Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Week 11 Readings

Both of these articles argue that it is important for teachers to take learning out of the formal/traditional “sit still and listen while I vomit information at you” approach and spend more time in informal settings, whether that be through field trips, extended/open-ended projects, or classroom discourse.
Braund & Reiss argue for teachers to take science learning from being something done exclusively in the classroom and laboratory sessions and into the students’ real worlds through field trips to museums, zoos, botanical gardens, etc., extended practical work out of the classroom, and access to “big” science.  They argue that this approach helps students learn by increasing their motivation, showing them that science is more than what they see presented in the classroom and making it relevant to them.
  • Their main caveat is that students must come to the experience prepared to learn – what they call the education and entertainment motivations.  Here, I think, is the role for the teacher.  We ought to ensure that students see the field trip or practical work as an opportunity to learn, structuring it into the learning sequence rather than tacking it on at the end.  An example of this from my undergraduate career is in my evolution class, as part of our studies into how changes in genes or gene expression during development can drastically change the final form of the organism, we were asked to go to the local natural history museum (free admission for UF students) and pick 2 organisms said to be closely related evolutionarily that look very different and hypothesize how and why they may have diverged.
  • My main question about the field trips especially, but also to an extent the extended projects, is what about the schools that don't have the resources to afford it?  
Quinn and Bell’s work was very similar to the NGSS rationale we looked at last week.  They also spend a good deal of time contrasting formal to informal learning and posit that it is desirable for students to learn in both formal and informal settings, especially because over the course of their lives, they will spend most of their time in informal settings.  Being able to pull lessons from these settings and critically asses them will be a very important skill in life. 


  1. I hadn't really thought about the practical obstacles that might come between a classroom and a museum. However, I think there are always ways to get students out of the classroom. For example, in my high school bio class, we took little "field trips" out to the little garden thing next door to observe the ecosytems in real life. I know of another teacher who left a dead pig in the parking lot (in a cage type thing to protect from raccoons) and used that model to study decomposition for a forensics class. Hygiene hazards notwithstanding, I think a creative teacher will find ways to give students high quality experiences outside the classroom.

  2. I think you hit the nail on the head. Students can use their prior knowledge learned in the classroom.Then ,as the concepts are furthur exponded upon during theese field trips then they will be able to develope a more hollisctic knowledge of the topic. This is a better way to meet the NGSS standars and to develop a better student . One that gives the theory legs and practical application feet.

  3. I also thought about the practicality of field trips as I was reading this week. In my experience in public schooling, the standard was to go on a field trip 1-3 times a year, as the budget allowed I suppose. As teachers, I think that we will have to prioritize which real-life models we most want our students to be able to experience, and show them videos of the rest. Either that or hopefully get grants to take our students to all of the places we want them to go!