and revisit their ideas long after science class is over” (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2003). I added a link to a WWF Polar Bear tracker to see the movements of bears in Churchill, Manitoba. Students can choose animals to follow and see how scientists monitor bears and collect information about how changes are affecting their habitat and well being. I also added a video about local changes changing habitats and local communities.

I also noticed that many of the responses students were required to give throughout the lesson were done through writing. I wanted to make the project more accessible for a wider range of learners so added a draw step into the “How does the Sun warm Earth” section. This would allow students to represent their thinking through drawing instead of text. It allows them to create multiple frames and create a short movie clearly demonstrating steps in a process. I also embedded several flash games that connected to sections regarding how human actions affect climate change to create a more interdisciplinary investigation. I found a flash game that allows the player to offset emissions by making positive changes. I would connect this to the concept of a carbon tax which is a common current topic in the media. This could serve as an extension research activity that students can engage in with less support. It is “essential to assess the ongoing state of students’ knowledge in order to bridge their capacity to inquire and to fade support as students learn to accomplish their problem-solving goals without scaffolds” (Kim, & Hannafin, 2011).

Kim, M. C., & Hannafin, M. J. (2011). Scaffolding problem solving in technology-enhanced learning environments (TELEs): Bridging research and theory with practice. Computers & Education56(2), 403-417.

Linn, M. C., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. D. (2003). WISE design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538. doi:10.1002/sce.10086

Rita’s swim – A WISE activity for high school math students

While attempting to edit the Amusement Park Challenge, I managed to find an activity inside that was hidden. It was an activity called Rita’s Swim. One modification I’d add to the Amusement Park Challenge is to activate Rita’s Swim, and make it part 2 of the Amusement Park Challenge activity.

The modified Amusement Park Challenge can be found here:

To summarize the activity, part 1, or the Amusement Park Challenge, requires the student to inquire about the tenets of safe/thrilling amusement park ride. The student will then have to construct distance vs. time graphs for either a safe/thrilling amusement park ride. The activity concludes with each student sharing their ride with other students. Rita’s swim activity is a similar investigation into the relationship between distance vs. time graph, and the actual physical movement of an object, however, this time, the graph accompanies a story describing Rita’s swim across a pool.

Although this activity is designed for elementary school students, it can be modified to give high school students a basic inquiry activity about slope and rates of change. The activity as currently constructed, would be an excellent inquiry activity to begin a lesson on rates of change – I would give students an opportunity to work through the lab, which should provide students an opportunity to apply what they know about the real world (their current understanding of speed, and rates of change) to graphs. As students progresses through the WISE activity through its two parts, students will gain an opportunity to reorganize their knowledge, and make corrections, as the bumper car and its movements would be visible to students after they have modified their graph. After working through the Amusement Park Challenge and Rita’s swim, students should have a fair well built understanding of the connection between speed, direction, and the graphs that represents change in each of these properties.  After the activity, I would then begin getting into the mathematical portion of the lesson. I would use the graphs to introduce the concept of a rate of a change, which in this case would be the slope of the curve that is formed. I would then introduce the formula for slope: m=y2-y1/x2-x1, and use the formula calculate the slope for different lines to show that the slope is representative of speed.

I believe my lesson takes a constructivist approach and  have followed the principles of SKI closely (Linn, 2004). 1) The students thinking about speed was made visible to them via the Amusement park/Rita’s Swim activity 2) The science behind speed and graphs was made accessible to students due to the guided nature of the WISE activity, 3) and social support was given to students as they were given an opportunity to share their thrill ride after the conclusion of part 1. Feedback would be provided by the WISE activity throughout, and during student discussions of the various created thrill rides.

  • Williams, M. Linn, M.C. Ammon, P. & Gearhart, M. (2004). Learning to teach inquiry science in a technology-based environment: A case study. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13(2), 189-206. Available in Course Readings.

Our desire for fast information…

The Jasper materials were created to provide a set of motivating problems for students and further provide a context for students to integrate knowledge from many subject areas such as science, history, English and mathematics (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992).  The Jasper series attempts to tackle a large problem that is still at the core of education today and a part of many educators’ pedagogy: create independent thinkers and not just students that are able to follow a set of procedures to solve basic arithmetic problems.  The CTGV (1992) found that most students were able to answer basic questions that were posed to them, but were not effective at breaking down larger questions into smaller, more manageable sub questions.  As an educator in an environment where inquiry and cross curricular projects are encouraged (and to some degree required), the problems the Jasper series address are important; Many of us are familiar with the changes to the British Columbia curriculum and how we are not just relying on students to know content but also curricular competencies as well (how they are doing it).  With the rapidly changing environment in both our students’ lives and also the professional workplace, it is important to create graduates that are able to make informed decisions with the information they are given (Prado & Gravoso, 2011).

Contemporary video that are made to supplement instruction take on another approach that I don’t think are directly related to anchored instruction.  Khan Academy tackles the issue of convenience and allows educators to flip the classroom.  The lessons are very well designed, but again provide more of a traditional work-through example as opposed to students learning through inquiry.  This is not to discount the effectiveness of this resource as students can use it as a primary source, or as a supplementary source to clarify topics they may not fully understand.  Crash Course tackles the issue of engagement and also caters to our desire for information in a condensed way.  I have seen many Crash Course videos (and often times is my first choice if I need a ‘Crash Course’ on a particular topic).  The content is very condensed and is not anchored in any real-world problem that the student needs to solve but is rather a synopsis of a topic in an engaging and humorous way.


Prado, M., & Gravoso, R. (03/01/2011). The asia-pacific education researcher: Improving high school students’ statistical reasoning skills: A case of applying anchored instruction College of Education, De La Salle University

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). The Jasper Experiment: An Exploration of Issues in Learning and Instructional Design. Educational Technology Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80. Retrieved from

Save the Fuzzies!!

The project that I chose to explore was Fuzzy Chronicles: Newtonian Dynamics (ID: 14445).  This is a physics lesson aimed at students grades 9-12 and requires about 4-5 hours to complete.  I was drawn to this project particularly for a couple reasons.  First, the layout is like a space mission where you have to watch tutorials, play missions to try and navigate spaceships through obstacles in order to save Fuzzies, and complete multiple choice responses to check your understanding.  I was also intrigued how this project was different than many of the others I explored as it was completely based in Flash.  In the editor view for this project I was completely overwhelmed because, unlike some of the other projects, the different steps were not discrete and pages didn’t completely reload.  Nevertheless I explored this project and did notice changes I would make in order to improve the overall experience.  I did also explore Investigating Planetary Motion and Seasons (ID: 20964) in order to become familiar with what the editor view looked like in a more traditional lesson; text, images and other media could be manipulated directly allowing for a lot of flexibility.

Flash allowed The Fuzzy Chronicles a unique approach to teaching Newtonian Dynamics through a game; With this platform also came some challenges.  The lessons and tutorials all ran on a loop and were not able to be paused which to me seemed a bit fast.  I found I had to watch a lesson at least three times to get all of the information I needed – I would add the functionality to break each lesson into smaller bits and then either replay, or move on to the next section.  Further, I would supplement the mini-lessons with a question period or additional explanation on the course content; For a physics 11 student, the pace may be correct, but science 9 or 10 (or even younger) would require a little bit more explanation.  For the multiple choice knowledge checks at the end of each mission, more feedback is required.  Hattie and Timperley (2007) state that student feedback is most effective when it notifies the student where they can improve and how the error may have occurred as opposed to just praise or consequences.  If a student gets the question right or wrong, some meaningful feedback needs to be provided.  

Finally, in the spirit of inquiry, I would add functionality to the game that would allow students to simply play through all the missions without having to view the lessons – once students mastered the game, coming back to explore the theory behind it could provide very meaningful and deep learning.

I’ve included a link in case any of you want to check the game out!  


Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112. Retrieved from

Linn, M. C. (07/01/2003). Science education (salem, mass.): WISE design for knowledge integration John Wiley & Sons Inc.

ISS Project

I chose to explore and customize the “Orbital Motion and the International Space Station” project on WISE as it was an interesting topic to me at the time of selection. I modified the project from the original version, by updating the information and adding some updates about some topics previously brought up about the ISS’s deorbit plan. As the lesson was already well thought up, so I actually didn’t have much to add and probably wouldn’t need to either if I used it myself. My adjustments during use would most likely be in the presentation part of the lesson as the project is created to be used more for individual learning, and I think I would like to use it as a group as well for certain tasks so that group learning can occur.

If I was to use this project for my class,  I would most likely incorporate the lesson with some math and PE to make it an integrated lesson as well. The project has content that can be used for Math lesson as students can learn how to do some calculations after learning the projectile concepts, though it might be more physics related. But the lesson can definitely involve some outdoor, PE component as students can experiment on projectile science with various objects as well to build better understanding. But ultimately, the students would all go back to the online environment to do each section and submit their results there for assessment.

Photosynthesis with TELE: Virtual Experiment, Pintrest and Online Forum

The project I explored was “Photosynthesis: Initial Ideas”. I am not a teacher but customized the lesson based on how I would like to teach my daughter about photosynthesis when she grows up. I modified the lesson to incorporate three more activities – a real-life photosynthesis experiment, photosynthesis virtual experiment, and sharing the analysis of the experiment. The activities will provide students with an introduction to the scientific observation process, discovery, and analysis. The first activity was called “How Do Leaves Breathe?” –  a simple science experiment that students can run at home before class, without any technology.  The activity will encourage students to observe and discover how plants produce oxygen through photosynthesis that is in progress, in a real-life setting. For the second activity, asked students to play with a photosynthesis virtual experiment. Playing with the virtual experiment will also help them understand the relationship between the level of sunlight and the corresponding intensity of the photosynthesis. During the process, students will inquire regarding plants’ energy transformation. Finally, the last two activities will be added after the first class is complete: 1) ask students to take pictures of the final results of their experiment and upload them to Pintrest so that students can share and compare their experiment 2) ask students to share their experiment story using the photos uploaded to Pintrest and to ask questions about photosynthesis in an online small group forum. This last step has three benefits:  firstly, it will alleviate any student misconceptions formed during the class; secondly, it will help students scaffold each other’s learning within a group; thirdly, and most importantly, the technology will be used to capture students’ reflections, plans, discourse, and results, in order to help teachers obtain a detailed record of how each student group perceives the project (Linn et al., 2004). The last two activities are important because, as Kim & Hannafin (2011) point out, “social-networking technologies foster a wide range of opportunities for scientists to collaborate and build knowledge simultaneously through distributed reasoning” (p. 414).

Kim, M. C., & Hannafin, M. J. (2011). Scaffolding problem solving in technology-enhanced learning environments (TELEs): Bridging research and theory with practice. Computers & Education, 56(2), 403-417.

Williams, M. Linn, M.C. Ammon, P. & Gearhart, M. (2004). Learning to teach inquiry science in a technology-based environment: A case study. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13(2), 189-206.


The Hot Box

I explored and customized the WISE project Solar Radiation and Solar Ovens.  This is a retrospective activity for me, because our class did a Solar Thermal Heating project this year that is the same concept, with a different use case.  I wish I had known about the WISE project data base—the interactives make excellent use of simulations, visualizations, and feedback!  I customized the WISE project to fit our Solar Thermal Heating unit.  We used a constructivist approach.
We started by watching a short video of a Navajo girl who grew up with her grandparent off the grid in rural Arizona.  They use wood for heating in the winter and as an engineering student, she wanted to do something to help her family so she designed, built, and installed a passive solar thermal unit on their adobe house.  The kids found it really inspiring, and strongly connected with the real-world application of science, which is highly motivating (Fernades, 2014).  The girls in the class also thought it was pretty cool that the girl in the video was an engineering rock star.  Our goal to build a solar thermal unit was clear, and the students were all pretty certain that they were up to the task.  Hattie (2007) suggests that this is key to reducing the gap in affective processes, like effort and engagement.
In small groups, students shared what they thought engineering was as a career.  Later in the week, a City of Vancouver engineer gave us a tour of the solar thermal heating units at the local swimming pool.  He also told them about his career as an engineer.  Students wrote a reflective paragraph on their perception of engineering as a career.  Although I did not see this at the time, this is one example of Scaffolded Knowledge Integration in action.  Many of the WISE project slides mirror what we did, but in a much slicker way.  In groups of three, students researched, designed, presented, and built solar thermal units.  This makes thinking visible, makes science accessible, and helps students learn from one another; three of the four tenets of Linn et al (2003).  Team members agreed on group roles and responsibilities.  They were responsible for designing a test for the units and there were many misconceptions about the difference between heat and temperature.  At this point, and many others, the instructors (including myself) were responsible for providing cognitive feedback cues (Hattie, 2007) that addressed the faulty interpretations.  Eventually, they collaboratively chose to measure the temperature difference between intake and outtake air.  Once the basic units had been tested, they went back to the books to see if they could design additional efficiencies.  Some chose to silver the outside (for radiation losses), other teams built reflecting “wings” to capture more incident radiation.  One group installed a fan to increase the flow of air through the unit.  This “Beta Model” iteration design is key for students to learn to critique, compare, revise, and rethink (Linn et al, 2003).

Fernandes, S., Mesquita, D., Flores, M. A., & Lima, R. M. (2014). Engaging students in learning: findings from a study of project-led education. European Journal of Engineering Education, 39(1), 55-67.

Hattie, H. & Timperly, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112.

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