Category Archives: 5.3 Formative and Summative Evaluation

Integrating Technology into the Teaching of Science

One of the best parts of being a Science teacher is that my students get to investigate the world on a regular basis.  So much of science is based on observing the world around you, asking questions about that world, investigating your questions and drawing conclusions from those investigations.  It is formal inquiry at it’s best.  For most students, however, there is a limit to what they can see.  Even now, in the 21st century, most of the world we experience is fairly limited in scope.  We know our houses and families, our schools and friends, but only rarely get to peek to the world beyond.

Assuming one has a curious and inquisitive mind, this is where technology can step in and pay huge dividends in the science classroom.  While I am a firm believer that the bulk of science that our students do should be hands-on work, there are many ways that technology adds to that experience.

Looking into Other Worlds

As stated, our view of the world is fairly limited.  Technology allows students to look into the heart of an atom or out into the unknown reaches of the galaxy through experiences like Absorb Learning’s atom tutorial or the Hubble Deep Field Academy.  The fact is that resources are being developed all the time that broaden students world and what becomes observable.  This broader view leads to more interest and investigation on the part of the students.

Learning from Others at Your Own Pace

Another wonderful aspect of technology integration is the fact that students learning is no longer limited to the teacher’s experiences.  Nowadays, students can learn from MIT professors or experts on subjects from around the world.  They need only reach out (with guidance) and follow their path at their pace.  Unlike any other time in history, students can truly follow their passions as far as they desire.

Using Inquiry to Learn

All science education should be inquiry based to some degree.  Technology integration supports such learning by allowing students to learn through experience as they tweak conditions in simulations, design and run experiments online or use tech-based data collecting in their own in-class experiments.   Technology supports a number of various ways for students to both gather information about their world and to visualize that information as they work to draw conclusions.

The fact is that the list goes on and on.  Students can utilize tutorials to gain better understandings of concepts, make connections and develop learning projects with partners around the world or simply track their own learning through the keeping of a blog.  Technology has always played an important role in the teaching and learning of science and that connection is growing deeper every day.

Resources

Haury, D. L. (1993). Teaching Science Through Inquiry. ERIC CSMEE Digest (March Ed 359 048).

Roblyer, M.D. & Doering, A.H. (2013). Integrating educational technology into teaching (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Reflection following the Project

The project comes to an end and the students have presented their work.  Ideally, this is a time when we can all step back and celebrate.  Then what?

Evaluation.  Once the project is done, it is time to review what took place during the project.  What were the aspects of the project that went well?  What needs to be tweaked? Things to look at include the driving questions themselves and the direction they took the class (this seems like a good one to do with the students), the timeline of the project and the different skills needed to make the project flow better and become more relevant.

Who will you involve in the process?

  • As I reflect on the project unit, it seems essential to have student input.  It is easy for a teacher to feel like the work they have put in front of the students is interesting and meaningful.  Students, one the other hand, may not feel that way.  Developing a system for open and honest feedback is critical to continued development of  that project unit.  It is also important to get feedback from all teachers involved and from any “experts” who got to review the final project.  Essentially, it seems like the more information coming in, the better the chances of making improvements.

What will your process look like?

The process of reflection will likely have many different looks.  Personal reflection in the form of my own learning log, interviews with students and teachers involved and online evaluations that allow for anonymity all seem like valid ways to  elicit information that can be used in project evaluation.  ironically, even the process of valuating will likely have to be evaluated and tweaked over time (which answers the last question- Is this a one-time assessment?)

Ed Tech 542 Learning Log Entry #2

Having settled on a school garden as a project, I am quite optimistic about where I can go with this idea.  In my vision for this project, students will start by seeing the issues that exist in our modern world of industrialized agriculture.  Utilizing a film such as Food, Inc. I hope to help them see there is a problem.  From there, they will learn alternatives through research and begin to design a small garden that will become part of the school.  School gardens are not new, but the development of a garden seems to allow for so many learning opportunities across the field of biology.  Students will learn about plant needs, photosynthesis, nutrient cycling, nutrition and more.

As far as tools go, it seems like a great opportunity for students to share what they learn with others.  Development of a school garden website that can be a future resource for other class and school and some sort of multimedia project (I can see a public service announcement made by students) seem like very good, authentic forms of assessment.  I am still struggling a bit on how to create an audience for the students.  Ideas like fellow teachers, and students (maybe an assembly) see ok, but it keeps the work of my students within the school community.  It would be nice to expand their audience beyond the school grounds.  Perhaps involving parents would be a nice addition.

Is it PBL without an audience?  I would have to say yes, as long as the students are motivated by the learning.  However, most students need added incentive.  This, in my mind, is where the audience comes in.  By expanding the audience to include people outside of the students world, the motivation to do well increases.  This comes not just as fear of looking foolish, though many students will see that, but as an opportunity to look great.  A chance to make a difference.  That is something that is different about today’s students- the work they do doesn’t just hang in hallways, it has the potential to impact society.  So, while the project can carry on without an audience, clearly, students benefit from having one.