Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Faith Week 10

Children know a lot more than they are given credit for. The authors of the Framework for K-12 Science Education agree with me. In the two chapters we focused on, they defended the path they took to come up with their framework. They focused on core ideas, rather than several random details, to emphasize in teaching so as to promote expert, rather than novice thinking (which would be in random, isolated facts). They present topics in ways that are age appropriate, scaffolding information and activities as students get older. The framework cuts across multiple disciplines to not only save time but to make the learning process more authentic to what happens in the scientific community today. Moreover, children are encouraged to follow their interests and engage in their learning in a very real way. One of the most important factors they emphasize is the presence of engineering in the standards and the emphasis on models and real world science.

Preparing students for life and helping them enjoy interacting with the natural world, rather than memorizing vocabulary for a test, will prepare students for a life in a scientific world and will help them to appreciate the world around them. I think that the Framework writers understand this and do a good job expounding upon that philosophy. I especially wanted to congratulate them on realizing how vital engineering is to the science classroom, because in life we are encountered with questions that we need to learn how to solve, and engineering is a hands-on way to learn to do that.

Memo Week 10

In my mind, this week's reading summed up everything we've done thus far. I made connections between the content of different weeks, but this week really seemed to tie everything together and explain why we've been talking about the things we've been talking about. "A Framework for K-12 Science Education" outlined problems with the previous curriculum and why different aspects of the new curriculum were proposed.

One of the ideas that stood out to me was about the need to ground science education in the experiences of students. This is something that has been a recurring theme this semester, and when I evaluate my experiences and the experiences my sisters had in science it seems to make sense. I was fortunate enough to have teachers who consistently (from 1st grade all through college) made science applicable to my daily life. In 7th grade, we spent a unit on primates, and Mrs. Thome took us on a field trip to one of the nature reserves to do "field work" and observe the long-tailed macaques that lived there. Macaques were a fairly common occurrence in my life, often walking down our street to rummage through the garbage or traumatize our dog. Our "field work" grounded the content and the scientific practice in my daily experience. Neither of my sisters had teachers that made a concerted effort to relate content back to the experiences of students, and as a result, both of my sisters think science is a lot of vocabulary and facts to memorize.

Cultivating a sense of wonder in our students, in my opinion, encourages them to ask questions and seek answers in an effort to explain the world around them. As these skills are nurtured, they pour over to other aspects of life (why only wonder about the natural world and not literature or history or math?) and engage students in school in ways they may not have been engaged before. I see science as a powerful tool that can be used to draw students in to school.

Ray's Week 10 Nugget of Info

In one of my previous blogs I discussed this question a little bit: how much credence should we give our intuition? Is there something intrinsically simple or ‘true’ about that which we can intuitively deduce? Just like the framework of a building needs foundation, the framework for science education needs some kind of base and the student brings a very important base to the equation. Intuition is one component. The innate drive to investigate is another. The experiences and observations that they make in the life leading up to education is a very important one as well. And what I love so much about this thorough framework is that the ‘firm foundations’ set provide the proper tone, persay, for the manifestation of the rest of the framework. Utilizing what is already present is what makes the framework and framework in the first place.

            My experience in engineering here at Vanderbilt has taught me the indespensible importance of clearly defining the initial problem and allowing all the information to explain the best possible solution for itself right from the beginning. A proper definiton and framing of the problem can make all of the difference as you take the next steps. I admire the planning stages of the Science classroom practices in Box 3-1. Letting the ‘foundational’ aspects of the framework guide the introductory stages of a concept provides a much more dynamic bridge than just presenting static information in (maybe) a more traditional sense. I can really see how a lot of the valuable concepts we have covered in SciLit to this point in the semester are synthesized in this article/book. Seeing the argumentative steps later in the framwork as well puts me at rest a little bit since I injected so much discussion and argumentation into my design project, as it stands. J

Week 10 memos

        I want to personally congratulate the  National Academy of Sciences they really get it. For to long students have been bombarded with scientific curiculmn that is a "mile wide and an inch deep". Due to this we all can recount a time when we  felt that we would A. never learn all this material and B. none of this stuff correlates. Yet they have correctly decided to first develop standards that reduce amount of information learned and to show how these ideas correlate. The push to develop common core standards.

        I definitely agree with the push for more applications of  engineering, and physics and technology in schools at an early age. The United states has been lapped in the harder sciences and I approve of a stand that brings the hunger and fire back to American Ingenuity at such a young age. Students who can gain a foot hold in these love for sciences can also transfer over to an understanding of  mathematics, music and programming. These are the fields of the future. If we can motivate and cultivate this love for knowledge and learning to the next generation America will be well on its way to changing the perception of a the stem programs not only to our own students but to the world as well.

      Im quite curious to see how this trajectory will transfer over to the workforce in the next 10-15 years . This is enough time for the  students who just entered the K-12 school setting  as this push began to matriculate and fully participate in this program.

10/27/15 Week 10 Readings

It was good to see the reasoning behind the standards that we’ll be teaching to.  A few disjointed thoughts about the reading:
  • About this quote: “But given the cornucopia of information available today virtually at a touch – people live, after all, in an information age—an important role of science education is not to teach “all the facts” but rather to prepare students with sufficient core knowledge so that they can later acquire additional information on their own.”
    • I really like this.  I don’t see the point in memorizing, for example, the periodic table when I can just look up the element I need on the table.  However, if I didn’t know how to read the periodic table I’d be lost.  We need to teach our students how to look up information and critically assess its accuracy and reliability
    • I liked that there is an emphasis on depth rather than breadth in the NGSS.  I have found in my own studies that the better I know a particular topic, the easier it is to learn new information, even if that new information is not in the same domain. 
  •  I also liked that there is a progression in ideas from broad to narrow application in practices common to all sciences to cross-cutting concepts that link between two or more domains to domain-specific core concepts.
  • It was also good to see that all the work we’ve been doing so far regarding modeling, developing representations, and argumentation is focused on in the NGSS.  I'm looking forward to seeing if and how my mentor teacher(s) put this into practice during my student teaching.

Week 10: the framework of my dreams

WEEK 10: Framework for K-12 Science Education

I really appreciated this week’s reading assignment. It expressed the issues with current curriculum and how science education needs to evolve. What really spoke to me was this quote, “The overarching goal of our framework for K-12 science education is to ensure that by the end of 12th grade, all students have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science; possess sufficient knowledge of science and engineering to engage in public discussions on related issues; are careful consumers of scientific and technological information related to their everyday lives; are able to continue to learn about science outside school; and have the skills to enter careers of their choice, including (but not limited to) careers in science, engineering, and technology.” To me this is exactly what needs to be done to improve the classroom experience and really get students were they should be when exiting high school. A lot of the issues I have with the current curriculum stem from how students leave high school but don’t know anything about how to translate what they have learned to the every day. So many adults are completely clueless about how to interpret what they learn from the internet or even the news. By teaching these kids in this way we are helping generate competent learners that will hopefully turn into functionally skeptical adults. Nowadays kids and even adults don’t question what they read or hear. They don’t question the source or really even think about the likelihood that what they are hearing isn’t true. There is so much pseudoscience out there. I am afraid if we don’t teach these kids to question, we will be creating a generation of na├»ve, uneducated adults that one day will be controlling the country. With all of the misinformation about global warming, vaccinations, dieting, carcinogens, and hundreds of other issues, students (and some adults) need some common sense. The faster we can get these teaching principles into the classroom the better, in my opinion.        

This Framework Works!

I've always struggled with the debate of breadth over depth (or vice versa). On the one hand, a lot of novice level chemistry can be pretty dry. For example, learning stoichiometry and acid-base equilibrium aren't exactly interesting, but both are more or less essential to gaining a deep understanding of science. Perhaps there is some way of making those topics interesting, which is where our reading comes in. The authors of A Framework for Scientific Education emphasize the role contextualization plays in student learning. By making a topic relevant and applicable to a student is key in piquing interest. For example, talking about how stoichiometry is used to maximize efficiency in space shuttles or how our blood is really a complex buffer solution could help make strides in making topics relevant for students. I think one possible pitfall lies in overcomplicating certain topics by exposing students to concepts that might be interesting but still beyond the skill level of the students. Here, discretion is probably key as far as constructing assessments and presentation of the material.

I also liked utilizing students' innate sense of curiosity, or "sense of wonder". Honestly, watching videos of different really cool chemical reactions is what got me interested in chemistry to begin with. Like we've talked about in class, framing science as a subject to be explored rather than a subject to be learned is huge. I can hardly imagine anyone who can watch potassium explode in water  or see a rocket blast into space and not be at least a little bit interested in the chemistry behind it.

Week 10

I liked this week’s reading. It was very thorough in detailing the steps necessary to create scientists out of students essentially. I liked how the authors stated that science is a process of practices and discovery, instead of a collection of random facts to regurgitate on a test. However, to appreciate that, the curriculum needs to be continuous from K-12, where students can build upon a foundation and refine their knowledge and ways of thinking. There needs to be content organized around core ideas, similar to how experts think in terms of extension around core principles, rather than memorizing disconnected superficial facts like novices do. I think this is a great way to educate students not only on science, but also on just to develop the necessary analytical skills to excel in life. I also liked how the authors introduced the concept of engineering design process into the classroom, where students can apply their knowledge and practices to more immediately applicable problems. At one point the authors talked about the “sense of wonder,” which is something I think would be instrumental in keeping students interested in science. They need to be amazed by some aspects of science and come up with questions and theories, so they would have a sense of ownership into what they learn and I think that would provide a positive cycle for learning. Overall I think the reading is very illuminating in laying down the progression and the broad steps we need to take to unify science learning into something that’s continuous and deep. However, it seems to be a tall order as organizing science education from the K-12 level would undoubtedly run into political and logistical issues. In addition, the authors didn’t mention testing requirements, which are mandated by the government and seem to focus more on breadth over depth. There are a lot of questions that need to be sorted out in order for next generation science standards to proceed effectively.

Week 10 Readings

The reading this week was extremely insightful in terms of giving a more pratical way of giving scientific instruction in the classroom. I have to admit that I'm extremely grateful to see a plan that actually emcompasses many different topics in a cohesive manner and an orderly fashion. As a student, I never experienced a curriculum that not only build off each other, but was extremely cohesive.  Also, the curriculum that I was taught from never involved a practical component that gave room for investigation or inquiry. As a past tutor, my students chief complaint would be that they did not understand the purpose of the information. They would bombard me with so many questions about how and why, and I would often spend most of the time answering those questions as well as giving instruction. This reading finally gave me the answer that j needed in terms of finding a solution of making sure the student is asking all the questions that he or she wants to ask as well making sure the instruction is giving in a logical and orderly fashion.

 I was really impressed with the concept map presented on page 41 entitled "The Three Spheres of Inquiry for Scientists and Engineers". It is a great way to approach science teaching in a new and innovative way. I personally would approach it from a conceptually project viewpoint, with both room for instruction and inquiry. I'm curious to see how everyone else's approach would be. 

Week 10 Memo

The authors detailed a framework that improve K-12 science education. Motivation for this new framework included many adults lacking strong bases in science. A new framework is needed that causes people to be fascinated with science while also imparting knowledge that builds upon itself over years of study. Some of the central tenants of this framework are scientific and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas in physical sciences, life sciences, earth and space sciences, and engineering, technology, and scientific applications.

I found the incorporation of crosscutting concepts very interesting. For example, the intricate relationship between structure and function of macromolecules in biology is also present in chemistry for simpler molecules. As a teacher, I can connect ideas across disciplines and units to help students see the big picture concepts that are sometimes more important and interesting than the little details.

With respect to the core ideas, there was a focus, again, on the broad importance of these ideas across multiple disciplines. However, the authors also focused on relating information to students' interests and life experiences, which I intend to do as a teacher to motivate uninterested students. Allowing these ideas to be teachable over multiple levels also helps answer the question "when will I need to know this?" by focusing on using past knowledge in new contexts that are, hopefully, more interesting to students due to increased difficulty.

The overall focus of depth over breadth in the new framework strikes me as an excellent move. Of course, breadth and depth would be ideal with unlimited time to teach, but simply glossing over concepts does not "stick" in students' minds. Rather, deep, rich understanding is what will connect with students and linger in their long-term memory.

Some of the guiding assumptions of the framework are that children are born investigators, a focus on core ideas and practices is key since it promotes depth over breadth, that understanding develops over time, both knowledge and practice are necessary, and connections to students' lives is key as is promoting equity.
I connected with the focus on practice as well. Students are often taught that there is simply one scientific method or one correct way to do things, but teaching multiple practices, as I intend to do, can help show students the multitude of ways of achieving excellent responses.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Week 10 Memo

A Framework for K-12 Science Education

                  The authors discuss the current failing system of science education and outline a plan to remedy the lack of interest and preparedness that the majority of American students display with regards to STEM disciplines. This general framework is based on prior science education research, and is intended to inform states, schools, and administrators on how to implement more effective teaching and learning strategies.
                  The reading states that all children have an innate curiosity, and teachers should capitalize on this sense of wonder in order to pique student interest in the sciences. By framing the K-12 teaching of science around a small number of core ideas, students will be able to integrate main concepts and delve more deeply into these themes as they progress throughout their education.  Furthermore, teachers should work to make science feel relevant to their students’ lives by relating academic concepts to observable real world phenomena. The authors also discuss the need for students to learn not just scientific content, but also the ability to participate in practices that relate the students’ formal education to the realities of the professional scientific community.

  • ·             Interdisciplinary applications of science: The curriculum that the authors propose focuses on the interplay between science, engineering, and technology and how the cross-disciplinary nature of these fields allows for new discovery.
  • ·            Knowledge and practice: By engaging K-12 students in inquiry-based learning, experimentation, and modeling, the authors suggest that students will become more invested in the exploratory nature of science.
  • ·             Argumentation, critique, and analysis: These techniques help students understand the role that constant evaluation plays in the field of science, and the authors posit that these methods will encourage critical thought regarding scientific theories, models, and experimental designs.

I enjoy the framework’s overall attitude towards K-12 science education. Too often, students perceive success in the sciences as rote memorization of facts, which, while sometimes crucial, does not promote the innovative and dynamic nature of scientific discovery. Nonetheless, I wonder what the balance between knowledge and practice looks like in a secondary classroom. In my undergraduate science experience, I found that I was able to think critically and construct individual knowledge with respect to scientific concepts; however, this more expert-level thinking came only after certain information had been adequately memorized. Is there a way to promote a more simultaneous activation of knowledge and practice?