As part of my Summer learning I have been asked to viewFrank Noschese’s TEDxNYED talk from April 28, 2012 as he discussesthe effectiveness of a hands-on, inquiry-based approach to STEM.
The idea of using models to facilitate learning is nothing new in the lower levels. Most kids learn to count by using physical objects. Count the blocks. The kids learns by doing. This is the premise of creating and using models in classroom instruction. By using a model kids can experience the learning instead of just reading about the learning.
Through using models the classroom instruction that was based on lecture, textbook reading, and formula memorization is replaced by a set of problems, which create the model. There is instruction, but it has been redesigned to provide necessary background information from which the kids can draw to complete the task. While deploying this idea teachers must remember that kids do not automatically know how to apply what they know to solving actual problems. Kids need to be walked through the process and learn how it works before being left to fend for themselves.
The great part about using models is that it fairly easy to know if it is working, which means you get to adjust on the fly. Please note I did not say failure because when you are using models or you get the chance to work through things. You start with a plan or idea and you work the plan and adjust the plan to move through the obstacles that may appear in front of you. This is the way real people work everyday. They work and when something is not working the way it is supposed to work they adjust. They do not just sit down and say it is wrong, which oddly, is the way education seems to be with all of its multiple choice assessments.
Using models is helpful in STEM as it gets the students doing rather than memorizing. Whereas, I am a Social Studies teacher I try to apply these concepts into my world by getting the kids doing. If students are learning about government than students should be doing government. It is easy to get a test centered mentality and focus on the facts that will be seen on test, but does that foster the learning that will prepare them to be innovative and creative problem solvers. The skill of problem solving is learned by actually solving problems not by memorizing vocabulary words and dates. I hope to apply more model based learning this year.
Would love to hear what you think … please share your ideas.