In my last post, I shared my perspective on the choice I believe we, as a science education community, are facing as we make the transition to distance learning. To summarize, I believe that science educators are at a decision point. Do we allow our current challenges to move us backwards, toward teacher-centered, didactic science learning? Or do we move forward toward student-centered, constructivist science learning, embracing the current challenges along the way? I am taking the stance that we must move forward. We must apply the educational theories and paradigms that have guided our classroom approach to design high-quality distance learning.
You might be thinking, “Easier said than done.” And I wholeheartedly agree. We are in the midst of doing something that has never been done before. It’s hard. Moving forward requires us to figure some things out. I want you to know that I am trying to figure things out too, right alongside you.
I asked myself, “What can science teachers do, tomorrow, to continue moving science education forward?” What I came up with is just one possible first step that we can take—to use video conferencing technology to facilitate hands-on science lessons with students. So I’ve started with a series of four videos in which I will share some of my ideas and suggestions. Please know, these videos are far from perfect. It’s just me, at home, with a few dogs and kids running around, doing the best I can. I figured this is probably how you are teaching, too, so you’ll understand.
You may not need all of the videos, so select and apply the ones that work best for you and your students.
Setting Up For Video Conferences – A few suggestions for getting set up for video conferencing and science demonstrations. I used Zoom, but other programs would work as well.
A Basic Formula for Facilitation – How to use the Predict/Observe/Explain formula to facilitate students’ hands-on science or demonstrations.
Facilitation and Collaboration Strategies – Strategies to increase students’ engagement and collaboration during video conferences.
Demo Science Lesson – A demonstration of a hands-on science investigation that could be done with common household materials.
While these videos aren’t meant to summarize all of the great ideas on the facilitation of distance science learning that are out there, they’re a starting place. Our journey forward requires a first step. Facilitating these kinds of demonstrations and hands-on science lessons with your students may very well be your first step into a new approach to science learning.
I would love to hear your thoughts and appreciate the opportunity to partner with you as we “Move Forward.”