Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding Day 1-Food Chains...Moving Matter in an Ecosystem - Section 3: Explain


Instructional Strategy-Computer Simulations

Incorporating technology is a great way to enhance any lesson. It can help students develop a deeper understand of scientific wonders and explore theories in a virtual way. One way I use technology to support my students learning is through computer simulations. I find it is an effective instructional strategy that gives students a chance to observe models and phenomena, actively learn complex concepts, and explore ideas and theories. It makes the abstract become concrete. Students can observe real world experiences that may seem impractical or unrealistic. They can apply what they already know and understand to new situations. This strategy keeps students interest and attention as it is often student directed. They can learn at their own pace, review if they need to or challenge their thinking. Computer simulations are a great tool to improve teacher instruction and students learning. Many inquiry skills are applied and practiced during this kind of learning experience. These include predicting, analyzing, interpreting, graphing, creating and using models, and even writing. It is a chance for students to transfer their learning into new situations and experiences by making decisions without worrying about taking a risk or exposure to danger. They experience authentic situations and get immediate feedback, which encourages them to review, try again, and be motivated to find out why.

I decided to use computer simulation as part of the Food Chain lesson because I wanted my students do more than just define a food chain, I wanted them to see multiple ways energy is transferred from one organism to another. It provided them different opportunities to develop their understanding of this concept starting them off with building simple examples, then getting them to create more complex ones. This stair-casing supported a variety of learners because students could work at their own pace in developing their understanding. The models they created were animated which kept their attention and interest as they worked their way through each exercise. They had opportunity to review at a click of a button and move on to finding out what happens when one piece of a food chain is removed. These different experiences on the computer helped them better understand the relationship between organisms and the effects if an organism is no longer available. It is an abstract idea made concrete with the different models they created throughout the lesson.  I really found this instructional strategy very effective. They were able to apply their understanding by creating models on their own which will help them in the next lesson when they take a food chain and turn it into a food web. 

  Instructional Strategy-Using Computer Simulations
  Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Instructional Strategy-Using Computer Simulations
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Day 1-Food Chains...Moving Matter in an Ecosystem

Unit 3: Ecosystems and Interactions
Lesson 18 of 19

Objective: SWBAT define food chain and describe how energy in animals food was once energy from the sun.

Big Idea: Students will create a food chain model and use it to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.

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20 teachers like this lesson
Energy (Physical Science), Science, food chain, Ecosystems, interaction
  65 minutes
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