What We Call Misconceptions May Be Necessary Stepping-Stones Toward Making Sense of the World I
When reading What We Call Misconceptions May Be Necessary Stepping-Stones Toward Making Sense of the World I appreciated that the authors took their time to give a variety of examples of different ages when explaining their concepts. I learned and took a few ideas away a science teaching lens.
The first thing I learned more in depth about was the importance of your response to a student when they’re explaining their science theories. I personally feel that my natural classroom management style incorporates this, but after reading the multiple scenarios of responses to children I realized that there is so much for me to work on. I appreciate that Campbell, Schwartz and Windschitl have a common theme of carefully thinking about your next move so that students will not be disengaged or lose confidence when explaining the thoughts.
This leads me to my second learning; engagement. Engagement is everything when it comes to teaching in general. As educators we strive to connect students skills to the real world and use many different tactics to keep them interested in learning the subject matter. This article talked a lot about engagement and how if your science lesson is not engaging, the students will not be interested in learning, participating in experiments or inquiry. Most importantly, without engagement, we won’t be able to take some of those misconceptions and alter them slightly to help students better understand the world.
Finally, though collaborating with other students in the classroom is such an obvious thing to do, this article highlighted just how important it is for classmates to converse about their findings. There were a few specific scenarios scripted in this article that outlined how, when taught and directed by a teacher at first, can become very student run later on in the school year. In the one case, the students were both talking about their findings and how similar the outcomes were. Without knowing, they were talking about a law of physics but explaining and connecting it to their worlds and what they could developmentally understand.
Knowing the importance of your response as teacher, the level of engagement in a lesson and teaching kids how to collaborate with one another is vital when teaching. But, what about the beginning of the school year or at a the start of a new unit? It’s hard to teach if we don’t know where to go and what misconceptions students bring. Using pre-assessments as a tool to understand what they know and what misinterpretations that may carry is such an important place to start. We use pre-assessments in math, reading and many other subjects. Why not science?
I don’t know if I’ve caught any wacky ideas as far through conversations, however, when working on a STEM project at the beginning of the year to build up the classroom community I was blown away by the structures my students were building. They were shown what happens to homes near earthquakes and analyzed different bases. They then were given toothpicks and marshmallows and had to create a structures with specific dimensions to withstand an ‘earthquake’ on a block of Jell-O. Almost every student built a straight line horizonal and then continues to build vertical. They did not understand the importance of some sort of quadrilateral shape being the base of the structure. I’m excited to bring in that engineering portion into my science teaching more this upcoming year!
Finally, after reading this article, I’m excited to fine tune my teaching style even more. I want my big focus to be teaching students how to talk to each other and what they’ve discovered. As I always tell them, they can learn just as much, if not more, from their peers as they can from me!