Global Educators Cohort Program - Teacher Education

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Transcript of four elementary pre-service teachers discussing modeling and simulation software.

From Schwarz, Meyer, & Sharma, IJSE (2007)

Classroom session (12/2/02) transcript:
(A) GROUP DISCUSSING ARCHIMEDES AND BEYOND SOFTWARE. THE SOFTWARE IS ON THE COMPUTER SCREEN.
WS = The student in white sweater.
LH = The student with long hair.
OS = The other student (not visible)
OS2 = The second other student (not visible)

1st Dialogue:
WS (pointing at the screen): You can see how ( ) that one is from that one.
LH: And then you can kind of just play around with it. There it goes .. and then you can change the .. total .. ( )
OS: Do you know what grade level this is?
LH: I say .. middle school .. five or six.
OS: Really? You think so?
WS: Well, you can do this with younger ..
LH: This is just the beginning. .. Yeah.
WS: This is the easiest. (laughs) It gets really hard with the different (levels). Like we had a difficult time.
OS: (Is the entire program like this?)
WS: Well, actually, we are thinking of using this program with second to third graders .. maybe even the first year.
LH: Its very cute, it is very basic.
WS: Actually, it is kind of fun like ..(You can play around with it) ..
LH: .. and then you can change.
OS: Like the one you did just two clicks ago. There was a box that had a greater area, but both (boxes) had the same number of dots .. so was that just to show that the area is bigger and ..
LH: Yeah, and then you just ask like, you know, is it possible to have the smaller area but the same number of dots.
OS: So the dots aren’t representing area as like .. the number area.
LH: No. The dots and the area are completely (separated), they are ( ).
OS: OK, then what about the density?
WS: The whole thing about density is that (there isn’t). Further you go, you get into volume and then density, and then …
LH: (Pointing to the bottom of the screen) Like, look at the bottom. It is kind of like ( ).
OS: (Well, I want to talk about the question about ..
WS: Sure.
OS: The question about the two events ( ), .. well, this is silly because it is not about ..
OS2: Doesn’t it tell you in the data?
WS: Yeah ..
LH: ( )
OS: I guess it would be more effective, I guess, if there was a question like which one is more dense because, well, you have the area ..
LH: Well, you are supposed to come to it, and say which one is less ( ) and which one is …
2nd dialogue:
OS: So this is I guess starting ..
LH: Yeah, they don’t ever mention density, and ( ).
OS: So how would you relate all this to children’s (everyday lives)?
WS: Well, you know if you are in a crowded room. I mean, how crowded it is in the room, and ..
LH: ( ) (laughing says something to OS)
WS: Oh no, like you can be in a living room versus a room like this with same amount of people, then which one is more crowded? .. It is something like that. .. And it is depended upon how many people and the size of the room. (Pointing to a box picture on the screen) So it is depended upon the size of the box.
--
3rd dialogue:
WS: One bad thing is that the screen is so small. She said (pointing to LH) in her computer it isn’t big, and in mine too it is neither. And the print is very small. Now in this one you have to actually create your event (pointing to the screen currently open). (Reading from the screen) Make your event such that it is more crowded than the one given below.
LH: So you have to set it up.
WS: Yes.
OS: Before you do these things, are you supposed to make a list of instructions, like how do you do the software, or are you going to go let them figure it out all for themselves?
LH: Well ..
OS: (I ask because) I worked with this software for probably like 7 minutes and then was fed up, like what is going on, what are you supposed to ( )..
LH: ( )
OS2: I think maybe since it is so much older so it is harder to .. because we are expecting to use mouse, and here you have to do this, and you need to go here, and ..
WS: That is one .. the good thing though is that it takes longer to get through it, you have to ( ) or go back. I really learned from the ( ). But for small kids - that have only few buttons to push and they can get through it. .. Yeah, we definitely would use the instructions. I wrote .. not in the lesson plan, but in the other thing that if we did decide to do it, one thing I would ask the other teacher .. the other person in the room, or even possibly doing half of the class at one time, with the other teacher just watching the other half of the class, if that is possible. And, you know, try to display it upfront, and then just play around with it.
LH: We would have to do that explaining bit, or else ..
OS: One thing that I liked about this that I didn’t like about ours is about what’s going on, because in ours, like you can demonstrate it, click on it and it would do whatever you would like and ..
OS2: You can run the simulation a million times ..
OS: But you don’t understand why it is happening or whatever ..
WS: We thought it was the best, I mean ..
LH: Other (software) are very ( ).
OS: Okay.
LH: Anyway ..
OS: Do you guys wanna go .. it is up to you.
OS2: I really don’t have the time.
OS: Okay.

(B) GROUP DISCUSSING MODEL-IT SOFTWARE. THE SOFTWARE IS ON THE COMPUTER SCREEN.
S1: Student in brown sweater doing the explaining.
S2: The other student doing the explaining.
OS: The student who is asking questions and is not visible in the recording.
OS2: The second student who is asking questions and is not visible in the recording.

1st dialogue:
OS: So are you really seeing a correlation here, or are you just .. It seems you need a .. you have all the knowledge right now and you are just ..
S2: This is something that you can really use only when you know what’s going to happen. You have to know what’s going to happen, or you can get a backwards relationship because (pointing to the computer screen) we could have done the relationship as level of river directly against the amount of rain. But we all know this .. (that’s why we didn’t do it).
OS: So are you using this to record your data maybe, like is this ..
S2: Not really record data but simulate data faster than outside.
S1: You could do that or you know one thing I talked about with ( ) is for the teacher to put in all the information and have students to .. see .. make hypothesis about the relationships, like what they think the relationship would be and then test it and see if they are right. .. Otherwise, they can make their own, if they are at a higher level, make relationships and other kids can see if they are right or not.
OS2: So are you finished with it; you are still going to test it?
S2: Yeah .. there is still more.
S1: We will test it when we are done.
--
2nd dialogue:
S2: We did the factory one. We did two different ones. We did one about how pollution can lead to factories being shut down, which can lead to loss of jobs. So we had two graphs going. So when we increased pollution, factories went less and jobs went less.
S1: There can be as many variables as you can get in a relationships.
OS2: I guess I just see the software as being more of helping students to like understand and read graphs, like more than anything else ..
S1: Yeah, I see it that (way) too.
OS2: Well, it is really not telling you anything new. Obviously, you say it right there that like, you know, rainfall is directly to .. whatever ..
S1:It .. it is just a model.
OS2: Right!
S1: This is exactly what it is.
S2: It is just a model.
S1: It is creating a .. modeling a relationship.
OS: Oh! I thought it would rain the water level would ..
S2: (laughs) No. This is all it can do.
OS: ( )
S1: You wouldn’t ..
S2: You wouldn’t have that opportunity.
OS: ( )
S2: The pictures at the bottom (pointing to the screen). You have only so many that you can choose. When you are picking a (unit), it gives you certain things and you can pick only those pictures.
S1: You can do anything. You can’t just .. you don’t necessarily have a picture icon for it.
S2 and OS: Right.
S1: You can type in and ..
S2: Because when it says (new object), we have typed things like that weren’t just possible before. You can type in something and it will just say ‘new object’. It won’t have a cute little picture.
OS: ( )
S2: Yeah, you could. But it just would won’t make sense. .. That’s one of the problems with this program.
S1: (pointing to the computer screen) This isn’t going to tell you if you are right or wrong.
OS2: Aren’t we setting it up with what you are saying - as this increases ( ) increases and ( ) for you, right?
S1: Basically, yeah. Basically that’s all it is.
OS: So, like you would have to have the knowledge.
S2: Yeah. One thing I thought it would be useful for was is that like at the end of the unit, like you could have students look at it, and make the causal relationships. And if they don’t make it right, they are not going to get the right type of graph.
S1: But they would really have to understand how all that ties into in terms of the graph.
OS: So what you are saying is that you would set it up for them. Then it would be beneficial. Yeah.
S1: Yeah.
S2: Yeah. Because then you can use it for younger kids. But if you are going to use it for older kids, they can do it on their own, but they have to have it at the end of their unit when they have really gone in depth and know what they are supposed to come out with.
OS2: Yeah, because you really want …
S2: Because it is kind of fun .. but .. I mean we have to come up with all that stuff. But you really have to know what you are going to do because we had to drop a few ideas because, oh, we do not really know what it is going to turn out into (because we do not know who was right.)
OS2: Otherwise, if we left it to the students they are going to come up with all the different answers .. which isn’t necessarily bad, but then .. maybe you should just focus on – we really don’t care what your answers are but focus more on the graphs, what would the graphs look like if ..
S1: There are lots of different types of things you could do. You could do things like assessments, and have them build the relationships that you want them .. things they should know, and see if they get it right in the graphs. Do that and ..
S2: You know this stuff is really easy, like everybody should know that if you get rainfall, your water level is going to rise. And it would be somewhere around the same, sometimes it would be less depending on, you know, condition of the river and other stuff that’s going on. But, pretty much (OK ), and that’s why we picked this. This was the first thing we did because like we know what’s it going to be. .. So it is a good way to learn.
OS2: Yeah, I think it is good .. the arrow, and even though you know that rain is directly related to the river, you know, and the independent and dependent variables .. I always hated those .. it is very abstract.
S2: Yeah.
OS2: It is so easy if someone just explained it to you. ( )
S2: (pointing to the screen). But you can see here that this is independent.
OS2: Well, I think it would have been better if it rained and you could measure the rainfall and see if you are right.
S2: Yeah, this is just a model…You can use it as a base.

(C) GROUP DISCUSSING THINKER-TOOLS SOFTWARE. THE SOFTWARE IS ON THE COMPUTER SCREEN.
S1: Student with long black hair doing the explaining.
S2: Student with blond hair doing the explaining.
OS1: One of the two students who is being explained to and is asking questions.
OS2: Second student who is being explained to and asking questions.

1st dialogue:
S1: It takes a while to set up so we are thinking that maybe we should set it up before (the class), and then just have them run experiments.
OS1: And then they can manipulate the variables.
S1: Right.
OS2: There are just so many variables, so like I would get confused as to .. you know, what I set up.
S1: Yeah, I know. In our lesson we have everything is such that first is gravity and then friction and so on. Everything is specific.
OS2: Yeah, unless they get really comfortable, they can’t really do it themselves.
S1: (pointing to the screen) So see that one follows much faster. ( )
OS1: That’s not very realistic.
S2: Yeah, it really is .. yeah, like .. (laughs as computer software simulates a bouncing ball on the screen). What do you think is not very realistic?
OS1: Its is just .. that the red one moves just so slow.
S2: But it is a four, and the other one is four .. so I think it is a lot lighter.
OS1: But I think it is the way you change the units, like 1 and 2.
S1: You have to find one of them.
S2: You want me to do that? (S2 is on the computer working the software).
S2: Change of ( ).
OS2: I would love it.
OS1: Do it.
(S2 working on the computer and everyone else watches her).
S2: Would that be realistic for you?
OS1: Yes.
(All hear a sound along with simulation of ball bouncing on the screen)
OS1: Sounds like a gun shot.
S2: What we like about the bouncy one is that is that you can see, like ..
OS1: Yeah, you can see on the top and the bottom.
S2: You can see the equal and opposite reaction. You can see that when it hits, it goes to 4, then it will go back up to 4, and then maybe it will drop to 3 in the next bounce, it will then go up to 3.
OS2: Yeah, that’s really nice.
S1: And when there is no air resistance, it just keeps going back and forth.
OS2: So I think it is really nice.
S2: Yeah, it’s really a simple looking program. ( )
OS1: ( ) (it looks like one of those fun things where you draw and all.)
S1: Yeah. That’s what I thought when you first said that.
OS1: That’s what I couldn’t figure out.
OS2: (laughs) because it does look like paintbrush though.
S1: Just start putting balls all over the place. (laughs).
--
2nd dialogue:
OS2: So this is something that you first do the experiment in class first and then do this because you can change the variables all the time, (or you don’t have the timer and just have to do it all the time.) ( )
S2: When you do these things like .. OK, remember how sister .. or whatever her name is – she was having kids like push things like if it slows down. .. But they couldn’t really see it .. Like it wasn’t just doing anything as far as you could tell. If you were to drop a small, .. like a ball the same size but one with greater mass than the other. It happens so fast that kids can’t really see what’s (going on).
OS1: Unless you can repeat it over and over again.
S1: Also when you repeat it with a real thing, it is not always consistent. (pointing to the computer) You know, not like this where it is always the same.
OS1: (in a hushed voice) So I think we should really play around with it.
S1: (laughs) Yeah. .. Or even if the teacher had maybe a projector so instead of letting all the kids do it all together ..
OS1: It might be nice to start out with the teacher doing it over a projector. Or if you had a lab like this, and the teacher could take over all the computers, like you have in some of the labs, you know, kids can then sit there and watch the teacher manipulate everything and do everything, and then do it on their own.
S2: See, that’s what we are going to do too. Maybe have it on overhead or something where teacher can run through it. ( ).
(Christina announces that the groups only have about 3 minutes to wrap up their discussions, after which there would be a whole class discussion.)
Christina to the group: Are you close to finishing it?
S2: Yeah, yeah.
S2: (probably talking about the instructor) Well, she was saying that sometimes it is good for students like to just try out and figure it out for themselves. But I was saying why even we had hard enough time ..
S1: I think she meant the teachers. You know teachers going over the softwares for like ..
OS2: Oh, she meant that?
S1: Yeah.
OS1: Well, the teachers. It is OK for letting the teachers figure it out themselves, have some basic constructions so that they know what the class should be doing.
S1: (But the class shouldn’t waste too much time.)
OS1: Yeah.