Two science classes and digital learning tools: a snapshotI have the privilege of working with a local secondary school, and I've made some blog posts in the past based on observations of music and languages. Science is in the spotlight today, specifically a Level 2 NCEA Physics class and a Year 10 Science class.
What's really interesting is not only the different tools the teachers included, but also the ways in which students got to problem-solve using them. It is quite clear to me that these teachers thought deeply about the learning goals first and then appropriated tools to help that happen.
Level 2 PhysicsThis class was all about understanding the symbols relevant to components of electrical circuits and the theory related to each named item - eg resistor, battery, voltmeter, ammeter, charge, current... She began the lesson, once students had grabbed a Chromebook from the COW (Computers on Wheels), by reviewing information about key words. She then made available a document that contained two links - one to a set of Slides and the other to an interactive site where students could problem-solve how to create specific circuits and answer specific questions. What struck me as most interesting in observing student behaviours, included:
- adaptive help-seeking: comparing ideas and ways of solving the circuit problems, or connectivity issues
- playing with the site: creating different kinds of circuits, wondering what would happen if.. and trying it out
- asking the teacher for help if they were unsure: the teacher could then spend time with individuals on a just-in-time and just-in-need basis
- a studied silence - the talk was low and mostly focused on the task ahead - and a lot of concentration. Talk centred on seeking and responding to queries from each other. The climate was definitely purposeful and directed at task completion
- sharing the tasks: some students open different screens to facilitate the task completing as a pair.
|Working together on building an electrical circuit|
Year 10 Science
|Creating a Voki voice message|
Comments: So what?
Using digital tools that can support students to deepen their knowledge and understanding while offering opportunities to review and reshape ideas is valuable in school contexts. When schools also don't need to house equipment or replace worn out materials is also sensible. The manipulation of physical tools and materials might mean learning happens differently from when the tools are digital. However, the same content knowledge might be learned less arduously when the tools are digital. That is certainly the message students convey.