Author Archives: haneefa corbie

Lesson: T-Gem and Simple Circuits

Objective: Students will be able to construct simple circuits, as well as identify the equipment needed to do so.

Materials: Computer lab, wires, light bulbs, batteries, switches.

Class Activity:

  • Students prior knowledge will be assessed informally through a class discussion. What di students know about circuits; can they give any examples.  How do circuits behave.
  • Have students create circuits using phet.
  • Have students do the same process using the actual materials given to them.
  • What happens when the switch is open? Closed?
  • Try creating circuits with multiple switches and light bulbs.
  • Have students create various circuits given varying numbers of switches and light bulbs.
  • Extension: Explain to students the difference between a series circuit and a parallel circuit, have students create both and explain the difference to each other.


Distribution and Acceleration of Learning

How can learning be distributed and accelerated with access to digital resources and specialized tools and what are several implications of learning of math and science just in time and on demand?

I found the study by Carreher et al. very interesting.  I have travelled to many countries around the world and I am always impressed with the Math skill (English skills also) of children that have none or little formal schooling. The children used in this paper, “tended to be accomplished by strategies involving the mental manipulation of quantities while in the school-type situation the manipulation of symbols carried the burden of computation, thereby making the operations ‘in a very real sense divorced from reality’” (pg.28)  This proves that knowledge can be constructed in informal ways.

As for learning being distributed ad accelerated, access to digital resources and specialized tools allow students to explore regions of the world as well as phenomena that would never be accessible to them in real life. GLOBE allows students to interact with scientists as well as analyze data from various locations around the world.   All my students know are deserts, so to open teir minds to other regions of the world with other topographies would be great to accelerate and deepen their learning.

His’s paper explores informal learning institutions; such as, museums and zoos, that are creating freely available educational resources accessible over computer networks and the Web to create extended learning opportunities outside of formal schooling.  Once again, these networked communities allow students to explore areas and topics that may be limited by costs and/or geographic location.  They increase the possible ways that learning can be distributed and accelerate learning.

I remember taking my Grade 9 Biology class in Montreal to the Bodies exhibit many years ago.  I let the students walk around freely and explore the space.  I overheard conversations about anatomy and physiology that we had studied in class, I remember being full of pride and joy that my students could apply the items we had learned to the exhibits they were seeing.




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.

Hsi, S. (2008). Information technologies for informal learning in museums and out-of-school settings. International handbook of information technology in primary and secondary education, 20(9), 891-899.

Module B TELEs Summary and Synthesis

Anchored Instruction & Jasper SKI & WISE LfU & MyWorld T-Gem &


Description Learning and teaching activities should be designed around an “anchor” which is often a story, adventure, or situation that includes a problem or issue to be dealt with.


SKI describes Scaffolded Knowledge Integration and WISE is a web-based science inquiry environment designed to promote “life-long learning” in science. Learning for Use is a framework created with learning environment designers in mind for content intensive, inquiry-based science activities.


Chemland simulations have the potential to be used with the T-GEM approach as well as for promoting student engagement.
Components Anchored instruction is knowledge-centred and learner-centred, as well as focuses on assessment. Extremely flexible and easy to adapt. Based on four principals and three pillars* T-Gem focused on  Technology Pedagogy Content Knowledge (TPCK)
Goals Because the activities are in the form of a story thinking is visible; it allows for self-directed learning. Similar to Anchored Instruction thinking is visible.  WISE promotes collaboration and lifelong learning. LfU aims to motivate students as well as construct their understanding.  Students must also refine their thinking.  LfU is goal-directed, using scaffolding in the application of knowledge.  The context in which material is acquired is important. The teacher acts as a guide to help students generate information, engage and evaluate their ideas.  Modifications are made as needed.  Learning is  student-directed.
Theories · Inquiry-based

·Cognitive theory


·Activity theory


·Cognitive theory


·Activity theory


·Situated learning Theory


·Cognitive theory


·Activity theory

· Inquiry-based

·Cognitive theory


·Activity theory

* 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.


Entering this module, I really did not have any formal knowledge about TELEs. I have definitely acquired tools that I can see myself applying in my future class.  I especially liked the WISE learning platform, because it easy to use as well as easy to edit.  Many sites that I come across are not ELL friendly and I have to do significant modifications to use them in my classes, WISE presented itself as straightforward and student friendly all while getting the necessary information across to students.  I won’t lie there are many times as a science teacher I am overwhelmed; the balance between covering outcomes and ensuring technology is introduced in class is always a challenging one.  Nevertheless, I am making it my responsibility to increase my use of technology enhanced learning environments in my classroom.  I really do believe that these environments allow students to enhance their thinking and take their science knowledge to another level.  Allowing students to make mistakes, reflect, and remodel their thinking on whatever topics are covered, allows students to grow in their learning.  I think as a teacher that we are rushing so much to cover and finish our material that we do not allow enough time for students to reflect on their learning and make the necessary changes to achieve maximum success.  Very interesting module, thank you.

T-GEM: Building Circuits

Last year I taught Grade 7 Science and one of the more difficult outcomes to teach was Electricity.  Many of the students know that electricity is there but since they cannot “see” it the struggled with the concepts.

These were the outcomes for the electricity unit:

  • Construct and draw a simple series circuit and a simple parallel circuit (P1)
  • Compare the characteristics of series and parallel circuits (P2)
  • Describe simple applications for series and parallel circuits (P3)

The following is a 3-step T-GEM cycle for Electricity :

Teacher Students

Teacher asks students to create a mind map around the word electricity.


Teacher listens while taking note of the misconceptions that they may possess.


In small groups students will generate a mind map, letting their ideas and words flow.


Students present their mind maps and hang them on the wall.



Teacher gives students a battery, wires, switch, and a light bulb. Ask students to form a complete circuit and try to light the bulb.


Teacher walks around observing how students are constructing the circuits

Students working together they try and conduct a circuit.




Teachers helps any groups that needs it and explains the difference between a series and a parallel circuit.



Students look at where they went wrong and modify accordingly.


I used the phet website (

This was an excellent resource to use during this unit because the resources at our school are few and far between and this really helped the students understand the concept of building circuits.

A Very Simple Way To Look At TELEs

I really like this statement from the overview,

Educational technology is a combination of the processes and tools involved in addressing educational needs and problems, with an emphasis on applying the most current tools, such as computers and their related technologies”

Because a pencil can be seen as technology because it address educational needs, although it is not the most current, it has stood the test of time.

I think that a designer of learning experiences should make the experience as engaging and useful as possible.  I think that it is important to include students in the process, it should allow for critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration.  Even though the technology aspect is important, designers must make sure that outcomes are covered and students are learning the information intended.  There must also be room for dialogue and communication


I would design a technology based learning experience that allows students to be more active participants in their own learning, allowing them to be content creators as well as content consumers.  I want my experience to be easy to use, fun and educational all at the same time.

Fatima, Mohammed, Alyazia and Saeed are in the Desert Club at School…

I took a closer look at the Graphing Stories (with motion probes) I decided to make this lesson more ELL friendly for students in the UAE, this could be used by students from grade 6 to 8 .  I changed the names of the students in the question to names that students here would be more familiar with, I also make the English significantly less wordy and easier to understand without taking away from what was being asked in the questions.


I would start a lesson on graphing by giving my students a choice of 4 chocolate bars and asking them which is their favorite.  I would then ask them how would they show this in a graph.  I would then show them various graphs and we would go over how to read them. Students that are stronger in English can be paired with students that are weaker to complete this activity. This WISE project would be an excellent way to promote critical thinking in students which is heavily promoted in UAE schools now and it would also help students with logistic manipulation of computer programs, a skill that many of my students need to work on. SKI learners are viewed as adding ideas to their repertoire of models and reorganizing their knowledge (pg. 189).  I think that this activity would be an excellent way to help my students interact with graphs and the questioning that accompanies them.




Learning to Teach Inquiry Science in a Technology-Based Environment: A Case Study Author(s): Michelle Williams, Marcia C. Linn, Paul Ammon and Maryl Gearhart Source: Journal of Science Education and Technology, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Jun., 2004), pp. 189- 206

LfU in the UAE

In what ways would you teach an LfU-based activity to explore a concept in math or science? Draw on LfU and My World scholarship to support your pedagogical directions. Given its social and cognitive affordances, extend the discussion by describing how the activity and roles of the teacher and students are aligned with LfU principles.


Learning-for-Use (LfU) activities offer students a deep and robust conceptual understanding of the topic at hand (pg. 355).

The model is based on four principles that are shared by many contemporary theories of learning:

  1. Learning takes place through the construction and modification of knowledge structures.
  1. Knowledge construction is a goal-directed process that is guided by a combination of conscious and unconscious understanding goals.
  1. The circumstances in which knowledge is constructed and subsequently used determine its accessibility for future use.
  1. Knowledge must be constructed in a form that supports use before it can be applied

Edelson (2001) describes four principles of the LfU model on page 357:

  1. Learning takes place incrementally and constructively.
  2. Knowledge expands both consciously and unconsciously.
  3. Content must be taught in the right context, so that the knowledge can be retrieved later in the future during a similar context.
  4. Knowledge learned must be used right away so that when such knowledge is needed in a new situation in the future, it can be used to solve problems.

The three pillars of the LfU model are described as:

  1. Motivation – students need motivation to learn.  Motivation is created when students perform an activity that highlights voids or gaps that might be present in their current knowledge, and the need to fill these voids.
  2. Knowledge Construction – through scaffolding activities, knowledge is processed to fill the voids created by the motivation activity in step 1.
  3. Knowledge Refinement – in this final step the knowledge learned is used in the correct context, so that it is readily available for future retrieval.


Here in the United Arab Emirates using GIS is a rather new phenomenon. Never the less as Math and Science teachers we are taking baby steps to include these activities in our classrooms with the limited technology that we posses.  Since my students live in a remote area, their geographical knowledge is limited.  I often try to motivate my students even thought this can be hard when almost half of them with get married after graduation from high school and not pursue university.  Nevertheless, I remind them that the world is a large place that is fascinating and ready to be discovered, this at times is enough motivation to get students going.

One activity that is possible is taking a look at the houses in the community (since most times many family live on compounds together) and guessing the area of the compound.  We can get them look at GIS images and physically calculate the square footage of their houses or even other buildings such as our school.

This puts the information into context.  We can then expand and take a look at iconic building in the UAE such as Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and the man-made Palm Jumairah and compare their square footage to their homes.

We can then take time to discuss and reflect on what we have learned.  In this way students can be engaged in what they are learning because it is relevant to their lives and the teacher can act as a facilitator, guiding them in whatever manner that they need.


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.

A Little Something For Everyone

I define technology as any digital tool (computer, iPad, mobile device), as well as the tools that you would use them with (internet, programs, social media).  Combined, these help to create my ideal pedagogical design of an enhanced learning experience.  I think that designers of learning experiences must be creative to ensure that their spaces are educational, captivating as well as encourage critical thinking among their users.  I would ensure that there are various forms of media available, such as videos containing information, but there can also be videos of the instructor delivering information.  This would give a face to face feel.  For the various types of learners, I would include, podcasts, visuals schemas.  There would have to be a discussion section, that were asynchronous as well as synchronous.  I also like the idea of frequent short assessments.  I know that this seems over ambitious but these are elements that I myself are found of in TELEs.

Kindergarten Math and Science: Essential, Interactive, Creative.

Camille has been living in the United Arab Emirates for four years.  She is Canadian, with a Bachelors in Social Science, with a Masters in Childhood Education.  She teaches Math, Science, and Reading in Kindergarten.  I thought this would be an interesting change from all the other interviews we have seen in this thread. I also thought that it would be interesting to see what technology use looks like at a younger age level in a country beside Canada. In the UAE students in kindergarten are aged 3 to 5 years old.  This interview was conducted over the phone on January 28, 2017.

How often do you use technology in your class?

I honestly use technology daily.

What ways do you use technology in class?

I use technology for everything from taking attendance, to lesson starters, to interactive games.

Describe to me some ways that you use technology in your class?

We do math interactive games on the smartboard.  I also use the Smartboard to show videos and other forms of media for Science.  We have a computer area with two computers (for 25 students).  Students are also taken to the computer lab once a week for 30 minutes.  During this computer lab time students, can practice their reading, as well as work on Math and Science activities.  We also have 5 iPads in the class that students have time to use once a week for 30 minutes.

Have you seen an improvement in technology use among students over the years you have been teaching in the UAE?

Definitely, there has been a significant increase in the students’ ability to use technology.

Tell me about some of the advantages you have noticed in your students from using technology in the classroom.

Some of the teachers at our school are very comfortable using technology in the classroom, I love technology and I think that it is essential to have in a classroom in this day and age.  Kids as young as 3 can log in on their own, use the mouse, the are comfortable with the touch screens.  Having technology in the class makes it easy to teach things like research skills, which is something that the Abu Dhabi Education Council is pushing hard right now.  They want use to teach critical thinking.  We try to teach students that you cannot just believe whatever someone tells you, you must be able to look it up yourself.  We show them how to do basic searches on Google.


Teachers who are not comfortable using technology do not use it in their classrooms and this puts students at a disadvantage.  There are no clear outcomes or outlines from the school or from the Abu Dhabi Education Council as to how we should use technology in class.  Also the upkeep is not there, teachers have to look for useful programs on there own.


Because I teach older students and many of my students are lacking in their technology skills, I was happy to see that so many young students possessed basic computer skills.



A Closer Look at Technology in the Classroom: Video Cases

I really enjoyed the posted video cases.  I looked at Case 2 and 3.  In Case 2, the physics teacher stressed that using technology in class made classes more teacher centered and less student centered.  This is a wonderful thing, because as teachers we are always looking for ways for students to take control of their learning.  In this case the teacher can act more as a guide and mentor, and students can have an active part in their learning.  I am happy that the teacher brought up transferable skills, here in the UAE, they call the 21st Century skills and they are necessary when you are teaching students in this day and age.  When you incorporate technology in the class these skills are honed.  Transferable skills include critical thinking, collaboration among students, creativity, and communication.  These are all skills that students are going to need later in life, as well as when they enter the workforce.

This teacher also mentioned that using technology in the class, can cut down on time that is spent on things such as data collection, which can be time consuming when done manually.  He mentioned that his school has seen an improvement in grade, along with increased participation by females.

The female student that was interviewed, mentioned that using technology made the class easier to understand.

In Case 3, the teacher said that she had made assumptions about technology use among her students.  I can relate to this.  The first year that I taught Grade 7 Science, we went to the computer lab to do an assignment and I told the students that they had to email it to me as an attachment.  I was shocked to find out how many students did not know how to send an attachment.  I think as teachers we sometimes assume that because these students have grown up with technology all their lives that they are digital natives, when this isn’t always the case. This teacher mentions that many students were apprehensive when it came to using the technology at hand.

When ever technology is going to be used in class you must have a plan B.  There are times that the technology is not going to work, this was also mentioned by the teacher in this case.

There is no question that doing a simulation on a computer is nothing like performing an experiment in real life.  When you are in the lab performing an experiment, you must troubleshoot if there is a problem.  In a simulation, there are rarely problems and things always run as planned.  Nevertheless, if you do have the space, resources or equipment, a simulation is an excellent substitution.

Simulations may exacerbate conceptual challenges because they do not know what the equipment, materials or set up looks like in real life and this could pose a problem.  Yet, it is better to expose a student to a simulation, than to nothing at all.

Because I have mostly taught in single sex schools (all girls), I have never thought about technology to draw girls into a class or a subject, like the Physics teacher in the Case 2 mentioned. I guess we could take to all female science classes and see if using technology in class improved participation and grades.