Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding Newton's Laws of Motion Simulation Investigation - Section 1: Engage


Gamification, or making a classroom environment run like a game, is trendy right now! For more on gamification, visit Game-Based Learning. To fully gamify a class is a highly creative but time-consuming endeavor. There are ways to capitalize on the high engagement level of gamification without fully committing to a complete instructional remodel. Simulations, especially online simulations, are a great bridge between your instruction and gamification. The key component in this strategic bridge is to find a way to make work feel more like play.

Online simulations are a stimulating way to helps students "live" a concept. When using online simulations like the University of Colorado PhET Simulations,  students actively participate in ways that help them make connections to prior knowledge, promote retention of concepts and explore concepts in ways that are difficult to replicate in a physical classroom. I cannot stress enough how much online simulations like the "PhET Sims" have changed my teaching. So often, I spend hours planning a great investigation or experiment only to be thwarted by disengagement, lack of supplies, safety concerns, inaccurate data collection, student absence, and more!

While I am not ready to move into a completely online world of instruction, these simulations - when used strategically for difficult concepts - make a huge difference to how I deliver instruction. Differentiation can be built in by providing multiple opportunities for students to explore a concept both on the remediation and extension ends of the spectrum. Student engagement is elevated through the use of technology. Data collection is more accurate and we can have better discussions while analyzing data; we've probably all had the experience where student-collected data doesn't actually support the conclusion it was supposed to! These are just a few of the reasons that I have integrated online simulations into every unit I teach.

  Online Simulations Changed My Teaching!
  Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Online Simulations Changed My Teaching!
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Newton's Laws of Motion Simulation Investigation

Unit 5: Forces and Motion
Lesson 16 of 18

Objective: SWBAT understand that the motion of objects depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.

Big Idea: Simulations provide experiences that are difficult to replicate in the lab and help students explore how forces change the motion of objects.

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