Back in December, I looked at three possible units that I could redesign and infuse with technology for completion of the COETAIL Course 5 Project. I still like all those units as possibilities and of course, will be looking at ways to best support the learning in those units with various tools. However, I moved in a different direction for the unit I chose: Electricity and Electrical Devices in Grade 7+8 General Science.
I did this for a number of reasons (6 to be exact):
- I felt I could fairly easily deal with the units I had outlined as possibilities back in the Course 4 brainstorm and didn’t think it would be quite so rewarding to choose those
- The electricity unit in the 7+8 class has not been really developed to the extent of others, as the year came to an end too quickly to cover that material in the past
- I really wanted the students to work through electricity in a meaningful way and not have it fall off the table again at the end of the year
- Students in Grade 11+12 Physics found the electricity topics surprisingly challenging (for what I think are fairly straight-forward concepts), so a good intro and foundation in their middle school science might help to change that
- It is extremely dry in Japan during most of the winter and into spring, which makes a great environment for static electricity experiments (though this did not quite work out as planned as I will discuss in the future!)
- This topic as I have covered it in the past, while certainly being a hands-on and experiential type of learning, has not been heavy on embedding of technology, so I wanted to see what I could do to improve that aspect and try to make the learning more relevant
Being indecisive as I am, I really took too long making a decision and this left me with a stressful challenge of building a unit plan in time to begin this unit, which I moved from June up to March. The fact that spring break week and a week-long school trip fall in March are not helping the time crunch to successfully complete the entire unit when I would like. The good news is that I came up with more ideas than I thought possible and they all kind of flooded in at the same time. It is difficult to assume which activities will be most appropriate for a group of students and most successful for learning, as I will be attempting a number of new things. I guess that’s the point, though!
Below I have embedded my unit plan document within the school’s required template:
In digging for new ideas I came across this webpage analyzing misconceptions in static electricity. I’m always looking for this kind of thing because I find it interesting how students find so many different ways to build schema in their minds and the reasons behind them. Knowing ahead of time the potential misconceptions, they can better be built into the lesson while covering the material, which has been shown to improve learning and understanding.
I have to remind myself as we currently work through this unit that not everyday does technology have to be the centre of attention, not everyday do we need to have our faces in our laptop screens and not everyday does the technology we happen to use need to redefine the tasks to be completed. While I believe there are a number of new things being done in new ways in this unit, they run the range from substitution to redesign within the SAMR model. When implementing technology itself becomes the end goal ahead of focusing on how best to support learning, this provides a disservice to students. So in saying that, the aspects of tech integration I will use have been chosen in the hopes of best supporting the learning process.