Reflection: Modeling Introduction to Connection Circles - Section 3: Explore


If you are finding this lesson to be a challenging entry points and have not completed the previous systems modeling lesson in this unit you might be scratching your head at this point and wondering if your students will be able to build meaning using this exercise. I recommend beginning with the systems lessons I have written and follow that progression. Having said that let’s talk a little bit about this lesson and reflect on modeling for a moment. If her book,  Thinking In Systems, Donella Meadows identifies what she calls three truths. Everything we think we know about the world as a model. Our models usually have a strong congruence with the world and our models fall short of representing the world fully.  

I find these three ideas to ring true as a science teacher. I attempt each day to help build my students capacity to make connections between the natural world in their own lives to the use of models. Whether that be through a lab video discussion thinking tool etc. my end goal is the same, to create something meaningful and tangible through a model in the classroom that promotes discussion and critical thinking amongst myself and my students.

 The structure of systems, all of the related accumulations and flows and feedbacks determine the behavior of the system. In this exercise students have to go back and forth between all the variables that change throughout the story and use critical thinking to make connections between each variable to tell the story of change over time. These events and their behavior provide the structure for the system as a whole. Using systems thinking models are useful tools for building students capacity to critically think and communicate their reasoning. It’s important to give them time to use the tools again and again and point out where their reasoning is correct and how they’re using the tools correctly, and then gently met nudge them towards making stronger and stronger connections deepening their reasoning skills.

  Critical Thinking Using Systems Tools
  Modeling: Critical Thinking Using Systems Tools
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Introduction to Connection Circles

Unit 4: Understanding Our Changing Climate: Impact on Oceans
Lesson 9 of 10

Objective: SWBAT define a problem, identify the variables that change over time, describe how the variables contribute to the problem and create a connection circle that connects the variables to the problem.

Big Idea: Students learn a simple protocol for identifying the relationships that exist in complex systems.

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Science, Climate Change, Systems Thinking/Systems Dynamics, Connection Circles
  50 minutes
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