My lesson is focused on the 3 states of matter, and more specifically the fact that matter expands when heated because the particles move more quickly and have to spread to accommodate the increase in motion and that matter contracts when cooled because the particles move more slowly and realign to fit more compactly. Students will learn about how matter is measured, how temperature affects matter, and the differences between the different states. Students should already have a basic understanding of the three states of matter and how matter can change from one form to another prior to beginning this lesson. Originally, I intended to use a rubric as the sole means of evaluation, but after further thought, I decided to add a student self-assessment to increase and gauge student metacognition.
Since I am currently off for summer vacation, I was not able to do a test run with my own students. Instead, I implemented this lesson with my husband, Don. As a fellow teacher, he was able to provide valuable feedback and insight into what works and doesn’t work, both from the viewpoint of a student as well as a teacher. Overall, I was pleased with the flow and pace of the lesson; Don was able to complete the assignments more quickly than I would anticipate from a 4th grade student, which was not surprising and is not something I would be concerned with. He was able to find information within the provided resources to adequately answer the essential questions, a vital element in making this lesson successful. Like my students, Don is familiar with Discovery Education’s Science Techbook, so his ease would hopefully be similar to what the students would experience. His attempt at Board Builder, however, was a bit different. Since this is a new tool, released literally only a few weeks ago, this was his first time using it, just as it would be for my actual students. The Board Builder is fairly user-friendly, but it does take some getting used to. Don was able to quickly figure out how to add video, text, backgrounds, and more with very little guidance from me. All in all, the lesson went well and would be successful in my class with only very minor tweaking.
In this lesson, my “student” learned about the three states of matter, how they are measured, and how temperature affects each state. The goal was the create a deeper understanding of this topic, as well as clarifying that matter expands when heated because the particles move more quickly and have to spread to accommodate the increase in motion. In order to teach this, the student needed to have access to a computer.
In order for students to be successful, the students need to know how to login to the Discovery Education website and how to locate assignments in the "Student Center". The teacher must know how to create assignments and change the sharing settings on the Board Builder if they wish to have the students share their work. The teacher must also be familiar with using Board Builder in order to help guide students through the process of creating their own board. My student was assessed using a rubric, as well as a self-assessment. He was assessed on his ability to answer the three essential questions, as well as the quality of his final project. Don were held accountable by presenting his project to the "class". I expected for Don to get through the lesson quite easily in terms of finding information to answer the questions, which he did well. I also expected that he would need more time and guidance with the Board Builder, since this was his first time using it. After some trial and error, and a few questions about certain functions, he was able to complete the project easily.
The Discovery Science Techbook is meant to be the primary science curriculum in our school, so this lesson is meant to be a part of the normal curriculum. If follows the MI GLCEs and provides everything a teacher would need in order to be successful in teaching science. It is an improvement over our previous curriculum in that the Techbook stresses deeper understanding and critical thinking, both vital to true learning. It also serves to support a variety of learners. While unnecessary for my trial run, the students can change the language, have the text read aloud, watch videos or use the interactive glossary if they need extra support, and can highlight and take notes right in the techbook, something we would never let our students do in a traditional textbook. The Board Builder is unique because it provides a new and interesting way for students to showcase their learning. This is a fun, interesting tool that will motivate students to do their best thinking.
Primarily, learning took place using the cognitive constructivist theory of learning. The student explored several resources independently, building upon prior knowledge in order to construct his understanding of the concept. Social constructivism would also be factored into this as well when implemented in class because of the group lab and collaboration. There are a few elements of behaviorism in that there is a minimum level of fixed knowledge the learner must understand as well as a good deal of repetition throughout the activities, labs, and readings.
Technology was vital to this unit. The student completed labs, readings, and videos using the computer and also completed a final project using the Discovery Board Builder. The advantage to implementing this much technology is that the student was able to access all the materials at home without needing a textbook. The technology was also helpful from a planning standpoint because it limited the amount of copies I needed to make. The only disadvantage is that our school sometimes exceeds our bandwidth, causing brief outages. All of the Discovery materials can be downloaded ahead of time, so I normally have them saved on my computer as a backup.
A thoughtful, through reflection on a well-designed lesson! Great work, Edie, as always.
Action research is immensely beneficial in the classroom, and I would venture to guess that most effective teachers take part in action research whether they are aware of it or not. Ever since I started my first day of student teaching, I have worked to improve upon my teaching methods. I typically start with a problem (or question), then try different strategies until I am satisfied with the outcome. One example of this deals with the spelling system I used as the basis for my digital story project. From day one, I did not enjoy teaching spelling, nor did I see the value in spending an inordinate amount of time using rote memorization to learn words. I was left with the question of how to teach spelling more effectively while spending less time focusing on it. I researched methods online, through blogs, educational websites, and journals and after much trial and error, I was able to find a system I was happy with (although I am always altering and making changes as I go). Part of the Painter article stresses the importance of sharing research with others in the profession, which I have done by sharing with teachers in my school, making my spelling system available on my website, and most recently, creating a digital story to share with my CEP classmates! Did I realize that I was conducting action research? Absolutely not! But was I? I sure was!
Aside from my own experience with action research, I also see the potential for growth within my school community and the online education community as a whole. When teachers are sharing their questions, trials, and conclusions, it provides the chance to take teaching and learning to another level. As teachers, we are advocating that our students learn from and build off of one another, so why are we not doing the same? It is easy to get trapped inside your own classroom once your door closes, but by opening the door and sharing we are not only improving our teaching skills and the quality of education that we are providing for the students in our class, but we are also helping to shape and influence the instruction and education of teachers and students in our schools locally and globally.
Metacognition Discussion Board Questions
Memory, attention, development, and metacognition are all important factors to consider when planning for instruction. In terms of memory, my lesson uses the strategies of organization and elaboration. The students will need to organize their thoughts and elaborate on the topic in order to create a useful Board. Attention is controlled throughout this lesson by the use of essential questions, focused information gathering, and clear expectations for the finished project. Developmentally, the students in my target group, incoming 4th graders, are on the cusp of "effective use"; they typically choose the right strategies to problem solve, but still require guidance from time to time. The lesson is formatted in a way that I can assist those who need help without holding back the students who are capable of effectively using strategies to be successful. Finally, the students will use their metacognition to plan a presentation that will explain a concept. In doing this, they need to be able to think about whether or not their presentation will make sense to their audience.
When reviewing the four issues presented, I was pretty happy to see that I was able to meet each section without needing to "stretch" to make it fit! While the metacognition strategy that I listed is perfectly valid, it did make me think about whether it would be possible to add more opportunities for metacognition in the lesson. One way I came up with was the use of a student self-assessment. I will be adding this to end of my lesson so students will have a formal reflection upon their work.
Excellent posts! Outstanding reflection on action research. You did a great job using your own experience to illustrate - and motivate! - and citing specifics from the readings. Great thoughts on Metacognition as well, with very nice attention to detail!
Using Board Builder
To get more familiar with Board Builder, I created a board to showcase my lesson plan. Below are a few screenshots of the finished board, along with the included multimedia elements. If you have a Discovery Education login (you don't need to be subscribed to any services), you can view my board here.
Very nice job on the lesson plan, Edie – it is nicely structured and comprehensively answers the questions based on the TPACK model’s components and interactions.
Misconception: Matter expands when it gets warmer because the particles get bigger.
(1) Select your technology.
I will be evaluating Discovery Board Builder, a new tool in their suite of online software. Our school has purchased the Discovery Science Techbook, so I am interested to see how well they will work together in one of my science lessons. I am the Techbook administrator at my school, so I am always trying to find ways for teachers to use the Techbook and the Discovery tools more.
(2) Evaluate your technology.
Nice job on this technology evaluation, Edie! All questions are answered convincingly for a thorough and complete analysis of how Techbook intersects with your teaching situation, compellingly backed by theory and practical details of the technology at hand. Should make for an engaging lesson! I’m so pleased that this assignment is something that seemed highly relevant to your current work as Techbook administrator, and am interested to see how it turns out.
As a fully-online graduate student, the effects of learning with technology are easily noticeable. In the article, the authors mention that the effects of learning with technology come from interacting and forming an "intellectual partnership". I have become a "partner" with technology in order to grow and learn throughout my online learning career. I interact with tutorials, computer programs, videos, and other online tools.
The authors also discussed that the partnership with technology should stand to divide the labor. I'm a firm believer in worker smarter, not harder, and technology is a great tool for that!. Instead of taking time to go to the library, I can search MSU's online databases. Rather than ordering a textbook, I can purchase and download it instantly to my tablet. Instead of checking words in the dictionary, I can use spell check. It almost seems odd to think that there was a time when the best tool we had was the dictionary!
I'm a "young" teacher, so technology has always been a part of my education, so I sometimes forget how much of an impact it has on my life. In the article, the authors stress that the idea that the effects of technology are those that have an effect on the user even when they are not using the technology (spell check doesn't make me a better speller unless I am using it at that tim. One example of this that comes to mind is the cell phone. My first cell phone was a Samsung flip phone. It was very basic, so I was able to figure it out quite easily. After a while, I was able to use essentially every feature it offered. I eventually upgraded to a slightly nicer phone. There were a lot of "skills" that I learned on my first phone that I was able to apply to the new phone. With each upgrade, I was able to use knowledge gained from my previous phones to gain familiarity and fluency with my new phone.
People are scared of change, and the idea of online learning is a BIG change for many! People worry that online learning doesn't make us smarter. Doubters are left with a lot of questions. What about learning to write cursive? What about dictionary skills? What about using an encyclopedia? I think as educators, we should be conscious of these questions, but also keep the big idea in mind as well, which is preparing students to be successful in the world as they grow into adults. The truth is that there are many skills that we were taught in school that will soon be obsolete. I am not advocating that we do away with all of the basics, but what I am saying is that perhaps instead of spending so much time on outdated skills, we spend more time engaged in deeper lessons to grow true understanding.
Overall, I think online learning is a great tool, as long as the learner is motivated. In my experience, the quality of online learning has more to do with the student than the teacher; as a student, you get what you give! I have always been successful in online and traditional classes because I am highly motivated - I want to learn the content, I want to be a better teacher, I don't want to waste my money and time, etc... If a student doesn't have some sort of motivating factor, it is very easy to glide through and miss out on important learning. With the proper implementation and motivation, I think that online learning is great option for most students.
As an elementary teacher, I'm not sure where I stand on online learning for younger students, though. There is a social aspect of a brick and mortar school that I feel is immensely important, especially in the increasingly connected/disconnected world. (By that I mean we are more connected than ever, with cell phones and Facebook, but are becoming more and more disconnected in terms of talking with people and enjoying the company of another person.) Schools offer children the chance to form friendships and learn social norms through daily interaction, something that would be difficult to replicate online. I do think that some aspects of online learning should be started in younger classes, such as the idea of flipped learning. In my opinion, that stands as a good introduction to online learning and prepares students for totally online classes later in their educational careers.
excellent posts - your illustrations of the two types of effects and thoughts on online learning/change are well thought out and insightful.
Great project idea - the twist you have identified is a great way to explore the diverse way in which learning can take place. Nice connection of the material on the Wong article to your own design experience paying attention to the details in your project to elevate the quality of the finished product.
My Digital Story
One idea from Wong's article that resonated with me was the idea of interest. I had never really put any thought into the actual idea of interest. Of course I have considered student interests when planning lessons, experiments, projects, and activities, just as any "good" teacher does, but the actual idea of where interest comes from was never a thought. In the article, Wong states that, "Another domain located, in part, in the realm beyond rationality and control is the study of learners’ interest." How true that statement is! While I may be able to guess what may interest a few of my students, the truth is that each child's individual interests are irrational and uncontrollable. So why are we trying to control something that can't be controlled and rationalize something irrational? Rather than focusing on what may or may not interest the students, perhaps we should shift focus to what is interesting to the person teaching the information. When I am interested, excited, and energetic about a topic, I teach better and find that my students are more interested as well. We need to model an interest and excitement for learning if we wish to have students that view learning as a valuable experience.
Subconsciously, affect and aesthetic were of extreme importance to me throughout both projects. During these projects, I've been very conscious of what the end product would look and/or sound like. I wanted them to be pleasing to the eye and ear, if for no other reason than my own approval. The Norman quote used in the explanation of affect and cognition, "The surprise is that we now have evidence that pleasing things work better, are easier to learn, and produce a more harmonious result," seemed especially appropriate for my feelings towards the project, and my viewpoint on my work in all aspects of my life. I was careful to speak slowly and carefully in both projects, which is quite a feat for me as I tend to speak very quickly when nervous! I also tried to include interesting visual and audio elements in the projects. Background music and audio transitions in my audio project, as well as transitions, moving graphics, and introduction and closing music in my digital story, added to the emotion and visual/auditory appeal of each project.
Dupont. (Designer). (2011). HD Back to School Wallpaper 2 [Web Photo]. Retrieved from http://www.dvd-ppt-slideshow.com/blog/hd-back-to-school-wallpapers-and-back-to-school-backgrounds-free-download/
Erickson, E. (Photographer) (2009-2013). Classroom photos[Print]. Available from http://stfran3.com
Royalty Free Music. (Producer) (n.d.). Variety hour[Web]. Retrieved from http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=song&ex=2
"Excellent project! I really liked the use of the text over the images to better provide context of the imagery with your voice over. You also do a great job of leading up to the “twist” of the project and how it was received. The content includes a clear statement of purpose or theme and is creative, compelling and clearly produced. A rich variety of supporting information in the story contributes to understanding the twist for student understanding and/or teaching strategies. The story includes motivating ideas that provide the audience with a sense of the main idea. Events and messages are presented in a logical order. The project is edited with only high quality audio and visual images remaining. Audio and/or visual narration moves smoothly from section to section and transitions are used to create a smooth flow from one section to the next. Digital effects are kept in balance and does not overpower the story's content. The visual imagery is clear and effectively assists in communicating the twist for the story. All video clips fit the storyline. Clips are just long enough to make each point clear. The flow captures audience attention. Finally, the quality of your voice over is excellent."
Part 1: Important Lesson
Part 2: Observing Student Learning
"Great posts, you have written a very thorough post covering the Learning About Learning post. Your breakdown of the types of learning outcomes is well stated. The addition of your own personal learning experiences helps to further support your ideas on the subject. You also do a nice job analyzing the Gee piece on learning through video games."
What did you learn about understanding student understanding?
Great posts, Edie! Glad to hear that you made it through that rough week and that more peaceful times are near. Your take on classroom applications of Norman's arguments is compelling, as is the Weebly illustration. I also liked your emphasis on "small changes" in M2.3, keeping existing constraints in mind to make adjustments realistic.
I'm Edie - wife, mom, teacher, instructional designer, home renovator,
and lover of nature, travel, technology, and vintage campers!