Thomas Parker: Using Hands-On Activities in Science


Thomas Parker's Portfolio Page

Overview and Purpose

This course is designed for science teachers, both new and seasoned, in the science content, however, it could prove useful for other contents as well. Hands-on learning has a plethora of data supporting its use in many contents, but especially in science. Using hands-on activities and knowing when they are successful are of paramount importance to the instructor. The course will be broken into 3 main units with specific lessons designed to hit on the target objectives of the overall course. A fourth Unit will be treated as an overall knowledge assessment. Each unit will include activities and lessons to work through the enabling objectives required to hit those target objectives. At the beginning and end of the course will be a short journal activity designed to help see track the growth of the learner in a pseudo self-assessment strategy.

Needs Assessment

I have found through a needs assessment that hands-on learning is recognized as important by many teachers, but it is not always used in the correct manner or at the correct point in time in the overall sequencing of the content. This need shows that there needs to be a better understanding of what hands-on learning looks like, what the results are(should be) and how to implement this learning at the correct time.

Performance Objectives

1.Identify the components of a hands-on learning activity.

2. Determine a hands-on activity's effectiveness based on the results of students' demonstration of the content.

3.Participants will reflect on their knowledge and abilities with hands-on learning at the beginning and end of the mini-course(ongoing reflection).

4.Rate and assess two different hands-on activities to determine which is the best activity to use in a lesson.

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page.

PRE-COURSE JOURNAL: In a journal, please reflect on hands-on learning. What do you think it is? How can we as teachers use it? What are some of the benefits? What are some of the difficulties in implementation? At the end of the course you will be asked to answer the same prompt and go back to your original journal entry to see your growth throughout this course.

Unit 1: What is Hands-On Learning?

For those that have higher levels of experience with hands-on learning and instruction, this section of the mini-course can be a quick refresher. For those that are less experienced, you will want to dig into this unit in more depth as this is going to lay the foundation for what hands-on learning is which will provide useful information and context for the rest of the mini-course on how to use hands-on learning.

Unit 2: The Effects of Successful Hands-On Learning

This unit will dive into the effects of hands-on learning. What type of people is our education creating? How are we enabling our students to succeed in the real world post high school? Hands-on learning can play a huge role in this.

Unit 3: When Should We Use Hands-On Learning?

Hands-on learning has many benefits, but can we do hands-on activities at any time? There is always the idea of having the right amount of prior knowledge to be pushed a little, but still complete what is asked. In this manner, we will keep our students in the zone of proximal development(Vygotsky).

Unit 4: Mini-Course Assessment-Identify the Better Hands-On Lesson Similar to the scenarios, I would like you to choose the better hands-on lesson based on what you have learned in this mini-course. This will be a bit more in depth than just the focus of prior-knowledge as was the case for UNIT 3. I will include links to any resources or worksheets used in the lesson to give you more information to work with in your assessment of the hands-on lessons.

POST COURSE JOURNAL: I would like you to again reflect on your knowledge of hands-on activities and learning. Has anything changed with your knowledge and/or outlook on hands-on activities? Will you use more of these types of lessons in your curriculum? If so, why? If not, what would your recommend.

Comments and Questions

Feel free to use the link posted here Questions and Comments to edit in any questions or comments you might have. You can also add any main points of your journals you feel are relevant in the corresponding section within this page.

Extra Resources

effects of hands-on learning

File:Ideas for prior knowledge.docx

File:The Effectiveness of Hands-On Activities Compared to Paper and Pe.pdf This is an article for reading instead of science, but the points are still relevant if you wish to look more into the comparison betwen hands-on and more traditional strategies.