Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Week 3 Explain and Argue

Reiser and Sampson both made argument for the advantages of instruction models that emphasize the importance of argumentation and explanation. Both of the papers were reviews on how well the instruction models worked in other studies. Examples of how the models were used in classrooms and how the students successfully completed the models’ lessons were given. Reiser studied the model given in the book Framework, and Sampson studied the Argument-Driven Inquiry (ADI) method.

Student discussion and peer critique was a largely important piece of the methods puzzles. This is to encourage students to make solid arguments, including quality evidence and good communication, to convince others their explanation is correct. If the argument is not thorough, the students’ peers can critique the argument, and the students have to refine their argument. Reiser and Sampson, just like Lehrer, want students to learn, not just disciplinary knowledge, but also scientific inquiry. They both repeatedly compared their instruction methods to how scientists in a scientific community reach answers to questions. They believe that students in the classroom should understand how a scientific community works to build knowledge, like it has throughout the ages. This reminds me of Hazen’s paper of the history of science. We also brought up in class that this method might motivate or interest students more, instead of the simple and repeated experiments we were exposed to.

These instructional methods are, interestingly, similar to Lehrer’s modeling instruction method. Lehrer may focus more on the importance of modeling to a student’s understanding, but in all three instructional methods, students experiment and then use models to discuss and critique each other’s work to reach an improved answer to a question. The actual experimentation is just a small piece for all three authors. ‘Failure’ is necessary to students, according to Lehrer, Reiser, and Sampson, as well as minimal, but good, scaffolding on the teacher’s part. ADI, A Framework, and modeling seem to be virtually the same teaching method, just with different names.

One idea that Sampson puts forth in his ADI method is the possibility of integrating other subjects into the lessons. Good communication skills, particularly in reading and writing, are crucial for the students to make a good argument. I remember doing a science project, creating an imaginary zoo, in seventh grade that crossed over into language arts, social studies, and math. This type of method would require a little more cooperation, effort, and time between teachers, but I believe that this could be a good way to encourage students to make connections between subject areas. I wonder if teachers working together across subject fields could help minimize the time and resource problems we’ve been bringing up in class, or cause more difficulties?


  1. Caitlin, you brought up an excellent point regarding the connectivity between subjects. To answer your question, I believe that it would be very beneficial and save time when teachers communicate and work together. Furthermore, when working together, they can form a comprehensive yet cohesive and consistent lesson plan that shows this interdependence and connectivity between subject areas more clearly. While I have no specific way of implementing this in mind (but it would be interesting to see how they could do it), teachers could create lessons plans based on history. Thus, students could learn about an historical period of figure and the other disciplines could discus the importance of that time period for their subject and the concepts and ideas learned during that time. Thus students could see the historical influence that shaped the discoveries and concepts developed. Through this, students gain a greater picture of cause and effect, as Reiser puts it, and gain the skills to actually see these connections and draw upon greater overarching themes.

  2. While Lehrer, and both of this weeks’ articles discuss modeling, explanation and argumentation, which step is most important? Or would all three have equal value in regard to understanding and learning? What value would you place upon failure in experimentation; if a student’s volcano doesn’t erupt or plant doesn’t sprout could he or she be discouraged and unmotivated to learn why? Also, would teachers have to collaborate in order to bring other subject areas into their classrooms? For a large grade-level project, of course cooperation between teachers is necessary. However, is it irresponsible for teachers to only be well educated in their specific subject areas?

  3. In the Sampson article, I found their use of integration to be a little trite (do reading and writing really only belong to the humanities??), but I like that you've taken this concept to the next level in thinking about the potential for inter classroom projects. I'm interested to hear about the logistics of your zoo project, were all the teachers at the grade level involved? Did you have a final synthesized product at the end or one product for each class? Transferring this concept to the high school setting, what adaptations would you have to make to account for the diversity of class schedules different students may have? This could possibly look like a certain theme, like evolution (which could be biological, cultural, or personal), that the whole school would address. This is going to sound unintelligent, but do you ever have that feeling that when you're learning about something you start to see it everywhere? Im pretty sure its common psychologically and this system could take advantage of that learning function to help students draw comparisons between subjects (as well as to store a theory in multiple parts of their brain, making it more likely to cement in long term memory).


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