Contextual Teaching
& Learning
Linda Hatcher
Contextual
Science
How are the culinary and science
professions alike?
Research Content Background
Materials State Standards
Procedures/Activities
Assessment
Bibliography
Biography
Research
As we learn
more about how students think and learn, we also need an ongoing
study of ways to motivate them to continue to learn, because lifelong
learning will be even more important in a continually evolving
technological society. Contextual learning is the best framework
for providing a more effective, satisfying education for all students
(Parnell, 1995). To keep students learning, we must draw from
their interests and personal experiences and demonstrate the connections
between what they need to learn and how that learning will be
used in the real world.
Science
lends itself well for conceptual teaching practices because the
laboratory setting is an excellent place to use many of the methods
we have been discussing. The traditional "sit and listen"
approach to teaching might well be called the "freezer method"
of education (Parnell, 2001). The hands on activities carried
out in the lab are definitely not the sit and listen approach
used by too many educators today. The military has found that
slow learners require two to five times as much individual instructional
time as fast learners. It has also found that slow learners learn
best when they apply information as they learn it (Parnell, 2001).
This application can and does take place in the lab.
Most science
teachers normally will assign a variety of projects to be completed
throughout the school year. Projects should closely resemble the
kinds of "authentic" accomplishments achieved by adults
in the "real world" (Blank, 2001). Real life is all
about getting projects completed successfullywhether in the workplace,
in the home, or the community.
Whether
students are working in the laboratory, at home, or in groups
they learn from each other, building understanding and tolerance
of differences and at the same time learning to value the diversity
(Blank, 2001). One of the best ways for students to learn is to
be able to connect their learning to prior knowledge and experiences.
Connections are what students desperately require surviving and
succeeding in our highspeed, highchallenge, rapidly changing
society (Parnell, 1995).
Students
in most schools and colleges go from subject to subject, from
grade to grade, and from school to school with little sense of
continuity or connection (Parnell, 1995). Most students have little
sense that one class builds on another or that their education
is preparing them for real life situations (Parnell, 2001). Teachers
should integrate the subjects so that students can see the connection.
Schools are the only place where subjects are separated. In the
real world all areas are definitely integrated.
Everyone asks the question: where
is education headed? Teachers, administrators, and educational
leaders across the nation are beginning to catch the contextual
learning vision and to turn education in this country right side
up (Parnell, 1995).
Content
* You will learn to make
measurements using the metric system.
* These measurements will
encompass mastering the metric ruler, triple beam balance, and
the graduated cylinder.
* You will demonstrate your
ability to convert the original measurements to lower and higher
values by moving the decimal point the correct number of places
in the proper direction.
Materials
Laser Player & Television
Laser Disc Volume 1
Data sheet airplane checklist
8 1/2 x 11" white paper (two for each student) stapler
clear tape masking tape paper
clips pencil or pen
Meter sticks (one for each pair of
students) student handout
1/2 C flour salt
baking soda 1stick butter
brown sugar white sugar
vanilla extracts 1 egg
1 package chocolate morsels
State Standards
QCC 8.3 Defines and identifies standards
of measurement.
* 3.1 Names the prefixes used
in the SI system.
* 3.2 Identifies the SI units
and symbols for length, volume, mass, density, time, and temperature.
* 3.3 Converts measurements
among related SI units.
* 3.4 Uses appropriate tools
for determining mass, volume, temperature, density, and length.
QCC 8.4 Selects and uses multiple
types of print and nonprint sources for information on science
concepts.
Procedures/Activities
Day One/Introduction with the Laser
Disc Player
Why do we need a measurement system?
When experiments are performed there
are almost always some observations where questions like "how
fast", "how far", or "how much" must
be answered. The only way to answer these questions is through
measuring.
What is a standard?
A "standard" is something
that is used as a comparison for measuring. It must never vary
and be available to all.
What system of measurement is used
today in the United States?
The system of measurement used in
the United States is the English system. (Foot, inch, pound, etc.)
Why is it difficult to have more
than one system of measurement in the world?
It is difficult to have more than
one system of measurement because we communicate worldwide.
What is the International System
of Measurement?
Metric system
Why do we find it difficult to use
the metric system?
We are not used to using this system.
Day Two/Class Discussion on Metric Units
Before class, access the Web site
and print out (and copy) the math problems (English system vs.
metric) found there. Keep this ready to hand out or copy to the
board. Begin a discussion of measurement by writing several units
of measure on the board in 2 columns, one for metric, one for
English. Ask students which units they would rather use. (Generally,
they will prefer English, foot, pound, etc.) Now produce the math
problems form the Web site and test to see which system is simpler
to use. Explain to students that they will be researching this
system and filling out a question attachment as they go. Handout
the URL guide and the student attachment and ask if there are
answers they already know. Direct students to begin research.
If possible, save the URL guide to a disk so students can access
the sites directly. (If computers with Internet connections are
limited, the students can work in teams. If Internet is unavailable,
the main Web sites can be accessed and printed elsewhere and copied
ahead of time for the class.) In closing, ask students to compare
these systems. What recommendations would the students make if
they were part of a commission to study permanent adoption of
either system? Why?
Day Three/ Why Decimal?
Question: Which column would you
rather add?
Inchpound units
Metric units
1 yard, 2 feet, 31/4 inches
1.607 meters
1 foot, 113/16 inches
0.589 meters
2 feet, 51/2 inches
0.749 meters
3 yards, 1 foot, 65/8 inches
3.216 meters
====================
===========
? yards ? feet ? inches ?
meters
Hint: The two sums are the same.
Answer: 6 yards, 2 feet, 29/16 inches;
or 6.161 meters
Why Decimal?
A room measures 15 ft. 33/4 in.
by 21 ft. 71/2 in. (4.667 m by 6.591 m).
Questions:
What is its floor area in square
yards? 36.79 sq. yd.
What is its floor area in square
meters? 30.76 m2
Why Decimal?
In designing a calendar you wish
to divide an area of 71/4 in. by 11 in. (184 mm by 279 mm) into
35 rectangles; that is you wish to divide 71/4 in. by 5 and to
divide 11 in. by 7.
Questions:
What are the dimensions of each rectangle
in inches?
What are the dimensions of each rectangle
in millimeters?
Answers:
129/64 in. by 137/64 in., or 36.8
mm by 39.9 mm
Day Four/Cookie Baking
Explain to students that this lesson
will put measurement skills to use and may prove delicious! Handout
the student recipe "Mmm, Mmm, Metric." This provides
the Chocolate Chip cookie recipe with both units of measurement
listed, and the recipe for chocolate chip cookies, with the ingredient
list given in metric units. Direct students to convert the measurements
given from one system to the other, using the reference handout
and the web site. If computers with Internet are not available
or if simpler, access the Web site ahead of time and print and
copy the information found there. A place for chefs! A metric
conversion chart (ml to g and oz to g, plus more) and an online
temperature converter make life much easier for the cook. The
next day, return student recipe conversions and review the measurements.
If possible, have students actually use the recipe to mix and
bake the cookies. Alternatively, they can take the corrected recipe
home and complete it for homework.
Day Five /Measurement Lab
This measurement lab requires advance
set up of several tables containing various measuring tools as
well as direction and completion sheets for students.
Explain to students that in this
lab they will be using various forms of measurement. Ask them
to guess the measure of various items and spaces in the classroom.
Begin with an example such as the science text, using pounds as
the unit of measure. Following several guesses, explain that,
were in just about any other country, they would not be using
English measure but metric. Repeat the guesses, this time in metric
measure.
Divide students in teams of 4 or
so and handout the student attachment. Direct them to begin rotating
from one measurement center or table to the next, completing the
necessary measurements and filling in the data as they go.
Day Six/Airplane Lab
1. Review science process skills
with class. Information that should be included in this review
is attached. Teacher may use it as a guide or as a handout for
students.
2. Explain that students will be
making two paper airplanes to fly in the hall outside the classroom
or in the gym. One called the "basic" we will make together
as a class activity. Be sure to point out this plane is the control.
The second plane, which they will make on their own and name whatever
they want, will be made the same way but they can make modifications
(paper clips, staples, flaps). Explain that the modifications
will be the manipulated variable. Hand out two Data Sheets (attached)
to each student. Explain that they will record the results of
each "flight" on these sheets. They are allowed five
and only five throws of each plane.
3. Teacher will hand out the checklist
(attached) and go over it with the students. Be very clear that
this is how they will know exactly what is and is not an acceptable
plane.
4. Teacher will pass out two sheets
of white 8.5x11" paper to each student. Demonstrate step
by step how to make the basic plane (see Web page for directions).
Teacher should monitor the class and work with students individually
to help each student make the plane correctly.
5. Repeat the "basic" steps
for the second plane. When students are finished, pass out staplers,
paper clips, tape, and scissors. These are used to make whatever
modifications students want. It is helpful for the teacher to
model cutting flaps or taping the nose of the plane to give students
ideas on how to modify the plane. Be sure the students know they
can modify only the second plane. At this time have students consider
both planes' physical characteristics at desks and form their
hypothesis, which should be written in space provided on Data
Sheet.
6. Review measuring distances using
meters and centimeters. Ask students to practice measuring distances
in the room (width of table, length of board) using the meter
stick.
7. This step may be done in the hall
or school gym. It is helpful to premeasure distances using masking
tape. Place start tape on floor and mark off every 3 meters stopping
at the 15 meter mark. Select pairs of students to measure and
throw planes together. Give each pair one meter stick. Working
together helps keep them honest. Monitor and demonstrate how to
measure the flight with each pair.
8. When students have finished "flights"
of planes, have them write their conclusions on the space provided
on data sheet. They should also take this time to calculate averages
of each plane and show work on data sheet.
9. Teacher should lead students through
the process of using Power Point and creating a graph of the results
of their "flights." Students should use the guidelines
stated in the rubric to complete graph. See attached Web site
for guidelines and instructions on using PowerPoint if needed.
Day Seven/Continue with Airplane Lab
Day Eight/AssessmentRubric
Bibliography
1. Blank, William E. and
Sandra H. Harwell (2001). Promising Practices. Waco, Texas: CCI
Publishing. ISBN 157837278x.
2. Parnell, Dale (1995).
Why Do I have to Learn This? Waco, Texas: CORD Communications,
Inc. ISBN 1555025196.
3. Parnell, Dale (2001).
Contextual Teaching Works! Waco, Texas: CCI Publishing. ISBN 157837278.
Biography
Linda Hatcher is a twentythird year
earth science and biology teacher in Bartow County, Georgia. She
taught twentytwo years in Polk County, Georgia before moving
to Bartow County in 2002.
