Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Private Universe Project in Science

Workshop 6. Energy: Where Should We Start? (90 min.)

Whom do we see in the videotape?
Robert, a new teacher, discovers that sixth graders create models to predict the motions of objects. With this information as a foundation, how should Robert proceed with his lesson plan for next term?

What happens in the videotape?
The concepts of "friction" and "energy dissipation" are inventions of science. If the teacher tells the students to "ignore friction," will the students know what that means? If Robert presents a new problem in a different context, will his students accept and correctly apply the scientists' counter-intuitive definition of friction?

What problem does this session address?
We all live in a world dominated by friction. When we ice-skate or slip on a banana peel, friction is reduced for a time but it is never entirely removed. Students, however, are asked to "imagine a world without friction" when studying force and motion. Faced with the conflict between the world of everyday experience and the frictionless world they are asked to imagine, how are children to make sense of the lesson?

What teaching strategy does this session offer?
This session examines how students and teachers can work within a scientific view. The particular challenge is developing lessons that serve as bridges from the learner's experience to the scientist's view. In order to achieve this link, the teacher must first set content goals and elicit student ideas to make clear the gap between the learner's experience and the science idea. The lesson then becomes a platform across which the student can move from understanding ideas in an "everyday" context to understanding them in a "science" context. This strategy is called bridging and often employs analogies.


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