# Author Archives: tyler kolpin

## Balancing the scale with T-GEM

Elementary Science

Topic: Mass

Misconception: That the size and shape of (an) object(s) affects the balance on a scale even if the weight is the same

Students can sometimes get confused between the type of objects you may put on both sides of a scale and its impact on balance.  Some students think that if you put 1 pound of paper clips on one side of a scale and a 1 pound cube, the scale will not balance out.

Materials:

• Balance scales
• Computers
• Different objects

Lesson:

• Assess students prior knowledge by asking them when using a balance scale, what is the relationship between the length of the arm and the mass of the objects that balance on it? Do different materials impact the balance of the scale?
• Ask students to discuss with a partner how they will be able to get the scale to balance using different materials
• Ask students to come up with a theory for how to get the scale to balance perfectly level
• Ask students to use different materials to place on each side of the balance to see if smaller less heavy objects on one side and a single heavy object on the other of equal weight will influence the balance scale.
• Have students hypothesize and test out if adjusting where the object(s) are placed on the scale influences
• In partners, have the groups come up with some new rules for understanding weight and mass.
• Have students use the PhET “Balancing Act” to test out different materials and their weight. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/balancing-act

This lesson draws upon the T-GEM model.  According to Khan (2007) this model focuses on three important steps: Generate, Evaluate, and Modify.  In this lesson students are asked to generate their own ideas around mass /weight and how different objects will influence the balance of the scale. The students compare their predictions with their partners and then test out their theories that they have come up with.  After testing their hypothesis various times, the students then come up with some scenarios why different objects and lengths of arms will influence the balance scale. This is the ‘evaluate’ portion of the T-GEM.  The last stage of the lesson allows students to modify their original beliefs about weight and mass.  They are able to gain an new understanding regarding the relation of weight and mass to balance.  The extension part of the lesson is meant to give students further time to experiment with the ideas that they toyed with in the lesson. As Stieff et al (2003) discusses, it’s important to give students opportunities to give students virtually unlimited opportunities to experiment with real world objects.  Using visualizations allows students to understand the differences between physical variables and the equilibrium posting (Stieff et al, 2003). Students have the opportunity to test what they’ve learned  about balance and make predictions about how different objects will make the plank balance.

References:

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

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

## Lascaux Caves

http://www.lascaux.culture.fr/#/en/00.xml

This website gives students and interactive tour of the ancient caves. These caves used to be open to the public but had to be closed due to deterioration of the paintings on the wall.  Virtual Visitors are able to explore the cave through a digital videos 3D tour and zoom in on the different artifacts that are all over the cave walls. I used this activity with my grade 7 students last year and they thought it was amazing to explore.

## Increasing Engagement through Digital Augmentation

When looking all of the different options for websites that help students construct and communicate knowledge, I was blown away by the opportunities available to engage students with research that scientists are conducting around the world.  One of the websites that really interested me that I’m looking forward to trying with my class is the Expedition around the Canada (https://canadac3.ca/en/expedition/) for the 150th anniversary. This is an incredible opportunity for students to connect so many facets of science with Canada. I can see how this endeavor could be tied into multiple grade levels in the curriculum.  As the expedition travels through 6 ecozones, sciencitsts will conduct research to share with Canadians, talk to local communities, and discuss ways to protect the environment in live forums.

At schools we have environmental committees that allow students and staff to discuss ways to protect their environment.  This is also a topic that comes up in class discussions in social studies and science.  Involving a group of students in this kind of activity gives them the opportunity to discover what the regions are really like…at the present time. Rather than just reading about them in a textbook (that’s probably out of date) students can see the different ecosystems, ongoing methods of environmental protection.

According to Carraher (1985) the presence of physical items acts as a facilitating factor in allows students to understand a particular concept. There are ample opportunities through exploring the arctic that will allow students to connect and see first-hand how experiments are being conducted and how reconciliation is being undertaken in the Aboriginal communities.

In Yoon et al (2011) it was observed that digital augmentation resulted in increased levels of interest and engagement. Opportunities to provide experiences outside of the classroom environment through educational technologies can assist in the development of conceptual knowledge (Yoon et al, 2011). Students are then able to apply real world examples to their skillset in the areas of collecting data, making predictions, drawing conclusions, and theorizing about different phenomena. Sometimes just providing digital augmentation alone can provide huge gains even with no other scaffolds according to Yoon et al (2011). I wonder how educators can ensure that students challenge themselves when participating in digital augmentation? Would creating their own learning objectives translate into more engagement?

References:

• Yoon, S. A., Elinich, K., Wang, J., Steinmeier, C., & Tucker, S. (2012). Using augmented reality and knowledge-building scaffolds to improve learning in a science museum. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 7(4), 519-541. doi:10.1007/s11412-012-9156-x

• Carraher, T. N., Carraher, D. W., & Dias Schliemann, A. (1985). Mathematics in the streets and in schools. The British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 3(1), 21.

## Disembodiment before Embodiment

In the readings this week regarding embodied learning, I was interested in the applications of embodied learning theories to mathematics. The ability to understand numbers and unknowns is a concept that many students struggle with at some point in their academics.  Being able to experience the learning through more tactile means adds another dimension on learning to students.  Also, using signs and symbols to represent numerical equations can assist in students understanding on mathematical phenomena. Radford (2009) emphasizes that in order for students to embody their learning, they must first disembody their previous notions of spatial awareness. When students have partially developed ideas of mathematical concepts, it can be much more difficult for them to learning through embodied methods.

In the paper by Carraher et al (1985), the authors noted how children that had little to know formal education in Brazail were about to understand and compute mathematical problems as they bartered for goods in the markets. This demonstrates how the way we go about learning math in more formal education settings is not the only way to build real world skills.  For a project with my grade 4s, I gave them the opportunity to plan a party with a budget of \$100. We walked to our nearby grocery store so that students could decide on products they wanted based on how many guests they were having. They had to use their math skills as well as planning skills to make sure they’re guests would be satisfied. I think this is the closed I’ve come to teaching embodied learning in mathematics. I’m curious what new educational technologies will emerge for educations to use in the classroom.

Some questions I have :

Embodied learning to me seems to be more of a teaching strategy that educators turn to when more traditional disembodied methods are not working. How can we make embodied learning more relevant and integrated into the curriculum?

The second questions ties into the first… If we use embodied learning in the classroom, how do we know it’s working? It seems that we may flip back to the traditional assessment formats to measure its success. I was wondering what types of measurable assessment can we conduct to demonstrate its effectiveness?

References:

Carraher, T. N., Carraher, D. W., & Dias Schliemann, A. (1985).

British journal of developmental psychology: Mathematics in the streets and in schools British Psychological Society.

Radford, L. (2003) Gestures, Speech and Sprouting Signs: A Simiotic Cultures Approach to Students’ Types of Generaltizations. Mathematical Thinking and Learning

## Synthesizing TELEs

TELEs offer a wonderful and engaging environment for students to learn in. In module B, we looked at many educational technologies that each offered a unique learning experience for students depending on the subject area. As knowledge becomes more interconnected through the internet and programs becomes more open source, it is important for educators to embrace new models. Over the past few weeks, we’ve investigated Anchored Instruction, Web Inquiry Science Environments,  and Learning for Use and T-GEM which have each had their own affordances for generating comprehensive lessons through a specific pedagogical approach.  Through the Jasper Series, students were able to investigate certain topics related to mathematics. However, these problems that they were investigating were rooted in real life situations that they may come across. This allows students to understand the context of the concepts they were learning.  In SKI and WISE, teachers were able to set up a learning environment that allowed students to interactively engage with interactive models and content related to many areas of science. Teachers were able to create projects for the students to complete as well as access ones that other teachers had created for free.  Existing content could even be modified to suit the needs of any classroom. With Learning for Use, Geographic Information Systems were explored. Students have the opportunity to situate their learning and manipulated different mapping software in their community or country. With GIS you are able to have students create mapping using different projections to bring more meaning to their work. The students are able to learn valuable data collection skills and how to input that data into a mapping program to visual their understanding of a phenomena. The T-GEM framework is evident in the program Chemland. This programs allows students to simulate different interactions between chemicals, metals, and other materials. It also allows for the altering of other variables. The T-GEM framework can be applied to a variety of contexts so that students can enhance their understanding of a concept through various simulations.

What I like about using the WISE program is that students are able to engage in a very structured lesson that scaffolds concepts as they explore various lessons. I like how teachers are able to modify and share their work for other teachers are able to use it. Platforms that embrace the sharing of knowledge seem to be more robust because many experts are able to have a hand in the project. WISE is a great program for an elearning or blended learning program.

## T-GEM and Earth’s rotation

Challenging Concept:

The concept that I choose was one that my grade 4 class struggled with early on in the school year.  Understanding the lunar cycle, phases of the moon, along with the tilt of the earth’s axis and its impact on the various seasons was a challenge for them. I used various demonstrations with a globe, flashlight and pictures on the projector.  When they completed an extension activity afterwards, many of them still couldn’t explain how those things worked.

3 Step T-Gem cycle

 Discuss the moon and Earth’s gravity and rotation Generate Demonstrate the rotation of the Earth using a model around the Sun. Use a flashlight to shine on various parts of the and Earth to show where light would hit and various times of the year and day. Ask questions about where the students think it is cold/hot, daylight, nighttime Evaluate Allow students to create their own diagrams of the Earth’s rotation and demonstrate how that impacts the various seasons. Modify Ask students to consider their original ideas then consider how the various shapes of the moon are impacted by the rotation around the Earth

http://highered.mheducation.com/olcweb/cgi/pluginpop.cgi?it=swf::800::600::/sites/dl/free/0072482621/78778/Lunar_Nav.swf::Lunar%20Phases%20Interactive

I found a website the models lunar phases and provides students with a few different vantage points with regards to positing on the moon and what that would look like on earth based on the different times and days of the year. You can see the sun rise and fall as the clock moves throughout the day, the moon’s position around the earth change, as well as the calendar year moving through each day.

## Creating Spatial Awareness

It is important for teachers to find ways to LFU is a way for teachers to support learners by allowing them to situate their knowledge so that concepts will be easily accessible when they require it (Edelson, 2001). Using place based education has benefits beyond simply learning new software. Students need to be able to bridge the gap between the real and digital worlds (Perkins et al, 2010).  It is valuable to teach students how to use GIS when it comes to place-based learning because it gives them a tangible experience that they can relate to. It is important that students establish spatial awareness.  Perkins et al (2010) demonstrates that students are able to improve their understanding on spatial awareness and grasp geographical primitives using place specific exercises with GIS. Perkins et al (2010) further states that GIS can be used as an effective classroom tool to topics in areas such as ecology.

The Create-a-World project is an activity that I wish to explore a bit more in my own teaching practice. The goal of the Create-a-World project is to have the students formulate a hypothesis and collect and evaluate data as well as create visualization of that data using data analysis tools. As Edelson (2001) explains, Create-a-World  allows students to refine their inquiry skills and participate in guided investigation activites. As a result, students will be engaged in something meaningful to them that incorporates a wide variety of skills sets.

Fortunately, I had am quite familiar with GIS software, as I took a few courses in this area in my undergraduate degree. I used ArcGIS at the grade 7 level to map out ancient civilizations with my students as well as for making maps to visualize environmental issues. When I first took GIS and digital cartography courses, the software was not very user friendly, and it would take hours of trouble shooting to get the right projection that you were looking for.  There seems to be an explosion of GIS software now that is very intuitive and user friendly. Creating GIS maps is something that does not require a professional anymore.  Learners are able to experiment with GIS at a very young age and develop some very interesting maps.

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

Perkins, N., Hazelton, E., Erickson, J., & Allan, W. (2010). Place-based education and geographic information systems: Enhancing the spatial awareness of middle school students in Maine. Journal of Geography, 109(5), 213-218.

## Genetic Diversity

For some reason I don’t think my last post published properly or I may have posted it to the wrong section. So here it is again.

The Project that I choose to examine in WISE was called “Space Colony – Genetic Diversity and Survival”.  The project is presented as a case study. The students were presented with a “mission briefing” where they were given two options for the survival of “colonists” on a planet based on their genetic makeup.  They would then have to come up with a hypothesis for why the route they choose would be the best options. The project then took the students through the molecular level of biodiversity that included cell division, DNA, mutations, single celled and multicellular organisms, etc. After learning about cells and how human cloning works, the project then zoomed out and gave students the opportunity to think about the big picture. Ultimately, this should help them understand the original problem that was presented at the beginning of the project with regards to which planet would be best for the colonists.

When experimenting with the project,  I was able to add in animations that I found online to illustrate cell division. This provides students with a visual of how the different components of the cells reproduce in order to create genetic diversity. I also added more areas where student were able to explain their thinking, rather than multiple choice. Kim & Hannefin (2011) discuss that WISE is about creating experiences that challenge that students to a particular task, scaffolding content in a way to expand student problem solving. The projects that I explored in WISE demonstrate a high degree of interaction with various models. I like how they incorporate some interpretation of data, blending the mathematics and sciences together. Williams et al (2004) discusses how teacher are able to gain a deeper understanding of the curriculum goals in order to support students’ learning and make their thinking visible.

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

## Genetic Diversity

The Project that I choose to examine in WISE was called “Space Colony – Genetic Diversity and Survival”.  The project is presented as a case study. The students were presented with a “mission briefing” where they were given two options for the survival of “colonists” on a planet based on their genetic makeup.  They would then have to come up with a hypothesis for why the route they choose would be the best options. The project then took the students through the molecular level of biodiversity that included cell division, DNA, mutations, single celled and multicellular organisms, etc. After learning about cells and how human cloning works, the project then zoomed out and gave students the opportunity to think about the big picture. Ultimately, this should help them understand the original problem that was presented at the beginning of the project with regards to which planet would be best for the colonists.

When experimenting with the project,  I was able to add in animations that I found online to illustrate cell division. This provides students with a visual of how the different components of the cells reproduce in order to create genetic diversity. I also added more areas where student were able to explain their thinking, rather than multiple choice. Kim & Hannefin (2011) discuss that WISE is about creating experiences that challenge that students to a particular task, scaffolding content in a way to expand student problem solving. The projects that I explored in WISE demonstrate a high degree of interaction with various models. I like how they incorporate some interpretation of data, blending the mathematics and sciences together. Williams et al (2004) discusses how teacher are able to gain a deeper understanding of the curriculum goals in order to support students’ learning and make their thinking visible.

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

## Motivation is key

After reading the articles on anchored instruction and watching the videos, I feel like anchored instruction is deeply rooted in designing a learning experience that motivates students to apply curriculum in a meaningful way to real life problem solving situations that they can related to.  In the Jasper project, the videos were able to provide students with a visualization of a problem to grab their attention and pull them into the problem.  The videos are able to provide students with an opportunity to explore a topic without ever feeling like they were just doing math or science. Gravaso et al (2011) describes how important it is for students to develop an ability to analyze data and develop statistical reasoning skills.  Their study further shows that teacher-centred learning is not always the best approach or a necessary approach to students learning.  Students in the study by Gravaso et al (2011) demonstrated that they were able to solve problems with little teacher intervention.  I’m wondering how anchored instruction is able to adapt to the diversity of learners in the classroom.  I have a class with some students who are super weak in mathematics and some that are quite advanced. In an assignment like the Jasper project, it seems like different videos would have to be given to the same grouping of students. I wonder if a mathematical model to follow for problems solving should be presented prior to commencing anchored instruction. Some student may be motivated to figure out the problem, but some may not even know where to start.

Prado, M. M., & Gravoso, R. S. (2011). Improving high school students’ statistical reasoning skills: A case of applying anchored instruction. Asia-Pacific Education Researcher (De La Salle University Manila), 20(1)