Modeling Workshop: Week 1 (Fear and Respect The Hestenes)
Nominally, what Modeling Instruction appears to be is an attempt to formalize instructional strategies that actually track how humans learn stuff. Example:
Funny thing happens => Curiosity piqued => Go back to task at hand => Eat sandwich => Funny thing happens again => Look for patterns => Near obsession with characterization to the point of oversimplification => New funny things happen => Revise Model
I’ve been sitting in a room for 8 hours each day with about 25 other teachers. In that time the phrase:
“Yea, but they [students] don’t know enough yet to do that”
has been uttered more than a handful of times.
This is the fundamental teacher misconception that Modeling, Inquiry, or whatever other hyper-effective method of teaching is trying to address and expunge.
In the world of academia it used to go like this:
Teach the end result through direct instruction => Maybe, if there’s time, we’ll let you sort of do something that verifies how smart the book is => Contemplate changing major
I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but modeling really turns that mentality on its ear while breaking out some teeth just to make itself clear.
Models From Week 1:
Here are the models we’ve covered in week 1; it’s painful how simple this is, yet almost unreal how powerful going through the curriculum has been:
1. The constant velocity model. Or, let’s pretend everything moves at constant speed and can be described by:
2. Accelerated motion model. So, things change speed, do they? Interesting. Parabolas are discussed and linearized by graphing Position vs. t^2 (which is an awesome thing to do)
3. So, it turns out acceleration doesn’t always happen. Why? Invent the concept of Force. (Net force) The fundamentals of Newton’s first and third are discussed, and some pretty killer misconceptions are foiled. Such as the impetus concept, wherein students believe that there’s a magic force pushing all moving objects.
That’s as far as we’ve gotten, and I’ve drunk a metric crap-ton of Modeling flavored Kool-Aid.
Because they do the experiments first, analyze the data, and cull the concepts out. The experiments are hand-picked for their simplicity and clarity, which I hated at first, but now I totally see the point.
I will absolutely be adopting Modeling’s paradigm labs as my guided investigations from here on out. Open inquiries will then follow, after some killer white boarding.
A few notes from working with other teachers:
- Teachers want to be validated as professional educators and content knowledge specialists. This need comes out during discussions and can often be very repetitive.
- Many teachers view technology as an add-on instead of as an opportunity for totally new things. If the technology doesn’t make something they already do easier, they don’t see the point. Those of us that dig edu-tech need to communicate better how to by creative with it.
- Almost every teacher claims to value “critical thinking” above all else. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m scared that what is a fantastic sentiment could translate into being snotty in the face of genuine student questions.
- I’m a huge douche when it comes to thinking I know what someone is about to say. I always think I do because the language of teaching is so plural. I need to work on that, I bet people think I’m mean. Or, stated another way: If you think you’re already “doing” every new idea, pedagogy, and assessment strategy, you’re probably not, and you may be douchey, like me.
- Just listen for a hot second; we’re all professionals at more than one thing, after all.
- (Oh, and sitting in one of those plastic chairs sucks for any duration longer than 15 minutes)