All three readings for this week focused on the application of the modeling teaching methods in the classroom. Lehrer’s Chapter 2, “What Kind of Explanation is a Model?” discussed the difficulties of using the modeling system in the classroom, and then offered answers to the issues. Chapter 5, “Reconsidering the Role of Experiment” also claims that modeling and argumentation should be the focus when teaching students about scientific inquiry. Jackson’s article on modeling instruction covers the statistics of successes when using the modeling teaching method in the classroom.
One theme, from this week’s readings, that I found interesting, was the idea of allowing failure when using the modeling system in classes. This sounds like a new theme, but it actually connects back to class and earlier readings. Hazen and Lehrer discussed how scientific theories and laws are models of the world that have been criticized and revised over large periods of time, in last week’s readings. Lehrer’s modeling in the classroom seems to be a representation of that revision process. Often, learning happens most when a student has made a ‘mistake.’ When the students were presented with the mold in their compost experiments, they thought that is was not a living organism. However, with a little help from the teacher, the students found that was not true. They adjusted their thinking and perception of the event, completed another experiment, and then revised and improved their original model. This then led them to the idea of rot.
In an earlier class, someone mentioned that a science class is basically a smaller scientific community. Lehrer, and Jackson, seem to be pointing in this direction, in their articles. While the students are split into groups to complete specific experiments, the learning happens when all the students come back together and discuss what they found. Students from other groups can critique and analyze what the presenting group found. Together, the students are able to find patterns that suggest something they were not expecting. The argumentation in the collaborative part of the laboratory also pushes students to adapt a common language, such as defining “dark,” in order to compare and report information. This was also mentioned in the blogs from last week.
Lehrer’s chapter brings up some concerns I had in earlier readings, as well as some we discussed in class. These sets of experiments and revisions were completed over weeks for the classes. Enough time and resources are always a problem. Also, Lehrer mentioned that younger students have a harder time making the connection between the world and a representation of it. How early should the modeling teaching method be implemented? Lehrer said, that if the students are given a ‘scaffolding,’ young children can learn how to model, but it still goes back to time and resource management in the classroom.