We began class today by addressing logistical questions about observations at Manor New Tech and Observations. Sara advised students to dress professionally and present themselves as pre-service educators rather than college students. Dr. Petrosino encouraged students to make a good faith effort to attend either or both of Blanton and McKinney Falls field trips this weekend in order to prepare for lessons. Both are informal learning environments with a number of different opportunities for lessons, and students should not get locked into thinking they are bound by their subject area and cannot learn from both locations
The class then formed pairs and collected data on reaction times by dropping a meter stick and recording the measurement at which it was caught. Each partner collected this data both with eyes open and eyes closed. At the conclusion of this activity, Dr. Petrosino asked if the activity was engaging, and everyone agreed that the data collection was relatively engaging- students were laughing, having fun, and talking while they were performing the task. He mentioned ways in which this activity could be extended, e.g., by converting from distance to time, calculating reaction times, and/or looking at statistical significance. In the assigned Petrosino, Lehrer, and Schauble (2003) reading, similar “simple” data collection was used to springboard lessons on significance and asking when a difference is really a difference.
The students were then challenged by Dr. Petrosino to expand this meter stick activity from an engaging isolated activity into a “big P” Project. He reinforced that there is no particular correct answer, and encouraged students to consider the design principles that have been covered in the readings, and to define their “stake in the ground.” In other words, how students approach designing a project depends on which school of PBI thought they are following- Barron, Krajcik, or Buck Institute- and students should design elements according to which of these they are using as a guiding principle.
Students worked on this exercise in groups for the rest of the class. Some ideas that were being developed by groups included:
-Using this activity to introduce the concept of variability, and use it to introduce ideas in evolution and adaptation in a Biology class.
-Using this activity as an example of organ systems acting in concert building from there to cover organ systems in general.
-working with reaction time in general as a way to teach experimental process, and having students design further experiments to address questions such as how texting affects reactions when driving.
This activity took the remainder of class; Dr. Petrosino ended class by reminding students that they may want to revisit the readings and continue using them as resources rather than to read and forget.
Article: Petrosino, A., Lehrer, R., & Schauble, L. (2003). "Structuring error and experimental variation as distribution in the fourth grade." Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 5 (2&3), 131-156.
Picture: Two of my mentors, colleagues, and friends: Leona Schauble and Rich Lehrer