Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Using Simulations in the Classroom

Due to the AFL strategies and observation foci I am well aware of how I should be using questioning in the classroom; aware of how I should be making learning outcomes clear and comment marking; I am also aware that I should have a variety of activities to engage the Learners. I am also in the process of considering the effectiveness of practicals in lessons as there is some degree of thought that a well designed demonstration is more helpful to learning than a practical.

However, I have never considered the effect and advantages of using simulations. Until now.

I have been involved in a project run by the science learning centres and Sheffield Hallam University, as part of which I have decide to use simulations more and see the impact.

Sheffield Hallam University kindly gave me access to sunflower learning for my students and myself. I used it with year 11 to look at split ring commutators and slip rings on the ac generators. The students accessed the software in a variety of ways. Some using the activities that you can set for the students, others just playing with the software without direction. Those that understood best were ones that I questioned and lead through the activities by my questioning. You can make your own resources for the students to use, and I expect that this would be my next step. It would help me and the students focus more closely on the learning objectives that I feel are best approached using the simulations instead of other teaching methods.

I have also used PHeT with year 12. This was to demonstrate the photoelectric effect. It took longer to log onto the computer than for the students to realise there is a threshold frequency. I wait to see if the students remember this experience more because they found out through a simulation.

Although the project has finished I want to continue to see the impact on my teaching and the learning of others of using simulations. My main issue is that at my current school we have access to laptops making it quick and easy to use a simulation as an activity in a lesson. At my new school I will have access to a computer lab, but using computers for 20 minutes of a lesson is going to be as practical.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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