Science Units for Grades 9-12

By Deborah Aufdenspring; Ian C. Binns et al. | Go to book overview

Guideline 1

TECHNOLOGY SHOULD BE INTRODUCED IN THE CONTEXT
OF SCIENCE CONTENT

In the science classroom, technology should be presented as a means, not an end. Obviously, students benefit from learning a variety of technology-related skills, including the ability to use word processors, presentation software, spreadsheets, and the Internet. However, the purpose of technology use in science instruction is not about teaching the technology itself, but about enhancing the learning experience for students. Teaching a set of technology or software-based skills and then trying to find scientific topics for which they might be useful separates the use of the technology from the reason for using it. It obscures the purpose of learning and using technology in the science classroom by removing the context for learning the technology in the first place.

For these reasons, it is much more effective (and pedagogically sound) to introduce new technologies within the context of scientific questions and problems. This inquiry-based approach is modeled throughout the activities described in this book. The units focus on standards-based content and typically begin with a question or challenge for students that can be addressed most effectively through the use of technology. As students work to answer the questions or solve the problems, they will be challenged to use new technology or unfamiliar features of existing technology. This, in turn, will provide [just-in-time] opportunities for teachers to instruct students on the use of the technology. The result is seamless integration of technology in science instruction.


Guideline 2

TECHNOLOGY SHOULD ADDRESS WORTHWHILE SCIENCE
WITH APPROPRIATE PEDAGOGY

In the book The Teaching of Science, J. J. Schwab commented more than 40 years ago that science is too commonly taught as

a nearly unmitigated rhetoric of conclusions in which the current and temporary
constructions of scientific knowledge are conveyed as empirical, literal, and irre-
vocable truths [in which students are asked] to accept the tentative as certain,
the doubtful as undoubted, by making no mention of reasons or evidence for
what it asserts, (p. 24)

In contrast to this absolute view of science as a compilation of ready-made knowledge, teaching science as an ongoing process requires students to be active participants who are engaged in asking questions, observing and inferring, collecting and analyzing data, and drawing conclusions. Appropriate uses of technology should emphasize process skills in addition to the more typical science content. Activities involving technology should make appropriate connections to student experiences and promote student-centered, inquiry-based learning. Activities should support sound scientific curricular goals rather than be used merely because technology makes them possible. Indeed, the use of technology in science instruction should support and facilitate conceptual development, process skills, and habits of mind that make up scientific literacy, as described by the National Science Education Standards and the Benchmarks for Science Literacy.

-10-

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