And So It Goes (again)…

Summer B is near the end and once again I have the time (sort of) and the space to reflect on my coursework. Summer A’s reflection post was about literacy in the scientific classroom, and for EDU 486, it is about technology’s role, which works out because I am writing this on a blog.

One thing worth noting as I think about my learning trajectory was that we re-read some of the articles from 487. In particular the Chinn and Malhotra (2001) article was interesting to re-read because I caught some new things I missed the first time around. In both courses, I quoted from them, “simple inquiry task may not only fail to help students… they may also foster a nonscientific epistemology in which scientific reason is viewed as simple… (Chinn and Malhotra, 2001).” In light of camp this quote took on a whole new meaning. After seeing the campers present their studies, I saw scholars become experts in five days due to the fact that they were allowed to engage in real science where everything from the question to what variable to study to who they were going to present their findings were all their own choices. As one of the campers interview by the press said, “the science we do at school isn’t as helpful.” The science is as helpful because we do not give students the choice to explore what they find relevant. Sure we did not cover every aspect of bacteria, ecosystems, and waterways but in five days the campers learned lab skills, science thinking skills, and useful vocabulary all generated from what the students wanted to learn. While they may not know what the word “coliform” exactly means a few years from now, they are more likely to remember the work they did with the identity of scientist and how that can make them informed members of the community.

To see where my learning trajectory goes from here I will take one step back to Summer A. In Summer A I learned what authentic scientific inquiry was and what it looked like. In Summer B I learned what doing authentic inquiry was like with students, but in an informal setting. I feel the next step is when STARS rolls around, it will be how to do authentic inquiry in a classroom setting. In addition, we have a bit less support to lean on and much more accountability on our part.

Slowly moving down that line

Slowly moving down that line

Having said that, I think I am prepared to take that step. I’ve thought about authentic scientific inquiry, I’ve taught with that mindset, so I’m ready for the challenge of STARS. Full geekdom, here I come!

As far as the technology aspect goes, I feel most comfortable presenting it in a fashion that we have been using for a long time: pluses and arrows. (C’mon, we all saw that coming…)

My big plus from this semester is my understanding in technology’s role in the classroom. Technology “should be a introduced as a means, not an end” (Flick and Bell, 2000). It also “…can be employed to do in new ways the same kinds of things we’ve previously known” (Lankshear and Knobel, 2006). At one point in time, the whiteboard and marker were new technologies, and they were employed as a means to teach in brand new ways. This mindset is a huge advantage when thinking about integrating technology into learning. It is a tool, just like paper and pencil, that enhances student learning and understanding. This is a huge cognitive step because one day, I will be the old teacher and technology will have advanced in ways I cannot even fathom. When that moment comes, I have to take a step back and remember what I am writing right now. Technology is a tool, and I now have that knowledge and the desire to not shy away form the new technology. This is vital; while it is useful to learn about the technologies of today, it is even more useful to gain the understanding of technology as a whole that will transcend time.

My big arrow is still using technology as a means to reflect and communicate (read: blogging). I am getting better, I am developing my voice to be more of a professional while still retaining my own voice, but I am still struggling with incorporating everything that blogging can do. Part of it is my creative writing background. I am a journal-keeper and I am a storyteller through words. I am getting better with hyperlinks and images, but it is not consistently in the forefront of my mind enough when I am writing these blog spots. I think the main issue is that I treat this more like a public journal more than anything else. This will come with experience and when the fall rolls around, a more deliberate look at my blog posts and setting individual blogging goals for myself, which I did not do this summer.

This summer has been one wild, busy and never-ending ride, and sometimes it feels that there more daunting days than not. But Michael recognized my inner geek, and I remember why I’m doing all of this. Here’s a comic courtesy of  http://zenpencils.com/ that reminds me why I want to teach, and more specifically teach science.

We all have to have our passions, and if passion makes you a geek, then so be it. If I can spread that message as a teacher, then I’m in the right place.

Sources Cited

 Chinn, C. & Malhotra B. (2002). Epistemologically Authentic Inquiry in Schools: A Theoretical Framework for Evaluating Inquiry Tasks. Science Education  86:175 – 218.

 Flick, L., & Bell, R. (2000). Preparing tomorrow’s science teachers to use technology: Guidelines for science educators. Contemporary Issues in Technology & Teacher Education , 1(1), 39-60.

 Windschitl, M. (2008). What is inquiry? A framework for thinking about scientific practice in the classroom. National Science Foundation.

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