LfU and Simple Machines

Edelson (2001) developed a model called LfU or Learning-for-Use model that incorporates these four principles and creates a three-step process that is made up of motivation, knowledge construction, and knowledge refinement. As Edelson (2001) identifies that teachers were overwhelmed by trying to cover content and develop the scientific inquiry process in their students. The goal of the model was to show how teachers could use the inquiry model to build and support knowledge acquisition in students and the two did not need to be two separate units.

In planning a lesson that followed the LfU model in Science I am focused on the conclusions that Radinsky, Oliva, & Alamar (2009) examined of a science classroom that supports a “co-constructed nature of scientific knowledge and work.” (Radinsky, Oliva, & Alamar, 2009) For example:

In this unit students are developing an understanding of how simple machines work together. The challenge is in teams to come up with a plan to lift a car using the materials provided that all can be used to create simple machines. As Edelson (2001) notes this activity creates a demand for knowledge and experience curiosity by developing a problem that they can’t currently solve. In this activity teacher is in the role of facilitator asking key questions and being an observer. Students capture knowledge from peers and build their understanding through hearing other students’ experiences with lifting the car. It would be expected that, like Camila (Radinsky, Oliva, & Alamar, 2009) students will start to incorporate other thinking into their observations.

Knowledge Construction
As students realize that they do not have enough information to complete the task we move into knowledge construction. Here is a more active phase where students rotate through a series of stations that allow them to explore each simple machine in detail. Radinsky, Oliva, & Alamar (2009) identify this stage as theory-building and data exploration. This stage is characterized through small and whole group discussions that lead to small-group work and skill-building lessons. The goal is to build new knowledge structures (Edelson, 2001) and attach them to existing knowledge.

Knowledge Refinement
Here students apply the new knowledge learned to complete a task. The final activity has students move a basket of bricks. Edelson (2001) calls this as an opportunity for “learners to apply their knowledge in meaningful ways.” Finally students create a learning journal that has them reflect on what steps were needed to lift the car to provide an opportunity for students to “reorganize and reindex their knowledge.” (Edelson, 2001)

Edelson, D.C. (2001). Learning-for-use: A framework for the design of technology-supported inquiry activities. Journal of Research in Science Teaching,38(3), 355-385. http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1002/1098-2736(200103)38:33.0.CO;2-M

Radinsky, J., Oliva, S., & Alamar, K. (2009). Camila, the earth, and the sun: Constructing an idea as shared intellectual property. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(6), 619-642. http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/tea.20354

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