Saturday, April 9, 2011

Science Content and the Curriculum: The Big Ideas and Your Scientific Self

The science curriculum at various schools around the U.S. can be both very different and alike. However, it is still of most importance to have students engaged in the concepts they are learning, and to be actively engaged at that. Therefore, cooperative learning groups serve as that purpose to both engage students in the learning process and truly connect to the content they are learning, and make connections between math, science and technology. STEM initiative involves integrating the disciplines of math, science, and technology in curriculum planning and stresses the integration of these enterprises by having students become active learners- brainstorming, designing, building, and solving problems. In addition to cooperative learning groups allowing students to be actively involved in the learning process, they are providing opportunities for students to collaborate and work together to reach the best solution to their design challenge. Not only do students need to just know information about a subject, they now need to apply that information in creative ways using process skills. Cooperative learning groups are helping students understand and truly learn these "big ideas" in science. Inquiry is key!

Even though you may sometimes, as a teacher, need t modify or let go of your planning you have for a particular lesson, it is still crucial to plan. You cannot plan for things such as accidents, mood changes, difficulties in understanding a concept, students not cooperating, or students going further with your ideas than you imagined. But, you need to plan and have structure in your classroom to promote learning in the first place. As a teacher, you are setting up the situation and problems for students to investigate, and you can guide them through the process of learning. Therefore, in order to correctly scaffold your students and challenge their thinking and abilities, you need to have planned for the lesson and created scenarios and questions for hem to investigate and consider. Teachers can try to address and plan for all possible issues or situations that may arise during a lesson in order to feel more confident and prepared for when they do arise. 

In addition, cooperative learning groups should include all groups, nationalities, abilities, and various types of students in them. This is important to the dynamic and benefits of the group. Doing so, students who are struggling can  be helped by those who are high achievers, and those who simply need some assistance can receive it, students can learn about different cultures, and those who do not speak English well can be aided with the support of team work in a cooperative learning group. Therefore, no one truly falls behind and all will cooperate to achieve and attain a common goal. With each member having a role or some sort of responsibility, this ensures that all members will be participating and actively learning. Students are helping scaffold one another and are providing that extra support. Together, they can collectively answers questions they may have that they could not answer on their own. Teachers are posing more challenging problems and situations for students to investigate in these cooperative learning groups in order for students to have a need to interact and create a plan and find a solution together. 

Teachers should look for science activities that encourage individual explorations of phenomena. Students should ask their own questions and seek their own answers. Students need to be encouraged to question the phenomena under study and invent their theories for why something works. 

This video is great! It allows students to collaborate and inquiry with other students from around the world in hands-on/minds-on activities! Students are now excited about learning, comparing data with students from around the world and use high-order thinking when comparing data with students from other areas. They have a real motivation to learn and be involved in the process. They can also investigate areas and science concepts otherwise impossible through technology by "ripping across" boundaries. Areas that would not normally be accessible or available are now so. 

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