Monday, September 1, 2014

Week 2 Memo

Week 2 Memo

(What Kind of Explanation is a Model?, Reconsidering the Role of Experiment)

In the Chapter 2 reading, Lehrer and Schauble aim to, “…better understand what makes this form of reasoning [Modeling] demanding and what forms of instruction best support its long-term development” (Pg. 10).  They are trying to understand the relationship between the development and learning of modeling, as well as how to effectively facilitate this teaching and learning tool in a school setting.  The chapter outlines some of what makes modeling challenging.  This includes what was talked about last week in discussion about lack of resources and limited time, as well as concern that students must learn what is on the common core.  The chapter then goes into more detail about introducing new students to modeling and doing it in a way that allows students to participate in the invention and revision of models.  The chapter describes arranging the conditions for seeing, inventing measures, developing representational competence, and developing an epistemology of modeling.  In the end they sum it up when they state, “tasks that provoke variability of solutions and representational forms are more likely to support the development of a broad representational repertoire and an understanding of audience and design trade-offs”(Pg. 20).

In the chapter 5 reading, the focus is on experimentation and the role it should play in science education.  The authors are interested in the development of scientific reasoning and how elementary school students learn to participate in this form of argument (Pg.1).  The chapter explains that experimentation alone is not a good thing.  Students need background context in rhetoric, representation, and modeling if the experimentation is to be a meaningful activity.  Without the background context, experiments may not help teach students much of anything at all.  The chapter goes into much more detail about teaching effective modeling and even gives a few detailed examples.  These examples highlight how teachers can help students learn through modeling, as well as how to use experimentation effectively.

The theme that stood out most to me in both the readings involved the role of experiments in effective modeling.  The articles had a focus on how to build structure around experimentation as a teacher, so that teachers can provide the right support to help students develop learning through modeling.  I found the examples of modeling to be very helpful in understanding the process.  I was shocked to read about how many students couldn’t give an explanation of what the purpose of the experiment they just did was.  It makes me wonder how many scientific experiments I have done in school where I really didn’t understand what I was doing or why.  The whole idea of pre-made experiment kits with instructions and how that takes away all of the inquiry was something I never really thought of.  The week 2 readings definitely helped me get a better understanding of how the process of modeling works. It really showed how interconnected both the teacher and student are in the process of developing effective modeling skills.

1 comment:

  1. I was also fairly surprised that the students could not explain what the purpose of their given experiment was. The particular example I am thinking of is the lesson in rock erosion. I wish that Lehrer had given more details about that classroom dynamic because I wonder if the teacher prompted them with any questions about what they were observing. Did she go over the erosion results and discuss what they meant? Or maybe Lehrer intervened before a class discussion could occur. I guess we will never know.
    I find it ironic that pre-made experiment kits are a major resource for a lot of schools in the Nashville school system. Although I do not know much about them, I gather that they are fairly prescriptive, rather than investigative, in their experiments. Perhaps a teacher could modify the kit so that more modeling is involved though!


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