Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Chromebooks Supporting a Culture of Learning

For those who have read this blog before, you know that I am a science teacher who now trains other teachers in technology and the effective implementation of technology in the classroom.  As I work with teachers, I notice that there is more than just resistance or acceptance of technology in the classroom.  To me, more than the idea of teacher resistance or acceptance is the idea of the culture of the class.  I know that all teachers want their students to learn, but what type of culture are they reinforcing?  Teachers can reinforce a culture of knowing by standing in front of a class and talking at students all day or they can reinforce a culture of learning by working with students at times to find and learn.

I know that not all would agree with me, I have had arguments with teachers who felt I was wrong in working with students rather than being the professional knower in the front of the room.  One argument was over the periodic table.  She told me that students at the school should be responsible for memorizing the periodic table, that students had done this for years in the school district.  I had to do that when I went to a neighboring school.  To this day, I cannot see the point in memorizing the periodic table, it is in every science book and there are millions of them on the internet.  Why do I need to memorize it when I can look it up in two seconds?  She claimed it was part of learning science.  I claim that by making students look it up and find it, I am teaching them that there are things that are out there and they should know how to find it.  They should learn to search for themselves.  This whole technology thing allows people to not memorize things, they just need to be proficient in finding things.  If nothing else, changing from a knowing culture to a learning culture is a transformative (the Modification and Redefinition in SAMR) use of technology in the classroom.

When the teacher with whom I fought asked me how I teach the periodic table, I told her this...

I tell the students to open a chromebook and look it up.  If they are really snazzy, they can look up interactive Periodic Table.

  • I tell them to find two periodic tables based on looks and functionality.  
  • Compare and contrast them.  Which one is more accurate?  Which one is more precise?  I even have students collect data on the average number of place values to the right of the decimal for average atomic mass and use this as evidence of which periodic table is better.  
  • I lay out glassware that we will be using during the year around the room, how precise is the glassware?  Does the precision of the periodic table matter in a calculation of values if using measurements from the glassware?  
  • I have students find enough evidence to support the use of one of their periodic tables.  Students then take this argument and work in groups to come up with the best periodic table in the group, then argue with other groups.  
  • Its like March Madness for periodic tables, only one wins.  This takes about a week.
Though I could talk about the periodic table, this lesson asks students to look at the periodic table, delve into accuracy, precision, measurement, significant digits, lab equipment, supporting with evidence, argumentation.  In short, they are learning and there is no clear cut right answer, or there would only be one periodic table on the internet or published in books.

No comments:

Post a Comment