# Author Archives: Nathan Lott

## WisWeb Minecraft

Dynamic visualization software has completely changed how students can view concepts in Science and Math. I explored the WisWeb site and looked at the two graphing applets which I decided to link to a lesson that I do in Minecraft based on the coordinate system.  The LfU framework can be seen throughout this lesson as the 3 elements of motivation, construction and reflection are apparent.  Students in grade 5 often have a hard time discerning when they will actually use a coordinate system that employs an x, y axis. Minecraft uses not only an x, y axis but employs a z axis which brings the 3rd dimension to the graphing process. Students are placed in the Minecraft environment and are introduced to the x,y, and z axis’s through a virtual orienteering exercise.  This incorporates social studies with math in an environment that has no physical limitations.  I can also control the environment by freezing students, giving rewards or warping them to a new lesson “Simulations provide the instructor considerably more freedom in designing and applying constraints” (Finkelstein, Perkins, Adams, Kohl,  & Podolefsky, 2005). By the end of the 2 day lesson students are quite involved in their environments, have a much better understanding of coordinates and graphing and are keen to start to develop their own coordinate quest platforms. “By presenting concepts at multiple levels using multiple representations and providing students the opportunity for guided exploration with instant feedback” (Stieff & Wilensky, 2003)

Goal: to help students understand the idea of an axis,  locating/plotting points on a 2D plane, Relationship between points, introduction of third dimension

Materials: MinecraftEdu, custom coordinates lesson maps (2 maps)

Lesson

1. Introduce students to the “Coordinates test area” map where they will be confined to move about on a grid in a confined zone to record 9 seperate coordinates on a seperate piece of paper
2. Once a basic understanding of how the x,y,z coordinate system works warp students to “Coordinates quest area” and form students into teams of 2
3. Place 20 coordinates on projector and give students 40 minutes to locate as many as they can
4. Each coordinate location contains a artifact that they must retrieve and that location must be recorded on their pen and paper coordinate hunt map
5. When completed ask students to build their own coordinate quest on their private servers, must be complete with seperate recording map

References

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. Retrieved April 02, 2012, from:http://phet.colorado.edu/web-pages/research.html .

Stieff, M., & Wilensky, U. (2003). Connected chemistry – Incorporating interactive simulations into the chemistry classroom. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 12(3), 285-302.

## Virtual exploration

My goal was to have students set up virtual field trips in a variety of biomes which they would take their classmates through, explaining the biodiversity in each environment based on scientific facts.  Through the Google group I gained a vast amount of knowledge in a short time through experts in the forums that had run similar environments.  Not only that but I managed to contribute back to the forum by sharing my successes and pitfalls with the forum group.  The open sandbox nature of Minecraft is something that I would have never experienced if I did not have the online community backing my experience.  This experience of knowledge sharing is something I have seen time and time again through my foray into digital forums.  I want what my students learn to be taken out of my classroom and applied in their lived experiences. Basically I asked myself just as Lampert states “What do my students take away from this activity into the other classrooms they will inhabit? Or out of school into the world of work and family?(Lampert, 1990).  The internet and tech tools that we have at our disposal has created huge opportunities for us learning how to create authentic learning for our classrooms.

References

Bielaczyc, Katerine, and Allan Collins. “Learning communities in classrooms: A reconceptualization of educational practice.” Instructional-design theories and models: A new paradigm of instructional theory 2 (1999): 269-292.

Lampert, M. (1990). When the problem is not the question and the solution is not the answer: Mathematical knowing and teaching. American educational research journal, 27(1), 29-63.

Niemitz, M., Slough, S., Peart, L., Klaus, A., Leckie, R. M., & St John, K. (2008). Interactive virtual expeditions as a learning tool: the School of Rock Expedition case study. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 17(4), 561-580

## 7 wonders of the world 360 pano’s

This is a great virtual field trip site I use quite a bit with my class.  There are 2 options for viewing, either a chopper guided version or a still camera version that both offer stunning visuals to help with lessons.  I hope this site will be moved to a Google cardboard app as having these pano’s in a virtual setting would be even better.

http://www.airpano.com/seven-wonders-world.php

## Virtual worlds

The second platform that I have been experimenting with at home is Leap Motion

Now while most schools cannot afford a Vive or Occulus Rift this really is the next level for physical interaction with virtual objects.  “AR technology can aid the creation of embodied metaphors, by combining physical and virtual manipulatives into experiences where students use physical objects augmented with virtual information.(Bujak, Radu, Catrambone, MacIntyre, Zheng, & Golubski 2013).

The software/hardware combination is very powerful and while the price point is far too high I believe that soon we will start to see these kinds of infrared tracking devices hooked in to VR platforms used more in education.

As well as with CoSpaces I can attest to the fact “a significant difference in the behavior and engagement of students during the AR implementation as compared to their normal classroom behavior” (Dunleavy, Dede, & Mitchell, 2009).  Previously disengaged students suddenly don’t want to leave Math class because they are enjoying their time immersed in the experience.  We are just at the cusp of this new tech completely changing the way we teach and I am excited about the ways that VR/AR will transform learning.

Two questions:

How do we couple VR with content as building games is very time consuming?

What skills do we lose when implementing these new technologies?

Bujak, K. R., Radu, I., Catrambone, R., MacIntyre, B., Zheng, R., & Golubski, G. (2013). A psychological perspective on augmented reality in the mathematics classroom. Computers & Education, 68, 536-544.

Dunleavy, M., Dede, C., & Mitchell, R. (2009). Affordances and limitations of immersive participatory augmented reality simulations for teaching and learning. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(1), 7-22.

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

## Tech steps

I created this 3D space to display my thoughts, use your mouse to look around, here. Looking back at our posts through this session I have a better understanding of how each theory uses technology to place the role of the teacher into that of designer and the student into knowledge creator.  All theories are underpinned by the idea that we as teachers are at a point of major change where our role is becoming vastly different than it traditionally has been. Technology has changed the way information is exchanged and knowledge is gained.  We now have the tools to give our students power over their own learning, to help guide them in a direction that is meaningful and authentic to their lived experiences.

Overall LfU is an excellent theory that can be applied across all other theories as it’s step process is a well designed framework for designing lessons.

First in LfU looking at fostering motivation and creating demand  “the learner must be motivated to learn the specific content or skills at hand based on a recognition of the usefulness of that content beyond the learning environment.(Edelson, D.C. 2001) This is where the WISE platform is an excellent tool for the delivery of online lessons, as it promotes autonomous discovery and structured guidance in the zone of proximal development. As Linn, Clark & Slotta (2003) state “if steps are too precise, resembling a recipe, then students will fail to engage in inquiry. If steps are too broad, then students will flounder and become distracted.” Digital simulations and models embedded in the WISE framework can increase intrinsic motivation and help to level the playing field with students who learn in modalities outside traditional methods.

Secondly in the LFU framework the program itself must elicit curiosity. This is where Anchored Instruction can be applied  “Video based presentation-moving images, access poor readers or ESL, dynamic images help students imagine the problem”(Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt 1992b).  As I stated “While the Jasper project seems dated by our present standards the basic premise that delivering knowledge to students and promoting critical thinking skills does not need to be a text based delivery system is innovative.  Visual representation of problems, especially in a dynamic moving form is a multimodal approach that will reach a much broader spectrum in the class.” VR is the next step in this process and is now accessible through Google Cardboard and creation tools like CoSpaces.

Thirdly Collaboration or fostering knowledge construction is two process under the LfU model “(a)observation through first hand experience, and (b) reception through communication with others”(Edelson, D.C. 2001). This also fits in with Anchored Instruction as that theory states  “Our findings indicate that, in the absence of instruction, some students will interact with their peers in ways that promote exploration of the problem space and its solution.”(Vye, Goldman,Voss,.; Hmelo, Williams, 1997) plays a key role in anchored instruction as well as constructivism.  As does intrinsic motivation through peer interaction “In work with teachers we consistently find that the opportunity to teach their peers is highly motivating and develops a strong learning community among the teachers.”(Biswas, Schwartz & Bransford 2001).

The final two phases are reflection and application.  This is where I believe the idea of Evaluate and Modify in T-GEM can be applied.  Students can look at what they have created and based on peer and self evaluation can decide on a path that will lead to modification and improvement on their previous design. Encouraging metacognition and self evaluation are key ingredients to creating self regulated learners. This leads to one of the key ideas in Anchored instruction that must be mentioned, and that is interdisciplinary inquiry learning. Looking back at what I stated “To develop a student’s curiosity about the world around us core subjects should not be taught in isolation. Rather they need to be weaved and combined to present the students with the rich tapestry that real world situations present in everyday life.”  I think as whole subject integration is a skill as teachers we should all be striving for as it is only inside our classroom walls that subjects sit in isolation.  Students experiences in their everyday lives do not reflect the rigid curriculum separation that we practice in our classrooms.

References

Biswas, G. Schwartz, D. Bransford, J. & The Teachable Agent Group at Vanderbilt (TAG-V) (2001). Technology support for complex problem solving: From SAD environments to AI. In K.D. Forbus and P.J. Feltovich (Eds.)Smart Machines in Education: The Coming Revolution in Education Technology. AAAI/MIT Press, Menlo, Park, CA. [Retrieved October 22, 2012

Bodzin, A. M., Anastasio, D., & Kulo, V. (2014). Designing Google Earth activities for learning Earth and environmental science. In Teaching science and investigating environmental issues with geospatial technology (pp. 213-232). Springer Netherlands.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992b). The Jasper series as an example of anchored instruction: Theory, program, description, and assessment data. Educational Psychologist, 27(3), 291-315.

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

James D. Slotta and Marcia C. Linn. 2009. WISE Science: Web-Based Inquiry in the Classroom. Teachers College Press, New York, NY, USA

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

Khan, S. (2010). New pedagogies for teaching with computer simulations. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 20(3), 215-232.

Vye, Nancy J.; Goldman, Susan R.; Voss, James F.; Hmelo, Cindy; Williams, Susan (1997). Complex mathematical problem solving by individuals and dyads

## Angles

For this assignment I wanted to look at an area of Math that students in grade 5 find challenging.  I decided to look at how to teach the concept of angles in numeracy using the T GEM approach and combine that with coding and art. You can teach students about what angles are but how do you have them apply that knowledge, share it, reflect and adapt.  This lesson assumes a basic understanding of Hopscotch which is a free blockly based coding app for ipads. Once they understand the basics of angles they can start to work that into creative play through the creation of Art.  Math and Art often go hand in hand with digital creation and I thought this lesson might be a good example of that platform. I created a short guide on wix.com which you can get to here.

References

Khan, S. (2010). New pedagogies for teaching with computer simulations. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 20(3), 215-232.

## Becoming the teacher

Looking at the 8 key areas when designing a lesson for LfU I would choose the virtual world builder CoSpaces to perhaps teach a Math lesson on 3D grid coordinates that would combine elements of L.A. (perhaps metaphors) to promote interdisciplinary learning and authentic understanding.  Placing the construction of knowledge in the students hands I would first have them run through the simulation I created on google cardboard themselves, then follow a web based scaffolded lesson so they could gain understanding on how to build the lesson and enhance it for a younger grade.

First looking at fostering motivation and creating demand  “the learner must be motivated to learn the specific content or skills at hand based on a recognition of the usefulness of that content beyond the learning environment students.(Edelson, D.C. 2001) Students love to teach others the knowledge they have gained. There is no better way for a student to show an understanding of what they have learned than have them teach it to others.They must also level their content to “Develop curriculum materials to better accommodate the learning needs of diverse students”( Bodzin,  Anastasio & Kulo. 2014). They need to understand who their audience is and provide “a motivating entry point to set the stage for their investigations.”( Bodzin,  Anastasio & Kulo. 2014)

Secondly the program itself elicits curiosity. Specific subject content aside in Cospaces you build a virtual environment and then use blockly to code your 3D objects to interact with the user.  Students in my class would already be well versed in Scratch which also uses blockly. However this is a 3D environment, Scratch is 2D, and spacial awareness takes on a whole new meaning when you are coding in 3D.  It shows enough gaps in the student’s knowledge that they are motivated to try and fill those gaps to complete the puzzle which is built into the design process by the teacher and the students.

Collaboration or fostering knowledge construction is two process under the LfU model “(a)observation through first hand experience, and (b) reception through communication with others”(Edelson, D.C. 2001). Students are constructing the lessons to be tested by their peers then tested again with another class.  You are not only building a lesson environment in a virtual world but you move through that world using google cardboard, while hitting those content elements of Math and L.A. This leads to observation, where mistakes are made and students need to adapt and restructure their way of thinking based on the failure of their previous experience.  This is discovery and the opening of the mind to new concepts, the teacher is only a guide in this process so the student takes ownership of their own knowledge construction.

The final two phases are reflection and application.  When the project is complete I ask, what did my students take away from teaching the lesson?  Reflection can be self and peer based, synchronous as the lesson is occurring or asynchronous in a forum such as Edmodo. Are the ideas portable, which “means the problems addressed in the activities should involve concepts and practices that are applicable to diverse locations and situations, allowing learners to extrapolate their derived understandings to problems other than those to which they were exposed.” ( Bodzin,  Anastasio & Kulo. 2014). Can they take what they have learned, either the content or the tools they were exposed to and use it in a different context? Can they apply their new knowledge in a transformative way in a new situation. Did they learn about learning?

References

Bodzin, A. M., Anastasio, D., & Kulo, V. (2014). Designing Google Earth activities for learning Earth and environmental science. In Teaching science and investigating environmental issues with geospatial technology (pp. 213-232). Springer Netherlands.

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

## Digital meets Analogue

I found this week’s readings quite beneficial as I am currently trying to  create online lessons that strike the delicate balance between autonomous discovery and structured guidance in the zone of proximal development. As Linn, Clark & Slotta (2003) state “if steps are too precise, resembling a recipe, then students will fail to engage in inquiry. If steps are too broad, then students will flounder and become distracted.” Looking through the WISE library I came across a lesson called String Instruments which I decided to enhance by applying 3 of the main ideas from WISE.  These 3 ideas ”Support Autonomous Learning”,  “Promote the Personal Relevance of Science and “making ideas visible to students” (Slotta & Linn. 2009), are key concepts when developing a WISE project. The goal of this WISE lesson is to teach students what sound is and ask them to create their own musical instrument, I decided to incorporate the digital music creation tool Sonic Pi.  Sonic Pi is a sound programming environment developed specifically to teach programming concepts where sound synthesis provides the medium for learning how to program,  We would use it on our Raspberry Pi’s alongside the “Ruler Model” that the WISE lesson utilizes, to draw comparisons between the analog and digital nature of sound in our world.

Dr. Jim Slotta’s WISE article states” Simulations and interactive models are perhaps the most powerful form of scientific visualization, because they represent complex ideas and causal relationships in a temporal, “playable” form.” (Slotta & Linn. 2009). Amplitude, Frequency, Pitch and Duration are all explained through the use of a ruler attached to a desk.  I added a brief tutorial for those 4 lessons to show how the same principle can be applied in a digital setting through Sonic Pi. Rather than just using a ruler the students can fully manipulate and control their sounds waves in Sonic Pi.  Creative boundaries are expanded through the digital tools. As well the numerous branches that digital tools affords supports autonomous learning by enabling students to carry out projects without having to constantly seek guidance from teachers or peers.”Linn, Clark & Slotta (2003).  Few things are more personal than music. The lesson presents an element of creation in a physical sense through building a string instrument. Then adding a digital element will build on the process of the students sense of “owning” their learning, instilling a personal connection with the the lesson.  I would take this lesson even farther by perhaps getting them to combine the physical with the digital using a Makey Makey like my students are doing here https://twitter.com/OpenSourceLab20/status/879782267484160000

James D. Slotta and Marcia C. Linn. 2009. WISE Science: Web-Based Inquiry in the Classroom. Teachers College Press, New York, NY, USA

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

## Active learning

There were a number of key points that the pedagogical theory of Anchored Instruction can be apply to the constructivist theory of learning.  First “the math adventures may offer other opportunities for interdisciplinary connections.” (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt 1992b).To develop a student’s curiosity about the world around us core subjects should not be taught in isolation. Rather they need to be weaved and combined to present the students with the rich tapestry that real world situations present in everyday life. This leads into “Problem complexity- no single answer, real world problems, first adventure is 15 interrelated challenges with multiple solutions.”(Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt 1992b) As in our everyday life answers are not clear cut and require the ability to navigate multiple paths and display flexibility and adaptive strategies when solving problems.

Secondly “Video based presentation-moving images, access poor readers or ESL, dynamic images help students imagine the problem”(Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt 1992b). While the Jasper project seems dated by our present standards the basic premise that delivering knowledge to students and promoting critical thinking skills does not need to be a text based delivery system is innovative.  Visual representation of problems, especially in a dynamic moving form is a multimodal approach that will reach a much broader spectrum in the class.  Digital literacy helps level the playing field between with students who do not excel at traditional modes of delivery. This also connects with the generative learning format of the videos.  Students are asking questions, rather than just answering questions, reflecting on their experience and gaining critical thinking skills in the process.

Finally from the two other readings I did I believe that collaboration  “Our findings indicate that, in the absence of instruction, some students will interact with their peers in ways that promote exploration of the problem space and its solution.”(Vye, Goldman,Voss,.; Hmelo, Williams, 1997) plays a key role in anchored instruction as well as constructivism.  As does intrinsic motivation through peer interaction “In work with teachers we consistently find that the opportunity to teach their peers is highly motivating and develops a strong learning community among the teachers.”(Biswas, Schwartz & Bransford 2001).  The Jasper series was a truly innovative way of looking at how to apply knowledge, hypothesis, carry out theories and form conclusions using technology as the vehicle.

References

Biswas, G. Schwartz, D. Bransford, J. & The Teachable Agent Group at Vanderbilt (TAG-V) (2001). Technology support for complex problem solving: From SAD environments to AI. In K.D. Forbus and P.J. Feltovich (Eds.)Smart Machines in Education: The Coming Revolution in Education Technology. AAAI/MIT Press, Menlo, Park, CA. [Retrieved October 22, 2012

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992b). The Jasper series as an example of anchored instruction: Theory, program, description, and assessment data. Educational Psychologist, 27(3), 291-315.

Vye, Nancy J.; Goldman, Susan R.; Voss, James F.; Hmelo, Cindy; Williams, Susan (1997). Complex mathematical problem solving by individuals and dyads

## Transformation

One of the key points I took away from Shulman’s article was the concept of transformation. This idea seems timeless to me and even though he was focused on the PCK framework the idea that “comprehended ideas must be transformed in some manner if they are to be taught.”(Shulman, L.S. 1987) can be applied even in our 21st century context.  He stated that preparation, representation, instructional selections, adaptations and tailoring are a continuum from “personal comprehension to preparing for the comprehension of others”(Shulman, L.S. 1987). I especially like how he describes adaption and tailoring as “fitting a suit” or as we describe it “a personalization of learning.”  I believe that technology has opened up this idea of  “tailoring” to such an extent that students if given the right technological tools can customize and explore learning goals in ways that my generation could never have imagined.  For example take Scratch if you run students through the google CS First lessons you notice they will start to build projects that are completely individualized and often done on their own time.  Tailoring is when you give them the ability to control their own learning and this when they start to self regulate.

I wanted to look at this quote in Mishra& Koehler’s paper on TPACK; “newer technologies often disrupt the status quo, requiring teachers to reconfigure not just their understanding of technology but of all three components.”Mishra, Koehler (2006).  This is struck a chord because 3 years ago I introduced Minecraft into my grade 5 class and it has really changed the way I teach my students.  When I want to take my students to Mars we build a rocket in Minecraft and blast off to the red planet. When I want them to learn about the Coast Salish people we run a survival server where they build a longhouse and have to find food and shelter before they perish.  When I want them to learn about France we build the Eiffel tower and place a French restaurant inside it complete with menu’s.  The virtual space has transformed the way I teach my students effecting my pedagogy and content. Before Minecraft I would certainly have used many interactive tools or apps to teach my students about these subjects but a Multi User Virtual Environment’s sandbox, interdisciplinary nature brings a level of excitement and intrinsic motivation from my students I have never before.  I have also had many other technologies guide my pedagogy and content in a new direction. Google cardboard VR, 3D printing and raspberry Pi’s are all fairly new pieces of “Tech” to me and have altered my PACK framework significantly.

References

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

Shulman, L.S. (1987). Knowledge and teaching. The foundations of a new reform. Harvard Educational Review, 57(1)1-23