Author Archives: Gloria Ma

Climate Change through WISE, PhET, and Climate Time Machine

Misconception: Climate Change cannot be stopped and that it has limited effects on people and society.

Targeted grade group: Grade 7

Premise: Given that climate change is a growing concern and a current global problem frequently discussed in the media, it is important students become educated and empowered citizens about this issue.

Step 1: Assess students’ prior knowledge about climate change

Research: Shepardson, Niyogi, Choi et al. (2011) conducted a study to discover the conceptions secondary students have about global warming and climate change. Their research corroborated with previous research; there were multiple misconceptions students had about these two topics. Students showed confusion about the greenhouse effect, such as the kind of radiation it involves (Shepardson et al., 2011). As well, students also believed global warming was caused by greenhouse gases and air pollution in general (Shepardson et al., 2011). More importantly, students indicated that the negative effects of global warming and climate change will not have a significant impact on them or society (Shepardson et al., 2011). Specifically, they have the belief that humans will create new technologies or find ways to overcome these negative environmental changes (Shepardson et al., 2011). Moreover, students solutions to minimizing the effects of climate change and global warming include: using the car less, limiting pollution and reducing factories (Shepardson et al., 2011).

Activity: Shepardson et al. (2011) utilized a global warming and climate change assessment instrument where students completed open ended questions and “draw-and-explain” items to allow assessors to analyze the content of responses. This is an effective method to implement because I can visualize my students’ understanding of climate change in terms of accuracy, depth and breadth. I would likely begin with asking them what they think climate change or global warming means and to draw a picture of how they believe it works. An open-ended question I would include from the article was based on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) that asks students to explain how global warming might affect oceans, weather, plants, animals, people and society (Shepardson et al., 2011).

Step 2: Have students explore Climate Time Machine

The Climate Time Machine (hyperlink) was created by NASA to visualize the time lapse of the effects of climate change on sea ice, sea level, carbon dioxide and global temperature. It allows students to “see” the what climate change is. This supports the Scaffolded Knowledge Integration Framework principle of “making thinking visible” (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2003). Visualizations like the Climate Time Machine helps students develop connections to concepts (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2003). The effects of climate change are not easily visualized by students but using this digital visualization tool, students can better understand what climate change looks like over time.

Activity: I would have my students get into small groups of two or three and to “play around” with the dials of each climate indicator to see how the Earth has been impacted by climate change. They will then discuss aspects they have noticed and things they have learned.

Step 3: Have students explore PhET simulations on glaciers and the greenhouse effect

PhET offers two simulations related to climate change for students to explore. Finkelstein, Perkins, Adams, Kohl, and Podolefsky (2005) found that in inquiry-based units, students exploring simulations learned more content than students using actual lab equipment. That is, students who used computer simulations showed more understanding about circuits in terms of building and writing about them (Finkelstein et al., 2005).

Activity:  The first simulation is called Glaciers ( and students can adjust with mountain snowfall and temperature to see the change in size of glaciers. They will also have opportunities to measure different parameters of a glacier. Students will be asked to reflect in their journals of how this activity is connected to climate change and to develop linkages of how this can affect the oceans, and habitats of living organisms. The second simulation is The Greenhouse Effect ( and students get to alter gas concentration, cloud presence, and explore the temperature of the atmosphere. Students will build an understanding of what the greenhouse effect is and why greenhouse gases affect temperature. In a class discussion, students will contribute ideas to create a class-wide conception of the greenhouse effect, with the teacher facilitating understanding.

Step 4: Redesign WISE project catered to students’ conceptions and misconceptions about climate change

A Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE) project will be adapted and modified to address students’ understanding about climate change. WISE is founded on the scaffolded knowledge integration perspective that has four principles of making student thinking visible, making science accessible, creating opportunities for peer learning and encouraging continuous learning (Linn, Clark, & Slotta, 2003). The specific WISE project I would modify is “What Impacts Global Climate Change?”. It explores the greenhouse effect and has opportunities for empowering students in effective ways to alleviate climate change. However, there is a significant amount of time spent discussing solar radiation and I would like my students to explore other types of radiation and furthermore, the ways actions in everyday life that contribute to global warming.

Step 5: Assess students’ progress

Linn, Clark, & Slotta (2003) emphasize WISE through scaffolding knowledge integration framework as a tool to make student thinking visible. This relates to the assessment of student learning in the process of the unit about climate change. Through discussions, journals and the WISE platform (e.g. it tracks student responses), educators will have a range of assessment methods to explore how student thinking changes over time.


Finkelstein, N.D., Perkins, K.K., Adams, W., Kohl, P., & Podolefsky, N. (2005). When learning about the real world is better done virtually: A study of substituting computer simulations for laboratory equipment. Physics Education Research,1(1), 1-8.

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

Shepardson, D.P., Niyogi, D., Choi, S. et al. Climatic Change (2011) 104: 481. doi:10.1007/s10584-009-9786-9

Climate Time Machine 

This resource allows students to visualize the climate change over time. There are four topics to choose from: sea level, sea ice, global temperature and carbon dioxide. It’s a simple tool that can be used to introduce what climate change is and how it is affecting the indicators of the environment. This connects to resolving student misconceptions of scientific knowledge as a topic like climate change is not easily grasped by students as it cannot be visualized, but this tool can demonstrate in simple ways what global warming is. Students can then perhaps split into groups to study what has caused the changes in each indicator.

Knowledge Construction, GLOBE, and Virtual Field Trips

From the article by Driver, Asoko, Leach, Scott & Mortimer (1994), knowledge in science is constructed at an individually and socially. Specifically, students learn as an individual when previous knowledge schemes are modified after encountering disequilibration (Driver et al., 1994). For example, when students’ misconceptions (e.g. informal science ideas, commonsense knowledge) are challenged, they learn by changing their previous knowledge about a topic based on information that contradicts or conflicts with what they know. Furthermore, at the social level, scaffolding opportunities encourage individuals to engage socially in discussions about phenomena. Classrooms are the most typical environments where this “process of conceptual change” (Driver et al., 1994, p. 8) occurs because they provide a place for students to be actively engaged and where social interaction with peers offer different perspectives for them to reflect upon. That is, students become introduced to science concepts and rules of the scientific community. A summary point of the article, “Scientific knowledge is socially constructed, validated and communicated” (Driver et al., 1994, p. 11) resonated with me because it shows that science is not a “top-down” or “teacher-directed” learning process. Rather, scientific knowledge is learned through a collaborative effort involving exploration, discussions and reflections. As well, the role of the teacher is to inspire new ideas and inquiries to support students. Collectively, this view also reminds me of PCK because it emphasizes the pedagogical knowledge of teachers (e.g. facilitator, guide, provide scaffolding opportunities, etc.) and the delivery of content knowledge (e.g. socially constructed) I chose to explore GLOBE and Virtual Field Trips as my two networked communities to validate and further expand on Driver et al. (1994)’s article on knowledge construction in science.

GLOBE is an educational resource aimed at strengthening students’ understanding of math, science and geography as well as expanding their environmental awareness (Butler & MacGregor, 2003). One of its main features is the student-scientist interaction component where they exchange data, and communicate with each other to study problems. At the individual level, students construct knowledge by contributing data to the GLOBAL database. Knowledge is socially constructed through “active participation of scientists as research collaborators with students” (Butler & MacGregor, 2003, p. 9) where the scientists also act as mentors. The benefits of this aspect is that students’ learning is enriched, their commitment to science education is strengthened and they receive training for future career endeavors. In terms of PCK, both pedagogical and content knowledge are supported. Teachers are provided with quality training through a GLOBE Teacher’s Guide that emphasizes hands-on, inquiry-based pedagogy. As for content knowledge, there are a variety of investigation areas such as the atmosphere, soil, land cover, water, etc. and teachers are able to reach out to other educators as well as scientists to provide information.

Virtual Field Trips (VFTs) is another learning resource for students to connect with scientists. In Adedokun, Hetzel, Parker, Loizzo, Burgess, & Paul Robinson (2012), researchers explored how VFTs can be utilized to connect scientists and enrich students’ views of science, careers in science and scientists. The study was based on three limitations regarding VFTS: the use of VFTs to explore careers in science, characteristics of effective VFTs, and benefits of building student-scientist interactions through VFTs (Adedokun et al, 2012). Specifically, the VFT focused was using Purdue zipTrips, which were real time 45 minute interactive programs with 4 aspects: audience’s, interaction with scientists, pre-recorded segments, and integrated activities. Through current literature on VFTs, the researchers collated 8 guidelines of effective VFTs and applied a VFT like zipTrip to them. One of the guidelines that highlights the construction of scientific knowledge are the constructivist elements where zipTrip respects students’ prior knowledge but supplement structured tasks to provide opportunities for students to alter their beliefs. This reflects Driver et al. (1994) and the individual level of knowledge construction. As well, the interactivity aspect of zipTrips also supports Driver et al. (1994)’s social construction of knowledge where students interact with scientists to see their work environments, for instance. Furthermore, PCK is integrated in VFTs in general because it emphasizes authentic learning environments (e.g. inquiry-based pedagogy) and clear learning outcomes (e.g. curriculum-linked content).


Adedokun, O. A., Hetzel, K., Parker, L. C., Loizzo, J., Burgess, W. D., & Paul Robinson, J. (2012). Using Virtual Field Trips to Connect Students with University Scientists: Core Elements and Evaluation of zipTrips™. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 21(5), 1-12.


Butler, D.M., & MacGregor, I.D. (2003). GLOBE: Science and education. Journal of Geoscience Education, 51(1), 9-20.

Driver, R., Asoko, H., Leach, J., Scott, P., & Mortimer, E. (1994). Constructing scientific knowledge in the classroom. Educational researcher, 23(7), 5-12.

Handheld Technology, Climate Change and Kinesthetic Learning

In addition to Winn (2003), I have deliberately selected two articles that provide insight on my TELE assignment and future teaching environment (as I plan to implement my TELE project for my students in September). The second article was on the integration of handheld technologies in a WISE project (Aleahmad & Slotta, 2002). The third article surrounds student conceptions of global warming (Niebert & Gropengießer, 2013). Both of these articles are complementary to my purpose because for my TELE I am interested in redesigning a current WISE project on global warming and cater it to my grade 7 students in September. From the three articles it has demonstrated that learning occurs when there is interactions between internal conceptions (e.g. cognitive), external activities (e.g. scaffolding) and environmental influences (e.g. handheld devices, experiments, etc.). Learning is complex and requires what I informally call, kinesthetic learning where students need to be physically active participants in the learning process in an embodied and embedded way that requires them to adapt and modify their conceptions. In Niebert & Gropengießer (2013), researchers analyzed scientists and students’ conceptions of climate change using the Model of Educational Reconstruction (MER) approach where they used misconceptions as starting points to recreate learning activities to target them.I found this perspective implicated a teaching strategy where I could use a version of a “Knowledge-Wonder-Learn” activity to assess my students’ prior knowledge about climate change. Misconceptions would appear here and I could utilize them to cater lessons to address them. The article also emphasized the challenge for students to grasp a concept like the greenhouse effect because it is not easily visualized by students microscopically (e.g. global warming as progressed through hundreds of years_ and therefore, it makes it difficult for them to understand it. However, through hands-on experiments and activities, students can visualize the issue of climate change visible and operationalized so that they can then reflect on their misconceptions about this topic. In the third article by Aleahmad and Slotta (2002), it showed how to integrate handheld technologies into an already technology enhanced learning environment such as WISE where it expanded the opportunities for collaboration and scaffolding. Students would use handheld devices, which I assume could be iPads and tablets these days to obtain data from the outside world (e.g. surveys, field observations) and enter them into the same database so that the entire class can use the data for further learning. With the topic of climate change, using handheld technologies students can conduct interviews with scientists, take pictures of the environment (e.g. evidence of global warming), and collect field data (e.g. sea level, water quality) and pool them together with other students. This makes the learning authentic because students can explore and share different information. Since WISE is typically a partner project, integrating handheld technologies will allow groups to collaborate with one another to provide further scaffolding opportunities.

Questions for discussion:

  1. What are some potential constraints of Winn’s (2003) proposal of a learning environment that consists of embodiment, embeddedness and dynamic adaptation?
  2. Are there other suggestions you can provide about integrating handheld technology into a topic related to climate change?
  3. Is it possible that some learning activities (e.g. experiments and other hands-on opportunities) are not effective at challenging students’ misconceptions about a topic and if so, what can an educator do?

Aleahmad, T. & Slotta, J. (2002). Integrating handheld Technology and web-based science activities: New educational opportunities. Paper presented at ED-MEDIA 2002 World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications. Proceedings (14th, Denver, Colorado, June 24-29, 2002); see IR 021 687.

Niebert, K., & Gropengießer, H. (2013). Understanding the Greenhouse Effect by embodiment–analysing and using students’ and scientists’ conceptual resources. International Journal of Science Education, 1-27.

Winn, W. (2003). Learning in artificial environments: Embodiment, embeddedness, and dynamic adaptation. Technology, Instruction, Cognition and Learning, 1(1), 87-114.


Visual Compare and Contrast of four environments on learning goals and theory:

My concept map of the four technology-enhanced learning environments, I have noticed that many ideas of the different environments overlapped. As can be seen, connections are made between some related concepts and ideas. I realize that there are more connections to be made, which is why I chose a concept map so that I can continuously add more connections in the future. After exploring these four design of technology-enhanced learning environments, it has inspired me with a diversity of ways of integrating learning in the math and sciences for my students. In particular, I have learned that the skills students acquire in the learning process are more important than the content. Some of these skills include inquiring, reflecting, creating, critiquing, problem solving, collaborating, evaluating, generating, among others. For instance, teaching math has always followed a strict curriculum of different separate units but is not taught in ways that are applicable to students. However, Anchored Instruction integrates math into meaningful case studies that allow students to make connections between the math concepts with real life applications. As well, the Scaffolded Knowledge Integration emphasizes the importance of peer-to-peer learning experiences in learning. Another example is Learning-for-Use, which introduces the critical idea of motivation in learning that leads to knowledge construction. Finally, T-GEM is the use of technology-enhanced methods to engage in the process of generating, evaluating and modifying relationships in knowledge. It has impacted how I will teach in my own teaching context (i.e. Grade 6s and 7s) because it seems that the teacher’s role is to facilitate and guide students’ learning rather than directly teach content and skills to them. Furthermore, teachers are encouraged to be participate as a shared learner in the process. This frees the teacher from being the sole source of knowledge and be more available to students observe students’ processes and performance of learning. Overall, learning about these different technology-enhanced learning environments has opened up a plethora of possibilities to teach all types of students in authentic, meaningful ways.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992a). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80.

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.

Khan, S. (2007). Model-based inquiries in chemistry. Science Education, 91(6), 877-905.

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


Challenging Concept: Integers

I teach grade 6s and 7s and integers is a common concept in math my students struggle with. Particularly, when dealing with negative integers. This includes adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing with negative integers. Specifically, my students have had difficulties with understanding that adding a negative integer makes a number less positive and that subtracting a negative integer makes a number more positive. Though we go over the rules of integers, I have seen significant students experience difficulty with the concept. I have also utilized metaphors such as thinking of negative integers as “unhappy things” and positive integers as “happy things” and if we add more positive integers, we will be more happy and the number will be more positive and vice versa. However, if I subtract a negative number, I am metaphorically speaking taking away unhappy things, and therefore I will be more happy and the number will be more positive.

3 Step T-GEM cycle

Teacher Strategies Examples Student Strategies
Provide background information on integers Introducing what “positive integers” and “negative integers” look like
Generate Show examples of different types of integer equations, but starting only with adding of two positive and two negative integers. (+2) + (+3) = +5
(-2) + (-3) = -5
Try to generate relationship between positive and negative integers and operation. They also try to consider how this math concept is used in real life applications.
Evaluate Encourage students to evaluate their relationships to see if the integer equations will become true/false. “What are some other examples?”
“Create your own examples and see if it follows your rules.”
Try out their theories and evaluate them.
Modify Ask students to modify original ideas of relationship between positive integers.

Then, the teacher will introduce a new related concept such as adding a negative integer, then subtracting a negative integer, before moving on to multiplying and dividing.

“What changes can we make to your rule?” Modify their relationships if it is false.


Digital Technology

A digital technology that can be used to accompany the concept of integers is the use of coloured chips found at and They allow students to visually represent the integers using different coloured chips (e.g. one for negative, one for positive).

Index of Virtual Manipulatives. (2017). National Library of Virtual Manipulatives. Retrieved 23 February 2017, from

Applicable Learning

The Learning-for-Use (LfU) framework has provided me with insight on integrating technology into the math and sciences. I can envision using activities like Google Earth, ArcGis and WorldWatcher to have students visualize and apply their learning. For instance, I can have my grade 6/7 students look at maps for their country/ancient civilization study projects. They can retrieve important facts from these visuals and being able to manipulate the maps to show different information is an effective skill for them to develop. Furthermore, students can demonstrate their usage by showing their peers through a projector or SMART Board. The design principles of LfU are at work in terms of promoting motivation by having students actively being a part of the learning process, constructing knowledge based on their maps, and refining their knowledge by sharing their knowledge and making reflections (Edelson, 2001). The roles of the teacher and students are aligned with LfU principles because teachers are not the solely responsible for delivering content knowledge, students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning and are not relying on the the teacher for their learning, and both teachers and students are engaged in the learning process equally. I also like the concept of integrating specifically computers into the curriculum because being able to use a computer is an important skill in terms of proper word processing, running programs, etc. LfU`s emphasis on computer definitely brings forth the idea of reform in the educational system (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.

Global Climate Detectives

The project I explored was “What Impacts Global Climate Change?”. I customized parts of it to include section that assesses prior knowledge and initial questions before introducing the question of “What impacts global climate change?”. I also added several videos to show the visual effect of what climate change looks like from satellites. I teach Grade 7s in British Columbia and one of the curricular content areas involves the studying the evidence and human impacts of climate change so this projects was spot on for it. For my lesson, I would have students work in pairs and include parts of collaborative discussions in the project so students can scaffold each other’s learning. Pairs of students would explore the “module” sections together but then after each main part (7 parts total), there would be a whole class discussion that includes an individual reflection. Also, I would also have students create a poster to promote awareness of global climate change that includes learned knowledge and making presentations to other students in the school and possibly the community. Furthermore, students would also work in groups to design a service learning project where they can actively be a part of protecting the climate. The WISE research incorporates many of the 21st century learning skills such as questioning, comparing, rethinking and reflecting. Also, since science knowledge requires teachers to have strong content and pedagogical knowledge (i.e. TPACK), that is, knowledge on the content but then also how to deliver it to students in the best way, the Scaffolding Knowledge Integration Framework of WISE allows teachers to not transfer their misconceptions to students and allows educators to be a part of the learning process along with their students.

Authentic Learning: Revisited

Based on three readings from this week, the Jasper materials seem to be responding to the issue of inauthentic learning in mathematics. That is, teachers seem to be emphasizing the importance of mathematical facts and fluency, which has caused several additional problems of student learning including: lack of problem solving skills (CTGV, 1992a), lack of motivation and engagement (Hasselbring, Lott & Zydney, 2005), an increasing gap between low and high performers (Hickey, Moore & Pellegrin, 2001), as well as low scores on standardized achievement tests (Hasselbring et al., 2005). I agree on the relevance of this issue because problem solving has always been a skill students have struggled with and that though students excel at drill and practice equations, they are somehow unable to translate these strengths into hypothetical word problems. At the same time, these word problems are confounding because it requires students with adequate reading comprehension abilities but then additionally are irrelevant and not applicable to real life situations. On the contrary, authentic learning includes the development of core skills of mathematics in the context of meaningful solving activities (CTGV, 1992a). The Jasper Project addresses these issues because it teaches students to identify and define issues, to participate in collaborative problem solving, and to actively construct of knowledge about mathematical concepts.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992a). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80.

Hasselbring, T. S., Lott, A. C., & Zydney, J. M. (2005). Technology-supported math instruction for students with disabilities: Two decades of research and development.

Hickey, D.T., Moore, A. L. & Pellegrin, J.W. (2001). The motivational and academic consequences of elementary mathematics environments: Do constructivist innovations and reforms make a difference? American Educational Research Journal, 38(3), 611-652.

PCK, TPACK and Jigsaw

I am familiar with PCK and TPACK from earlier courses and when I first encountered it, I found it an extremely useful framework to adopt as a teaching philosophy because it allows me to visually explore the areas of my teaching I can reflect and improve on. That is, PCK “identifies the distinctive bodies of knowledge for teaching” (Shulman, p. 8) where pedagogy and content knowledge is the blend of where effective teaching can be established. Furthermore, the introduction of technology as another body of knowledge is relevant to learning environments today because it has the ability to influence both content and pedagogy in positive ways. Overall, TPACK incorporates all the elements an educator needs to master and understand in order to create an effective technology integrated learning environment for all types of learners.

An example of PCK I have used is jigsaw cooperative learning, where students participate in a collaborative learning environment. Individually, students are each responsible for one part of the content knowledge. Students then come back together to share their learning with one another through discussion and exchanges. Together, they form a more complete picture of the topic of study. Each student also becomes an expert on one aspect of the topic. It is considered PCK because of the intertwining of the strategy of jigsaw cooperative learning with the content knowledge and this type of learning environment depends on the topic of study.Specifically, if individual students are only knowledgeable about one part of a topic, the emphasis of learning should be the collaborative nature of the experience, rather than just the content because each individual student should not then be assessed on the entire topic.

Shulman, L.S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4 -14.