CSCS Principles

The coming connected classroom:

What can happen in a class like this?

We can get the technology, but how can it be utilized to improve learning?

CSCS Principles of Instruction

These general pedagogical principles utilize the connected classroom to promote learning.

1. Information is shared with the class online.

Teachers share as much information as possible documented in digital format for the entire class to see. This allows teachers and students to all have a shared understanding of what happened and what is happening next. Information includes, class information such as assignments, expectations and success, student work including brainstorming and conclusions, data from experiments or simulations. Some students’ grades and feedback should be kept private to protect students, but more general feedback can be public. This type of classroom sharing enhances the quality of student work by allowing them to see one another’s work within the context of the science lessons, investigations and activities and promotes a more cohesive classroom scientific community.

2. Teachers check on students’ understanding often.

Teachers use online polling, quickwrites and observations of students’ work in progress for formative assessment. Utilizing this technique, teachers can collect large student data sets across groups or classes and analyze them quickly and accurately. This type of formative assessment impacts all students rather than hearing from a handful of students who raise their hands during more traditional assessment approaches. As instructors analyze student data, they have an opportunity to adjust their instruction to meet student needs. In doing so, formative assessment helps teachers know which students are struggling and when the entire class needs to slow down or speed up (Herr & Rivas, 2014).

3. Data from experiments and simulations is pooled.

Teachers have students pool their research data in collaborative spreadsheets or other tools. Having students pool data allows them to see trends that are not visible to individual groups students can learn to identify outliers. Pooled data allows students to spot outliers and correct errors instantly rather than turning in flawed results (d'Alessio & Lundquist, 2013). Collaborative spreadsheets allow for easy pooling even. Students still work with their group data, but the pooling data across classes or schools allows them to see data in context and helps students compare analyses.

4. Data analysis is emphasized.

Many science teachers focus on the hands-on part of labs and shortchange the data analysis (Singer, Hilton & Schwiengruber, 2005). Part of the reason for this is that science teachers are often limited on the amount of time that they have to conduct science instruction and wind up running out of time to focus instruction on data analysis. Online data and analysis tools dramatically cut down the time necessary to collect investigation data and make the analysis easier and more conceptual rather than procedural (d'Alessio & Lundquist, 2013). Digital tools make it easy to produce graphs and explore trends the data as a community of science learners thereby increasing student interest and learning. Pooled data enables students to compare their analysis individually to others as well as collectively across investigations and data sets.

5. Students’ explanations are shared and compared.

Explanations are a central part of science and students need to be engaged in creating and critiquing explanations (Songer & Gotwals, 2012). They can be in written or spoken format, through drawings, animations so long as they are recorded so they can be archived and shared easily. Authentic science practice needs to include the community discussion of scientific explanations for the purpose of developing consensus. Scientific discourse is crucial to student learning and helping students understand the nature of science knowledge (Kelly, 2007). Collaboration tools allow students to share their explanations and get feedback on their ideas and writing. Shared conclusions allow for further discussion and the consensus building that is essential for inquiry (Berland & Reiser, 2009). Tools like Google Moderator allow students to think about the quality of different explanations and come to consensus as to the best one.