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Constructivism in Science Education Focus on learning and what we know about how people learn. Session Goals • Establish a common understanding of constructivism as a learning theory • Engage in a pendulum activity • Connect these ideas of teaching and learning to the state assessment There is a biological basis for learning that can inform our teaching practices. Dr. Larry Lowery UC Berkeley Focus Question: When discussing the building of pathways in the brain, Dr. Lowery makes the comment, “This is where the word constructivism comes from.” What does the word “constructivism” mean to you? Making Connections to Ideas on Constructivism • Complete the following pages in your packet in this order: – Pre-assessment – Pendulum: Swingers Activity – Post-assessment • Discussion Constructivism The theory that people build their own knowledge and their own representations of knowledge from their own experience and thought. The Power of Children’s Thinking “The moon is following us. It followed us the whole time we were in the car and now it is outside my bedroom window.” Chris Preisinger, age 4 “The sun moves around us. It goes down on one side and comes up on the other.” Zak Taylor, 3rd grade Constructivists understand… What people learn is not simply a duplication of what they observe in their surroundings, but the result of their own thinking and processing (building their own pathways). Quotes from 11 year old's science exams... “When you breath, you inspire. When you do not breath, you expire." "H2O is hot water, and CO2 is cold water" "Water is composed of two gins, Oxygin and Hydrogin. Oxygin is pure gin. Hydrogin is gin and water." "Dew is formed on leaves when the sun shines down on them and makes them perspire." How People Learn “Students come to the classroom with preconceptions about how the world works. If their initial understanding is not engaged, they may fail to grasp the new concepts and information that are taught, or they may learn them for purposes of a test but revert to their preconceptions outside the classroom.” (p. 10, How People Learn) Think about your own teaching, what does this statement mean? Learning activities must begin by considering: • students’ current knowledge • how that knowledge is constructed Prior Beliefs • Learners begin their formal study of science with ideas already in place about the natural world. • Some parts of these ideas are correct, but some are not. Basis for Conceptual Change • Learners become aware of conflict between what they thought was true and what they observe. • Existing conceptions must fail to explain some new observation. • For conceptual change to occur, their existing conceptions must be unsatisfactory. Process of Conceptual Change • Learners make predictions about the situation based on prior understandings. • When these predictions do not work, learners question their prior beliefs. • This brings existing beliefs to the surface, giving the teachers access to what is in the learners’ minds. •Teachers can help learners reconstruct their beliefs in ways that include the new information. Primary Role of the Teacher • Ask questions to explore learner’s previously constructed information – looking for preconceptions. • Lead learners through exploratory activities that enable them to investigate on their own and come to their own conclusions. • Interact with each to see how he or she is constructing the new information and help to formulate accurate scientific conclusions. When children have the opportunity to cultivate their own skills and construct their own ideas and concepts, then they can develop an understanding of the world that is deep and real, and begin to enjoy, understand, predict, and generate new knowledge on their own. Welcome Back! 1 – Consider how questioning can be used as assessment to measure what students are learning. 2 – Make a connection to the Science WASL Strategies to Assess What Students are Learning •Formative assessments •Pre-Assessments •observations •Summative assessments •Post-Assessments •State Assessment – WASL •End of Unit Assessments WASL-style questioning (in packet) • Writing a Conclusion Item • Planning an Investigation Item • Variables Handout More Quotes from 11 year old's science exams… "Nitrogen is not found in Ireland because it is not found in a free state" "Mushrooms always grow in damp places and so that is why they look like umbrellas." "The body consists of three parts- the brainium, the borax and the abominable cavity. The brainium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abominable cavity contains the bowls, of which there are five - a, e, i, o, and u." "The tides are a fight between the Earth and moon. All water tends towards the moon, because there is no water in the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins in this fight." "Planet: A body of Earth surrounded by sky." "To keep milk from turning sour: Keep it in the cow."
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