November 17, 2012
I’ll let a excerpt from Larry Cuban’s recent post speak for itself:
The repeated return of mistaken ideas captures well my experiences with technologies in schools and what I have researched over decades. The zombie idea that is rapidly being converted into policies that in the past have been “refuted with evidence but refuse to die” is: new technologies can cure K-12 and higher education problems of teaching and learning. The most recent incarnation of this revolving-door idea is widespread access to online instruction in K-12 education cyber-charter schools, blended schools where online instruction occurs for a few hours a day, and mandated courses that children and youth have to take.
October 20, 2012
The nature of science is often misrepresented as dull, straightforward, & overly empirical. Such a view misses important aspects of creativity & intuition in science. Below is an abstract to a recent paper where the author uses insights from Edgar Allen Poe to illuminate the creative side of science. Now the question is, “how do we illuminate these aspects of science for our students?”
Edgar Allan Poe’s standing as a literary figure, who drew on (and sometimes dabbled in) the scientific debates of his time, makes him an intriguing character for any exploration of the historical interrelationship between science, literature and philosophy. His sprawling ‘prose-poem’ Eureka (1848), in particular, has sometimes been scrutinized for anticipations of later scientific developments. By contrast, the present paper argues that it should be understood as a contribution to the raging debates about scientific methodology at the time. This methodological interest, which is echoed in Poe’s ‘tales of ratiocination’, gives rise to a proposed new mode of—broadly abductive—inference, which Poe attributes to the hybrid figure of the ‘poet-mathematician’. Without creative imagination and intuition, Science would necessarily remain incomplete, even by its own standards. This concern with imaginative (abductive) inference ties in nicely with his coherentism, which grants pride of place to the twin virtues of Simplicity and Consistency, which must constrain imagination lest it degenerate into mere fancy.
October 20, 2012
The following abstract came across my google reader today. What are the insights you’re seeing for learning/teaching in K-16 education?
A century of research on the development of walking has examined periodic gait over a straight, uniform path. The current study provides the first corpus of natural infant locomotion derived from spontaneous activity during free play. Locomotor experience was immense: Twelve- to 19-month-olds averaged 2,368 steps and 17 falls per hour. Novice walkers traveled farther faster than expert crawlers, but had comparable fall rates, which suggests that increased efficiency without increased cost motivates expert crawlers to transition to walking. After walking onset, natural locomotion improved dramatically: Infants took more steps, traveled farther distances, and fell less. Walking was distributed in short bouts with variable paths—frequently too short or irregular to qualify as periodic gait. Nonetheless, measures of periodic gait and of natural locomotion were correlated, which indicates that better walkers spontaneously walk more and fall less. Immense amounts of time-distributed, variable practice constitute the natural practice regimen for learning to walk.
October 18, 2012
Below are some thoughts from one of my former middle school students who is now in high school & in a flipped classroom. I’ll let her words speak for themselves, but think her words speak to the state of science education well beyond the flipped class model.
My opinion on the flipped classroom varies for certain situations. I enjoy the freedom the flipped classroom gives me and I’m able to easily keep up with our everyday schedule. But, for students that have trouble learning from just a couple videos don’t do as well. It seems like every other day the teacher is spending the class period catching up the students who fell behind. This method really only benefits that small percentage of students who are able to memorize the notes they take on the videos we’re given.
I really have not learned anything in Chemistry. I’ve been giving the periodic table to memorize and a test on it after. We are told where they are, but not what they do or why they are there. Our assignments are usually made up of videos of OTHER people on the internet talking about some topic. We then have to take several notes on the videos and then are given a quiz the next day. The whole process is completed. My class has had a few labs that I litterally can’t remember what it was about. All our teacher did was showed us how to do the lab and then we just grouped up and copied her. She expects us to learn something from the labs. But, I don’t know how to learn from something that we were never given the reason WHY we need to do it.
The problem is that the teacher doesn’t guide us to learn something. We’re just given information to memorize knowing that less than a week away the information will just be forgotten. Our teacher has not even told us one thing about chemistry that will actually help us learn. She completely relys on other people’s work to “teach” us. I would have to say I learn more against the flipped classroom than with it. The method does have small benefits, but the flipped classroom mostly hurts the learning enviroment for every student.
October 4, 2012
Today in my Ed Psych course I asked, “Why do we want students to participate in class?” The preservice teachers easily acknowledged that increased participation likely leads to increased mental engagement & having students hear ideas of other students has clear benefits concerning the language accessibility of the exchanges. I then asked, “What things can a teacher do to discourage/encourage participation?” While there are obvious answers, I think one of the more nuanced ideas related to valuing student ideas. When exploring this, we noted that teachers need to flexibly use student ideas, but doing so requires a very well developed pedagogical content knowledge. Leave a comment sharing how you encourage your students to participate in class discussion or other activities?
October 4, 2012
You must go check out Ira Socol’s most recent post in which he links the slow progression of medicinal practice to educational change. I found myself thinking about Thomas Kuhn’s “Structure of Scientific Revolutions” & paradigm shift. In science, a paradigm continues to reign as long as those locked into the paradigm persist or enough anomalies are collected to re-evaluate the paradigm despite the beliefs of those in power. I wonder when we will accept that too many anomalies already exist in education (i.e.: too many kids are not learning).
October 3, 2012
Last night I tried a new approach with one of my college classes. The course is about science education. We read an article that summarizes a high school science activity that addresses climate, heat capacity, investigation design, & the nature of science.
I first had students read the article to identify how the authors addressed the nature of science as well as missed opportunities. Then, they went back through the article to note places when the activity fit with learning theory. In a third reading, I asked the preservice teachers to identify teacher actions/behaviors that seemed important for the activity to work. Fourth, I had students investigate ways in which the authors addressed safety issues. In a final reading, we investigated how the article sought to teach the science content. That is, how the authors organize & scaffold content learning for students.
In between each reading, we discussed ideas & pros/cons of the activity in relation to the lens through which we had just viewed the article. I imagine most people would consider reading the same article 5 times would be redundant. I found the students’ ideas to grow in sophistication as we progressed & the different lenses provided new perspectives.
Each time we read the article, we embarked on a new inquiry into the nature of teaching. This kind of close reading is not often achieved & asking students to view the same reading through different lenses provided scaffolding for them to dig deeper into the piece. Imagine if we encouraged younger students to read so closely instead of quizzing them on mundane details*.
*when I wrote the phrase “mundane details” I immediately thought of Office Space. ;-)