Author Archives: vibhu vashisht

Forces at Rest

Misconception: If an object is at rest, no forces are acting on the object. (

Instruction Framework: T-GEM

Digital Technology: PhET

Lesson Sequence:

I. Warm up – Classroom

Use a toy car on a platform to do some demonstrations and ask students about forces that are acting on them:

  • push the toy car to the right constantly
  • push the toy car to the right and let go
  • push a toy car to the right then slow it down by pushing it in the opposite direction
  • let the toy car sit on the platform by itself

This warm up activity is designed to get students thinking about forces and to bring forward any misconceptions related to how forces make objects move, speed up, slow down, or be at rest.

II. Generate Hypotheses – Classroom

Show students examples where objects are at rest. Example 1 is of the toy car from activity I staying motionless on a platform.  Example 2 is a second toy car hanging from the ceiling with a string, once again at rest.  Ask students what kinds of forces might be involved in keeping the toy cars motionless.  Ask students to draw free body diagrams of the two examples, share with a partner, then ask for some volunteers to draw their free body diagrams on the board.

III. Evaluate Hypotheses – Computer Lab

Students are taken to the computer lab with their free body diagrams from the previous activity.  Students are directed to the Forces and Motions PhET simulation and are asked to replicate the toy car demonstrations they saw in activity I.  For a refresher the demonstrations are written on the board:

  • push the toy car to the right constantly.
  • push the toy car to the right and let go.
  • push a toy car to the right then slow it down by pushing it in the opposite direction
  • let the toy car sit on the platform by itself

Instead of the toy car, they are free to choose an object in the simulation.

Students are asked to make sure the “Force Vectors” box is checked so they can visualize the different forces acting on the object.

Students are asked to compare their own free body diagrams from activity II and those shown in the simulation.  Students are asked to write down in their own words the similarities and differences between their free body diagrams from activity I and activity II.

IV.  Modify Hypotheses – Computer Lab

Students are asked to summarize the forces that act on objects when the object is moving, and when the object is at rest based on activities I, II, and II.

V.  Apply – Classroom

Students are paired up and each pair is given a small bucket filled with sand.  One partner is asked to stand up and hold the buckets motionless using one hand.  The teacher asks the pairs to draw free body diagram of this situation that show all the forces acting on that small bucket helping it remain motionless.



Conceptual understanding in science topics that includes force and motion is difficult because of the number of different misconceptions students bring with them into the classroom. DEMİRCİ, N. (2003) states, “It is evident from the literature that students of different educational backgrounds and different ages have basic preconceptions or misconceptions about force and motion concepts” (p. 40-41).  Khan (2012) suggests that, “the use of GEM in science classrooms can produce significant students gains in inquiry skills and conceptual understanding..” (p. 59).  It is this conceptual understanding that is critical to tackle misconceptions among students.  Khan (2012) also states that, “…T-GEM enhances student understanding” (p. 62).  Enhancing GEM cycles with technology (noted as T-GEM) can helps improve conceptual understanding of science topics.


PhET simulations are an excellent example technology enhancement to the GEM cycle.

Wieman, Adams, and Perkins (2008) describe PhET simulations in great detail and speak very positively of this interactive program.  Wieman et al. (2008) enumerate common features found in PhET simulation that enhance learning as below:

  1. “familiar elements…to build real-world connections” (Wieman et al., p. 682)
  2. “visual representations to show the invisible (the motion of air molecules in a sound wave)” (Wieman et al., p. 682)
  3. “multiple representation to support deeper understanding” (Wieman et al., p. 682)
  4. “multiple directly manipulated variables” (Wieman et al., p. 682)
  5. “instruments for quantitative measurements and analysis (measuring tape, clock, and pressure meter)” (Wieman et al., p. 682)

These different features truly allow students to be immersed in the concept, try out different scenarios and test hypotheses instantly.  These features combined make PhET an excellent tool for inquiry.  Khan (2012) airs caution however that simulations cannot be used by themselves as stand alone learning tools as doing so, “…contributes to poor uptake in science classrooms and “clicking without thinking” amount students” (p. 59).  Hence it is vital to pair PhET simulations with sound teaching methodologies like the GEM cycle, anchored instruction, or the LfU model.


DEMİRCİ, N. (2003). Dealing with misconceptions about force and motion concepts in physics: A study of using web-based physics program. Hacettepe Üniversitesi Eğitim Fakültesi, (24), 40-47.

Khan, S. (2012). A Hidden GEM: A pedagogical approach to using technology to teach global warming. The Science Teacher, 79(8). This article was written about T-GEM with middle-schoolers.

Wieman, C. E., Adams, W. K., & Perkins, K. K. (2008). PHYSICS. PhET: Simulations that enhance learning. Science (New York, N.Y.), 322(5902), 682-683.


GLOBE – Anchored Instruction


Globe researchers have suggested that Globe is an example of anchored instruction. Do you agree or disagree with this statement and why?


After analysis of the GLOBE program, I agree it is an example of anchored instruction.  First, anchored instruction is summarized followed by the reasoning for how GLOBE fits this description.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (CGTV) (1992a) explored The Jasper Series and described it as an example of anchored instruction.  The group defined anchored instruction as an “…approach to instructional design, whereby instruction is situated in realistic, problem-rich setting (p. 78).  Prado and Gravoso (2011) also explain that “…this approach situates learning in realistic or authentic problems, which allows students to experience the kinds of complex, challenging problems that experts encounter…” (p. 62).  To summarize, anchored instruction is authentic, realistic and meaningful instruction that exposes students to challenging problems that experts face in the field of math or science.

GLOBE has two attributes that fit this description.  These attribute are detailed further.

I) Realistic Setting

Penuel and Means (2004) explain “GLOBE is an international environmental science and science education program focused on improving student understanding of science by involving young people in the collection of data for real scientific investigations” (p. 295).  The collection of data that pertains to real scientific investigations qualifies GLOBE to be situated in a realistic setting.  When students contribute to the program with data, they “…are not just collecting data as part of an isolated laboratory experience but as contributors to actual scientific studies” (Penuel and Means, 2004).

II) Experiencing Problems as Experts

Penuel and Means (2004) further explain that GLOBE is an example of a “…so-called network science [program]…[that draws]…on networked technologies such as the Internet to create virtual communities that engage students not just as learners but as scientists themselves, collecting and analyzing data that are part of larger scientific investigations” (p. 297).  GLOBE provides students with access to and influence scientific research by contributing data in their local environments.  Moreover, it provides scientists with an enormous amount of data gathered by students to study from.  It is a two way access between research and the classroom.

Hence, GLOBE is truly anchored instruction as it provides realistic research experiences to students in their own classrooms by collecting and submitting data that can be harnessed by scientists and experts in the respective fields of research.

Question for feedback from peers:

Penuel and Means (2004) describe barriers in data reporting as a result of surveying teachers that use the GLOBE program. The biggest barrier described is “…difficulty teachers face in integrating GLOBE with the curriculum (p. 307).  I personally found this to be both a problem and equally surprising.  With a push for more authentic teaching and learning experiences in math and science, I imagined it would be easier to implement the scientific process in the classroom using programs like GLOBE.  A second barrier to reporting data was “difficulty teachers face in finding time to report data” (p. 307).

In your opinion, what would be the necessary steps needed to reduce the barriers of curriculum integration and lack of time to report data in today’s math or science classroom?


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.

Penuel, W.R., & Means, B. (2004). Implementation variation and fidelity in an inquiry science program: Analysis of GLOBE data reporting patterns. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41(3), 294-315.

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).

Science – There’s an app for that!

Zydney and Warner (2016) conduct a comprehensive literature review of the use of mobile apps for science learning.  With increasing stress by district administrations on technology integration, BYOD programs, and school programs promoted by both Apple and Google, it is not surprising that innovations in the mobile and app industry “…have prompted educators and researchers to utilize these devices to promote teaching and learning” (p. 1).  I have also experienced the excitement with mobile apps through peers in the MET program as well as through PD sessions hosted by the Manitoba Teacher’s Society.

Zydney and Warner (2016) explain the advantages of mobile apps as being, “…interactive and engaging…” (p. 1).  Further, that apps “[allow] educators to teach without being restricted by time and place…” (p. 1).  Other posts this week stressed the drawback of time spent in class learning new technologies for both teachers and students, especially in lieu of discussing curriculum during that time.  Perhaps the use of mobile apps is a possible solution that in fact once adequately mastered by teacher and students, benefits from being used unrestricted of time and place.  A great example of this is the use of twitter I read about in a previous MET course.  A math teacher essentially tweeted interesting and complex math problems to students outside class and received responses from students thus facilitating learning beyond the scheduled math class during the day.

Zydney and Warner (2016) discovered 6 main features in their review that included, “technology-based scaffolding, location-aware functionality, visual/audio representation, digital knowledge-construction tools, digital knowledge-sharing mechanisms and differentiated roles” (p. 6).  It appears all these features follow very closely support the T-GEM and LfU models we have explored in module B.

Technology-based scaffolding and visual/audio representation plays a role in the initial stages of helping students develop their ideas.

Digital knowledge-construction tools and sharing mechanisms help in creating meaning, recording observed data, and making thinking visible for students; especially in a cooperative manner.

With the plethora of apps available today for learning science in conjunction with the omnipresence of mobile technology both in and out of the classroom, it appears mobile apps provide a great asset to teaching science content and conduct science inquiry both in and out of the classroom.

Question for peers:

Is there a mobile app that you have some experience with that in your opinion is excellent in teaching content and leading science inquiry?


Zydney, J. M., & Warner, Z. (2016). Mobile apps for science learning: Review of research. Computer & Education, 94, 1-17.

Summary Synthesis

The following is an analysis of the four learning environments that aid in using technology to teach math and science.  The analysis consists of similarities and differences between Anchored Instruction, WISE, LfU, and T-GEM.

  Anchored Instruction and Jasper SKI and WISE LfU and MyWorld T-GEM and Chemland
Similarities 1.       All models enforced the scientific process that began with creating hypotheses.  Once hypotheses are created, data is analyzed, problems are solved and the hypotheses are reworked, adjusted, and modified.

2.       All models also favor cooperation among students in groups so to teach students the vital skill of working with others in any field of math or science.

3.       All models require balance of direct instruction and inquiry led discussions to help students both learn content, and then use that content in the right contexts.



1. Mode of Operation Jasper used videos of complex problems that have inviting and engaging themes to help students learn content by problem solving. The WISE environment was an immersive experience where students were exposed to content, problems, and methods of recording and analyzing thoughts and data. The LfU model emphasized the importance of teaching with the right context and involved three phases: motivation, knowledge construction, and knowledge retrieval. T-GEM via Chemland was an enlightening model that provided students with the three phases of learning: generating hypotheses, evaluating these hypotheses and then modifying the hypotheses based on new data.
2. Type of technology involved Jasper focused primarily on creating videos with engaging dialogue. The WISE environment was a completely immersive and interactive computer environment with a large database of projects. The LfU model gave the teacher freedom to use technologies that would best fit the three phase model. Chemland was a collection where students could observe different ways of analyzing data simultaneously like videos, graphs, simulations etc.

As a direct result of analysis of these four learning models, important lessons have emerged.  The presence of math and science inquiry is vital in the classroom for students to truly understand and appreciate the ways experts and professionals essentially do math or do science.  These learning models are exemplary in guiding teachers to conduct projects in their classrooms that follow the scientific process and at the same time teach content as well.  I have learned through this analysis that content and the scientific process can be taught simultaneously instead of compartmentalizing them as instruction days versus lab days.

Free Falling with T-GEM

Free fall is discussed in the Projectile Motion unit in the Manitoba Grade 12 Physics Curriculum.  Rane (2015) states,”researchers have proved that free fall misconceptions are very common among the students” (p. 1).  Upon a literature review, Rane (2015) has also found that, “most of the students believe that…heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones” (p. 2).  Upon conducting analysis using a 15 item free fall diagnostic test, it was found that “…students [believed] heaver objects…take half the time [while others believed] lighter [objects]…move faster” (p. 6).  It is clear that the concept of free fall is challenging.  I have designed the following T-GEM lesson to assist students in understanding free fall and associated ideas like mass, acceleration, velocity, and velocity-time graphs.

Khan (2007) describes the GEM process as a “…cyclical pattern in which students [generate], [evaluate], and [modify] hypotheses…” (p. 877).

  1. Generate – students use a set of data or computer simulations to hypothesize relationships in the analyzed data.
  2. Evaluate – students use the identified relationships and test them out on a new case or example.
  3. Modify – students modify their original hypotheses and apply them to new cases.

Khan (2007) highlighted an important prerequisite to the GEM cycle.   It is important to have a small but important didactic lesson on introductory and background information that helps students make sense of the data in the first place.  If the students don’t know what they are looking at, seeing relationships in the data becomes difficult.

Free Fall Lesson

  1. Prerequisite Information – students are introduced to the Free Fall Tower gizmo by Explore Learning.  Students are given instruction on how to manipulate the gizmo and the data that can be collected from the gizmo.  They are given a brief review of the concepts of acceleration, velocity, and mass.  Graphs of velocity versus time are also reviewed for cases of acceleration and constant velocity.
  2. Generate – students are asked to determine if there are any relationships as they observe different objects free falling.  They are asked to manipulate their gizmo with air as the atmosphere in this part of the activity.  They are also asked to observe the graph section for trials.  Some objects appear to have constant velocity as they near the end of their fall. – The goal here is to generate a hypothesis that larger objects fall to the ground faster and to generate explanations for this observance.
  3. Evaluate – once students establish the relationship that larger objects fall to the ground faster – the students are asked to conduct similar manipulations, instead now with no air (vacuum) as the atmosphere.  They quickly ought to realize no matter which object combination they choose, all objects appear to fall at the same time, regardless of shape, size, or mass.  This is the discrepant event that will challenge their original hypotheses and force students to come up an adjustment to their original hypothesis.
  4. Modification – Students discuss the discrepant event and attempt to come up with new explanations for why all objects appear to fall at the same time.  Through discussion with the teacher’s guidance – students are helped to the conclusion that mass, size, shape have no impact on free fall as acceleration due to gravity affects all objects equally.  The issue of different objects falling at different times is because of their shape and air resistance when air is the atmosphere chosen.  Students apply their new explanations to in class experiments with real objects to further solidify the concept of free fall.


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

Rane, L. V. (2015). Investigating Student’s Conceptual Understanding of Free Fall Motion and Acceleration Due to Gravity. International Journal of Allied Practice, Research and Review, II(VI), 01-08.

5 Units of O-Negative…STAT! LfU in the ER Ward

Edelson (2001) provides a refreshing read on connecting content learning and science inquiry when in many science classrooms, the two are often isolated.  “In these classrooms, content is taught didactically…scientific practices are taught through structured laboratory experiments” (Edelson, 2001).  So in an attempt to unify the two structurally and temporally different practices, the LfU model was described and applied to the project WorldWatcher.

Edelson (2001) describes 4 principles of the LfU model:

  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 put to use 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 put to use in the correct context, so that it is readily available for future retrieval.

With these ideas in mind, I imagined it would be interesting to design a project of my own similar to WorldWatcher with the a balance of computer and non computer activities.

Project: Save Your Patient

Activity 1 (Motivation)

Students are shown a dramatic video of an ER ward where hospital staff requests for some units of a specific blood type.  The teacher opens up the discussion asking students about the different blood types students know.  During this brainstorming session, the different blood types are put on the whiteboard.  The teacher puts students in groups and instructs them to find out the blood types of their peers.  The teacher opens up a second class discussion on why we have the different blood types that we do, the reasons for them, and why blood types might be important leading back to the original video on why the hospital staff wanted that specific blood type for the incoming patient.  Ideas are listed and discussed on the board.  This activity is done so that students become curious about blood typing and blood transfusions.  Once enough discussion has been achieved, the teacher launches into activity 2.

Activity 2 (Knowledge Construction)

Edelson (2001) describes knowledge construction as “…the raw material from which a learner constructs new knowledge [that] can be firsthand experience, communication with others, or a combination of the two.  Activity 2 is a teacher-led discussion on the concepts of red blood cells, antigens, and antibodies using analogies like donuts and sprinkles, animations and videos for visualization purposes, as well as manipulative models using tools like Play-Doh so that different learning styles are touched upon during the activity.  This is a good chance for students to compare their hypotheses from activity 1 and understand how their initial thoughts matched with the knowledge of blood typing and blood transfusions.

Students are then taken to the computer lab where they all have access to the Blood Typing game (2017) presented by that helps students practice blood transfusions on fictitious patients in attempt to save their lives.  This activity connects well with the initial dramatic video shown to students and it further puts this knowledge in the right context for students (Point 3 of the 4 LfU principles).

Activity 3 (Knowledge Refinement)

Knowledge Refinement must follow knowledge construction.  It is vital for students to take the declarative knowledge from activity 2 and turn it into procedural knowledge: a point well made by Edelson (2001) that “…to insure accessibility and applicability, refinement must follow construction” (p. 359).

In activity 3 students are put into pairs and each pair is asked to create their own alien beings that have their own set of blood types.   They are now free to name their own antigens, their own antibodies, and most importantly, create blood transfusion rules correctly as they learned them in activity 2.

In the second leg of activity 3 – each pair of students swaps the alien blood type and transfusion data with another pair and creates patient scenarios for the other pair’s alien hospital in which different patients are rushed into the hospital in dire need of alien blood transfusions.  Once patient scenarios are created, the original pairs then solve the problems of giving their new patients the right type of blood transfusions.

Thus in activity 3: students use their knowledge form activity 2, create problems that then must be solved using the rules correct rules of blood transfusion.

This paper was a very interesting read in allowing an intertwined pairing of learning content and then using that content to solve problems.  This is important as knowledge is learned in the right context, used in the right context, in hopes that it can be retrieved in those familiar contexts in the future.

Question for peers:

I may actually try out this project with students either online (with adjustments due to the nature of distance online learning) or in a brick-and-mortar classroom.  Suggestions, feedback, and critique would be very welcomed on this project.




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.

The Blood Typing Game (2017). Retrieved from:

Chemical Reactions on Slowing Down Climate Change (ID 19732)

The WISE project proves to be an inspiring online solution to motivating students to think, collaborate, predict, experiment, analyze, and synthesize thoughts in science.  I see using this platform for my online classes to take my students further in their thinking.

Initially, I found the authoring tool to be a little overwhelming like all new things but soon I got the hang of editing.  Below are a list of edits and the though process behind them.

1. Step 1.2: This is a survey that has two questions. Question 1 asks a yes/no question on humans having a role in climate change and question 2 asks Explain your answer.  I changed question 2 to “If Yes, explain two  ways that humans have affected climate change.  If No, give two reasons why humans have not played a role in climate change”. Thought Process: Using SKI theory, it us much better to to ask students questions with little more focus to get them thinking about certain ideas, in this case the intention is to find out exactly how students think humans impact climate change, simply saying explain your answer doesn’t really provide enough scaffolding to develop the direction of thought as the teacher visions.

2.Step 1.3: This page launches straight into the greenhouse gas effect that explains how the atmosphere keeps our land temperature warm.  I think there is an assumption here that students already know what a greenhouse is and how it works so a video on greenhouses themselves was added first.  Thought Process: To scaffold the connection between a greenhouse and the greenhouse effect of gases in the atmosphere, I added a video explaining greenhouses first, and ask students to watch the second video on greenhouse gas effect after. 

3. The rest of the WISE project is laid out well asking insightful questions. However, the project discusses a number of different topics like greenhouse effect, the role played by CO2, and hydrocarbons, stoichiometry, limiting reactants etc.  I would break up this WISE project into different sections throughout the course, coming back to it as an ongoing assignment as more of the background knowledge is discussed.  Thought Process: It is important to first get students comfortable with basic knowledge first regarding the atmosphere, gases, reactions, stoichiometry, and limiting reactants first before connecting these ideas to climate change.  Hence it is not fair to discuss all of these topics and apply them to climate change at once. 

Possible Lesson Plan in sequence that may take several classes.  It would be important to address any misconceptions students might have about the atmosphere and its gases during the explanation phases.

  1. Explanation of the atmosphere in general and the make up of its gases.
  2. Explanation of terms like radiation and heat energy and their connection with earth’s temperature.
  3. First exposure to the WISE project connecting the concept of a greenhouse to greenhouse effect of the atmosphere.
  4. Explanation of chemical reactions in general along with the concept of stoichiometry and limiting reactants.
  5. Continuing the WISE project further to complete the discussion on how chemical reactions are impacting climate change.


Issues with Jasper

I’d like to tackle the first question posted in this week’s discussion activity:

What perceived issue or problem are the Jasper materials responding to? Do you agree that this is an issue or problem? What does the current literature that you have read say about this issue? How is this issue addressed in the design of the Jasper materials? In what ways do contemporary videos available for math instruction and their support materials (c.f. Khan Academy, Crash Course, BBC Learn “Classroom Clips” and “Academic Earth”, video clips in Number Worlds, or others) address or not address these issues?

What perceived issue or problem are the Jasper materials responding to?

Jasper series videos respond to the lack of interesting real world problems in the classroom.  The videos provide a creative way for students to work together and solve complex problems.  The creators even go further and suggest the students are not alone in this adventure by suggesting other schools and other students just like them are trying right now to save the eagle!

Do you agree that this is an issue or problem?

Yes and no. I do agree with the issue that classrooms need to have more instruction that places students in an environment where they have to work together to solve complex problems. However, without the proper support and background knowledge, it becomes just too easy for students to construct the wrong kind of knowledge.  Park and Park (2012) when commenting on Problem-Based Learning (PBL), that is essentially the category the Jasper series falls under, argue that, “…students [fail] to learn essential concepts and principles, leaving them unable to construct the “right” knowledge required to solve real-life engineering tasks” (p. E14).  These researchers criticize PBL in the engineering context because often times students fail to grasp the basic  knowledge, that can lead them to construct knowledge in the group activities that may not even be accurate, let alone help them in any way on their job site.

Dana Bjornson and Darren Low also made great points in the post by Dana on depending on PBL as Dana suggested, “I would urge educators to digest methodologies like Jasper in small quantities.  These approaches are not the magic pill that will solve all of our problems” (Bjornson, 2017). Darren also showed his reluctance in depending on Jasper series completely as he suggested he would be, “…a little more hesitant to use the series solely as a method of teaching a core concept” (Bjornson, 2017).

So in that terms, no, I don’t agree that the Jasper series is the only solution to help students learn.  For the grade five to eight students: it is important to teach them basic math skills first so they have the knowledge to start problem solving on how to save the eagle.

What does the current literature that you have read say about this issue?

Park and Park (2012) assert the claim that PBL helps students become effective problem solvers but warn of “…their ineffectiveness to equip students with the basic and essential knowledge for problem-solving” (p. E17).  On the contrary, there are researchers that are proponents of PBL and the Jasper Series.  The Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (CTGV), creators of the Jasper series frame the need for this problem-based activity due to “…the concern about existing tests…not [seeming] very authentic” (CTGV, 1992).  They also “…emphasize the benefits of anchoring or situating instruction in meaningful problem-solving contexts that allow one to simulate in the classroom some of the advantages of apprenticeship learning” (p. 69).  Moreover, the CTGV group (1992) explains use of the Jasper series helps “…students and teachers [make] learning more meaningful because they understand when, why, and how to use various procedures, concepts, and skills” (p. 78).  Shyu (2000) conducted a study to ascertain the effects of video based anchored instruction in Taiwanese classrooms, a culture where memorization and studying to the test or exam are highly valued for students to attend the best universities.  Shyu (2000) discovered “…video-based anchored instruction [provided] a more motivating environment that [enhanced] students’ problem-solving skills” (p. 57).  So it appears the literature summarizes that indeed PBL is valuable to teach students problem solving, however, I understand that without basic and background knowledge, first, problem solving may just as easily lead to misunderstandings and misconceptions while trying to construct knowledge on concepts.

How is this issue addressed in the design of the Jasper materials?

The issue of providing interesting, authentic, real world like problems is addressed in the Jasper Series by giving students a story.  A story about saving an eagle that is trapped and can be saved only by using an air plane called ultralight.  The creators give students many different scenarios on gas mileage, gas tank capacity, headwind, and tailwind to help students problem solve at a high level.

In what ways do contemporary videos available for math instruction and their support materials address or not address these issues?

I’m not sure how well Khan Academy or Crash Course are similar to Jasper Series as these materials almost entirely focus on telling the information in a visually appealing way that would help students remember.  They don’t necessarily place students into real world problem situations.  These materials essentially are more for review rather than learning something new.

Question for peer feedback:

Now that we’ve seen the Jasper Series and anchored instruction in action, how would you use it in the classroom? As an introduction to a complex topic or as practice in problem solving after learning some basics first?

Thank you,



Bjornson, D. (2017) My Love-Hate Relationship With The Jasper Series. Retrieved from:

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

Park, K., & Park, S. (2012). Development of professional engineers’ authentic contexts in blended learning environments. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43(1), E14-E18.

Shyu, H. Y. C. (2000). Using video‐based anchored instruction to enhance learning: Taiwan’s experience. British Journal of Educational Technology, 31(1), 57-69.

The tales of blood – PCK and TPACK

Shulman (1986) differentiates between content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK).  It is true the teacher must be an expert in the content she wishes to teach but at the same time must also be an expert in how to teach that content.  This is where Shulman (1986) suggests PCK is, “…the most useful form of representation of those ideas, the most powerful analogies, illustrations, examples, explanations, and demonstrations…” (p. 9).  The ideas he speaks of are the content, the concepts, the specific learning outcomes outlined in the curriculum guides.  It is essentially not enough to know the stuff, but to know how to help students know that stuff that you know so well.

An example of PCK I have used in the past that has anecdotally worked well for me is the topic of blood types and blood transfusions, hence the title of this post :).

Blood types and transfusions shows up in the biology 30s Manitoba curriculum under the circulatory system.  It is a challenge for students to understand how we have 4 different blood types, and why getting certain red blood cells (RBCs) can be beneficial to a patient and why others can be catastrophic.  In order to help illustrate these ideas I have used the analogy of donuts. I did not come up with this analogy, simply found it online and borrowed it like any teachers with the best of intentions at heart.

Basically the analogy goes that RBCs are like donuts, some have A sprinkles, some have B sprinkles, some have A and B sprinkles and some have no sprinkles.  Sprinkles are analogous to antigens found poking out on the surface of these RBCs that help identify the type of they are either A, B, AB, or O.  The Rh sprinkle is tacked on after when students are comfortable with the A, B, AB, and O.

Then comes the challenging part of identifying correct versus wrong blood transfusions where students often get lost.  Here the presence of antibodies is explained and the Blood Typing Came from ( is used to help gamify transfusions and help the development of the concept in an engaging way.  I suppose this is where I use technology and essentially  I am using TPACK at this point in the lesson.

I enjoy teaching this lesson as I get to talk about donuts and the game is fun to play.



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

Blood Typing Game. ( Retrieved from:

The Virtual Context

The major theme that seems to be emerging for myself as I progress through the course is the focus on brick-and-mortar classrooms of math and science and how technology can be used to make these spaces technology- enhanced.  We saw this in the video cases presented in Module A.

I’m curious however of how virtual classrooms fit into the scope of the course so far.  If a technology-enhanced space is a classroom in a school with tools like smartboards or motion sensor equipment connected to a computer, how can a virtual classroom qualify to be a technology-enhanced space?

For example, Elluminte Live is a popular conferencing tool used by virtual schools for live interaction between teacher and students.  Is it appropriate to say the Elluminate Live window of one live class is the “classroom”?  If so, would tools like powerpoints, simulations, google docs, LMS based discussions, quizzes, chat systems allow for the Elluminate live classroom to be technology-enhanced?

It would be great to get some feedback from peers!