Curricular technology integration for everyday physics and mathematics Essay

Curricular technology integration for everyday physics and mathematics

Executive overview

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            Role of technology in education such as the information technology (IT) for example has generated an avalanche of studies and its share of controversies. The core issue touches on the fundamental values we give to knowledge and education to acquire, understand and use such knowledge. Consequently the importance of education has been framed in the context of these new ITs which in the last decade has made considerable impact on the lives of people and some analysts contends is redefining how we behave and confront current social challenges and realities.

            A community school with typical curriculum offerings of physical sciences like physics for grades 5 to 7.  As much as there is need for tailor-suiting a subject into teaching priorities of schools, there is need for a general package which could be used under any set of school teaching priorities. <Insert name of school> is one of the many charter schools which we are proposing to be a prototype.

  Proper documentation and codification of pre-set indicators based on accepted district indicators of performance and evaluation of grade levels 5 to 7.

            The expected outcome once the proposal is adapted and implemented is two-fold:

Impact on the students including

The ability to discuss the relationships between the factors of learning in an IT enriched learning situation
Increased comprehension of subject matter and increased awareness of how to search out or acquire further knowledge on the subject matter.
Ability to perform the exercises both written, oral or simple Excel programs and calculations
Ability to perform in a team or group situation showing the proper decorum and protocols.
Several interactive softwares will be briefly surveyed for the purpose of grant writing which will be recommended for use in a classroom setting for a period of a semester or two offerings in a school year.

            Appropriate training and orientation for teachers and school officials will be undertaken for better appreciation and implementation.

Rationale

Computer use of students in a way mimicks the reality situations and given Gardner’s, Bandura’s and Bruner’s theories it is possible to develop the students’ potentials with interest and focus on the students’s specific observed strengths and weaknesses.  The use of IT sufficiently liberates the teaching situation to take on diverse interest, the challenge then is keeping it focused on particular objectives for teaching physics and mathematics for example.

            Most schools today include IT in their curriculum offering, be it as a course in itself or as tools of learning. There is a virtual array of softwares which educators could choose from.

            Teaching sciences with heavy application of mathematics could be undaunting to students but nevertheless knowledge of physics and mathematics is critical to future studies of virtually all field of specialization. In this knowledge are, IT could be a creative and innovative tool in engaging the students by greatly enhancing the learning situation both its environment and substance.

            There is clearly a need for innovative and creative approaches if we would want to fully harness the potential of an enriched learning environment provided by IT which could make teaching physics and mathematics an enjoyable experience. Ensuring no substance is lost, that is ensuring that the course is rooted on core values and guided by proper scientific grounding and understanding is the domain of teachers and the school.

Goals and objectives

            The general objective of the program to enhance the ability of the students to master key learning areas in physics and mathematics.  Specifically, by the end of the year, grade five to seven students will be

able to use various educational softwares in aid of learning the basics of physics and mathematics.
able to construct simple virtual experiments using any of the available simulation software.
able to identify knowledge areas which strong and weak and make appropriate individual plan to improve.
able to exhibit the skills learned by performing the standard exercises both written, oral or simple Excel programs and calculations
able to work in a group situation showing the proper decorum and protocols

Narrative summary

Conceptual scheme

            There are three levels of measure of success which will be employed in the grant proposal. The cognitive level, in which the students will be able to learn to identify relationships and complexity in a given learning situation, the affective which social-psychologist calls is the realms of emotions and values; and the behavior (psycho-motor) which is in the context of schooling is essentially prescribed skills acquired by the students in undergoing the class.

            These three aspects of learning is so intimate that in actual classroom situation these three aspects are dynamically at work. The fear that IT is replacing the teachers is unfounded because close observations of classroom situation show that because of the introduction of IT, teachers are confronted by a greater challenge of teaching not only the subject matter, say physics but teaching how to use IT and more important help the students contextualize IT as a powerful tool but a tool nonetheless, the creativity and innovations which may come out of IT use is still supplied by the students. Hence contrary to belief that IT taking on the “teaching” the teachers are now more than ever essential if students are to fully grasp the implications of emerging technologies in their lives and in society. I think that there is still no software in the world which could teach that.

Description of critical activities

Preparatory stage(two months):  This includes leveling-off with teachers and school official as to the core philosophy of the IT enhanced teaching of physics and mathematics and basic preparations for teachers.

 The school will be engaged in the final selection among an array of possible software and hardware to be used by the class. The preparatory stage is perhaps the most important as it 1) would generate a consensus as to the merits of using IT and how it will be used in the classrooms, 2) would identify the advantages of using IT, 3) would identify the adjustment areas and new learning areas for teachers by presenting the guidepost for teachers and users.  More important, the teachers and school officials will be engaged in determining the specific measures of success which will be used in evaluating the program.

Training and software familiarization immediately follows after the leveling off.  Chosen software on enhancing teaching of physics and mathematics will be dry run by the concerned teachers and officials.

Initial assessment using the favored testing scales applicable to the particular school will be used.

Implementing stage:  This stage is divided into 4 sub-stages.

The first sub stage is familiarization and exploration wherein the students will be allowed to explore the softwares. The teacher supervises the logging of the basic research or project interest of the students.

The second sub-stage is problem solving wherein the students will be given will be given exercises and guided on how they could approach and finally solve the problems. The particular exercise and problems will be worked during the training and orientation of teachers to ground the subject matter with the teaching priorities of the school. As an illustration, the approach of making “difficult” subjects enjoyable and everyday and ordinary could help unlock the potential of students for technical and scientific studies later in their life. Sports could be taken as an example of physics application and concepts such as gravity, velocity and momentum could be effectively explained in the turn-around jumper of Dwayne Wade of Miami Heat. Problems could be stated based on situations which the students could easily relate like for example, if Shaq in the other side of the court throws the ball to Wade for a fast break and he catches the ball 2.2 second after Shaq threw the ball and assuming the distance between them is 80 feet, how fast is the ball going?

The third sub-stage is integration which combines all knowledge and skills acquired in a group project.  The nature of the project could be limited only by the available resources in the school.

The fourth sub-stage is evaluation, the method of which will be determined in the preparatory stage of the program.

We take note that the four sub-stages are not rigid subdivisions but co-exist in any particular time. Meaning, the students and teachers are constantly evaluating and self-assessing in every step of the way in mastering the softwares and IT in the context of knowledge and understanding of specific subject matters like physics and mathematics.

Project timeline

May – July

1. Leveling-off between teachers, officials and technology provider

2. Selection and trying out of softwares and websites

3. Procurement of hardware and trial versions of possible software to be used

4. Survey of existing school conditions for connectivity

5. Scheduling of the training session for teachers and officials with the technology service provider

6. Training of teachers on the basic use of softwares and generation of possible classroom exercises and evaluation scheme to measure success.

August -December

1. Documentation and coding of students who will take the IT enhanced physics and mathematics classes.

2. Teachers will administer their preferred assessment instruments

3. Analysis of assessment results together with school officials and technology service provider.

4. Start of contact sessions with students. First sub-stage of exploring the software.

August – December 2005

1. Second substage of the program

2. Continuing assessment

3.  Enhancement session with teachers to assist them in classroom management

January 2006 – May 2006

1. Third sub-stage: The students assisted by the teachers and the school will determine and mount their chosen projects.

2. Continuing assessment and consultation with the technology provider

3.  Final assessment of the whole program

4. Evaluation of results and presentation to the parents and school officials.

Budget allotment

Item
Description
Price
1
P4 or Mac and other

4,000.00
2
Assorted software
For use in the exploration and familiazation with IT tools
1,000.00
3
Access to online sites
To be determined at the leveling-off and start of training program for teachers
3,000.00

Training cost and exercises development and printing

2,000.00

References

Bruner’s curriculum theories, http://www.infed.org/thinkers/bruner.htm

JEROME BRUNER, http://evolution.massey.ac.nz/assign2/BP/Bruner.html

Howard Gardner, Multiple intelligences and education, http://www.infed.org/thinkers/gardner.htm

Boyd, Michael, Cognitive-affective sources of sport enjoyment in adolescent sports participants, http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2248/is_n122_v31/ai_18435719

McKenzie, Jamie, One flew over the high school, http://www.fno.org/dec03/flickering.html
Attachment:

Sample of available softwares to aid teaching physics and mathematics

YOUNG EINSTEIN MATHEMATICS

Manufacturer: Maths Practice Pty. Ltd. Version: 3.1

Best Price: $69.50

Young Einstein Mathematics, offered by Maths Practice educational software, includes over 330 activities in its’ school edition and over 250 in its single user edition. It covers a wide variety of math–based subjects with tutorials, games and homework study materials.

Although this program, with all of its modules, is reported to be for primary school, we found the subjects more applicable to older children, perhaps in the 4th to 6th grade range. If fact we found this software to cover more subjects than any of the other programs that we reviewed.

Ease of Use:  We gave Young Einstein Mathematics a low ease of use rating because the software may be difficult for younger children to use on their own. Older kids and adults likely will not encounter any problems running and using this program.

Their website states that the program is for “primary” school. However, by US standards we think that it is most suitable for the fourth through 6th grades since the software might be too complicated for younger children to use by themselves.

Feature Set:  Young Einstein Mathematics offers more activities than any of the other programs that we reviewed. This software covers a variety of basic math subjects as well as fractions, tables, number, space, measurement and probability.

The program has the ability to monitor and track progress, supports a variety of skill levels and offers free upgrades.

For institutional use, they offer a flexible site license that covers multiple users and allows the student to use a version at home as well.

Educational Value:  If kids use this program to its fullest potential and master the subjects presented, they will be far ahead of other children their own age. We liked the fact that this software covers a broad range of subjects, so that an individualized study plan can be designed based on the curriculum covered in the students’ classroom.

Kid Appeal:  This software displays cartoon type images but they are not animated. Some of the other programs like Mighty Math Zoo Zillions, offer animated characters and interactive games that may be more appealing to young children.

Help/Support:  This program offers a FAQs page, email and telephone support – this product is produced in Australia so phone support (which is not toll free) from the US could be expensive.

Summary: Young Einstein Mathematics offers a comprehensive collection of topic material in subjects ranging from measurements to estimations to conversions, but seems more appropriate for older children than K–3rd.

This is an excellent choice for children past the 2nd grade; however, if you have a child in the early years you may want to consider Mighty Math Zoo Zillion or Carnival Countdown or Reader Rabbit’s Math.

See: http://math-software-review-k-3.toptenreviews.com/young-einstein-mathematics-review.html

_______________________

MIGHTY MATH ZOO ZILLIONS

Manufacturer: Riverdeep Interactive Learning Version:

Best Price: $24.99

Boost your kids’ brainpower and math confidence with Mighty Math Zoo Zillions, our “TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award” winner. This animated math program teaches math fundamentals through zoo animal characters and amusing interactive games.

This program covers the basics such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and also presents word problems and early geometry through a variety of skill levels.

We found Mighty Math Zoo Zillions to be the most entertaining yet educational game we reviewed for young math students, including those who are just learning to read.

Ease of Use:  Mighty Math Zoo Zillions is easy to use. Kids should have no problem navigating through the program and playing the games after parents walk them through the first time.

Feature Set: This program covers the math fundamentals in “Annie’s Jungle Trail” as well as reasoning, number relationships and spatial awareness through five activity areas. The activity areas include the “Gnu Ewe Boutique” where kids can learn how to count money and add/subtract decimals as change. Some of the activities even have a two–player option.

Zoo Zillions includes word problems and spoken story problems that are suitable for young children who are just learning to read. It also offers activities in counting forward and backward on a number line.

Mighty Math Zoo Zillions is quite similar to Mighty Math Carnival Countdown, except it includes word problems and covers multiplication, division and 3D geometry. Therefore, Carnival Countdown may be more suitable for younger children (4-7), whereas Zoo Zillions offers a few more subjects and might be more applicable to the 5 to 8–year old range.

Educational Value:  The games and activities in this program present all the basic math fundamentals in an entertaining manner. This would be a great supplement to an introduction to math curriculum and the spoken story problems can help those just learning to read.

Kid Appeal:  The vibrant colors, animated characters and interactive cartoon–type games proved to be appealing to young children. Children have particular tastes when it comes to graphics and unfortunately, many educational programs cannot compete; however, this program has the ability to capture young children’s attention and instill the math basics that will support their future advancement in mathematics.

Summary: This interactive program makes math enjoyable. Through Mighty Math Zoo Zillions, your kids can become excited, aspiring mathematicians faster than you can say Pythagorean Theorem.

See: http://math-software-review-k-3.toptenreviews.com/mighty-math-zoo-zillions-review.html

________________________

CROCODILE PHYSICS (V1.0)

            Category: Science and Engineering

            Publisher: Crocodile Clips Ltd       More titles >>

            Last Updated: Oct 16, 1999

            Requirements: Not specified

            License: Demo

            Operating system: Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000

            Price: Not specified

Crocodile Physics  v1.0 Description: is a simulator for high school students covering electricity, force and motion, optics, and measurement. Simulating experiments with Crocodile Physics is simple. Just drag the components you need onto the screen, link them together and watch them spring to life as you draw. You can also use the multimedia editor to write your own interactive lessons.

See: http://www.freesoft.bz/categ.asp?id=51

“Bruner’s curriculum theories.”

            It is surely the case that schooling is only one small part of how a culture inducts the young into its canonical ways. Indeed, schooling may even be at odds with a culture’s other ways of inducting the young into the requirements of communal living…. What has become increasingly clear… is that education is not just about conventional school matters like curriculum or standards or testing. What we resolve to do in school only makes sense when considered in the broader context of what the society intends to accomplish through its educational investment in the young. How one conceives of education, we have finally come to recognize, is a function of how one conceives of culture and its aims, professed and otherwise. (Jerome S. Bruner 1996: ix-x)

Four key themes emerge out of the work around The Process of Education (1960: 11-16):

The role of structure in learning and how it may be made central in teaching. The approach taken should be a practical one. ‘The teaching and learning of structure, rather than simply the mastery of facts and techniques, is at the center of the classic problem of transfer… If earlier learning is to render later learning easier, it must do so by providing a general picture in terms of which the relations between things encountered earlier and later are made as clear as possible’ (ibid.: 12).

Readiness for learning. Here the argument is that schools have wasted a great deal of people’s time by postponing the teaching of important areas because they are deemed ‘too difficult’.

We begin with the hypothesis that any subject can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development. (ibid.: 33)

This notion underpins the idea of the spiral curriculum – ‘A curriculum as it develops should revisit this basic ideas repeatedly, building upon them until the student has grasped the full formal apparatus that goes with them’ (ibid.: 13).

Intuitive and analytical thinking. Intuition (‘the intellectual technique of arriving and plausible but tentative formulations without going through the analytical steps by which such formulations would be found to be valid or invalid conclusions’ ibid.: 13) is a much neglected but essential feature of productive thinking. Here Bruner notes how experts in different fields appear ‘to leap intuitively into a decision or to a solution to a problem’ (ibid.: 62)  – a phenomenon that Donald Schön was to explore some years later – and looked to how teachers and schools might create the conditions for intuition to flourish.

Motives for learning. ‘Ideally’, Jerome Bruner writes, interest in the material to be learned is the best stimulus to learning, rather than such external goals as grades or later competitive advantage’ (ibid.: 14). In an age of increasing spectatorship, ‘motives for learning must be kept from going passive… they must be based as much as possible upon the arousal of interest in what there is be learned, and they must be kept broad and diverse in expression’ (ibid.: 80).

 

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