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This paper includes a lesson about "Rutherford's Atom Model", which is prepared for 10th class students. This topic will be explained approximately in 45 minutes, in a lesson time.
The lesson is designed, based on Piaget's Theory, Information Processing Theory, Ausubel's Theory, Bruner's Theory, and Vygotsky's Theory. Learning is a complex process, so it is not possible to reach total learning with using only one teaching strategy. Therefore, while preparing this lesson, I benefit from different learning theories. The reason of why these theories are chosen and how it will be applied to the lesson will be explained with a detailed way. Before preparing the lesson, learning theories that will be used will be reviewed.
The Reason of Choosing These Theories
The Reason of Choosing Piaget's Theory
For Piaget's theory children acquire new knowledge with accommodation and assimilation of existing knowledge. For Piagetian perspective in learning process, cognitive conflict and disequilibrium is necessary. Because, by causing disequilibrium and creating cognitive conflict in students minds they become more willingly to learn the new knowledge to provide equilibrium again in their mind. So, it causes a change and they modify their existing knowledge. Piaget's theory emphasizes the importance of interaction which leads disequilibrium among peers (Gredler, 2005). According to Piaget's theory teacher encourages stimulate and support exploration and invention and recognize and what provides disequilibrium and curiosity for children and how to use it in an appropriate way. According to his theory social interactions are source of cognitive conflict, equilibrium, and development. For instance, class discussions can help to resolve conflicts and confusion. So in my lecture, I will form small groups among my students and after creating cognitive conflict or surprising them I will allow them to achieve equilibrium by discussion in a small group, solving problems in ways that make sense them and explaining answers (Gredler, 2005).
The Reason of Choosing Information Processing Theory
Information Processing Theory seeks to explain many concepts about memory and how the information processed and stored in memory. Elaborative rehearsal is an important factor for effective learning because it includes relating the new information with the old ones, for storing it into STM and transferring to LTM. According to IPT, to reach a relatively permanent state in long term memory, instructors should provide opportunities for students to elaborate on new information by connecting new information to something already known and showing similarities and differences among concepts (Gredler, 2005). Also retrieval is another important term for IPT. By the help of retrieval, previously learned information brought back to mind. So, when retrieval is applied, it provides permanence to information. If the new information is linked to the prior knowledge which is reached by the help of retrieval, the new information will be transferred to the long-term memory. By teaching some tactics such as practicing, analogy, visual images can increase encoding and retrieval to prevent forgetting (Driscoll, 2005).
So, in this lesson, I will benefit from relating the new information with the old ones in students mind. And I will try to bring back their previous knowledge from long term memory applying retrieval. And then, by the help of elaborative rehearsal, I will help students through linking new information with what already known. So, knowledge will be placed in the long-term memory of the students' minds and they reach a relatively permanent state in long term memory.
The Reason of Choosing Ausubel's Theory
According to Ausubel's theory, meaningful learning occurs when new information is linked to what have already known. Ausubel's theory suggests that existing cognitive is the principal factor influencing the learning and retention of meaningful material. Ausubel's theory also suggests subsumption theory which is similar with Piaget's Assimilation concept. Subsumption means putting any knowledge into a larger, more comprehensive existing knowledge category. In subsumption theory, Ausubel suggests that learning occurs when new information is linked to what have already known (Driscoll, 2005). Therefore, prior knowledge is the most significant factor to determine what new learning will occur. So, in this study I will benefit from this theory because I also believe that relating to existing knowledge and also linking with known concepts and new concepts will be helpful for students in learning process. So, I will activate learner's prior knowledge to make connection new incoming information.
According to Ausubel's point of view also using analogies, questions or examples about daily life as advance organizers could be useful for learning at the beginning of lesson. His advance organizer concepts refer to information that is presented before learning process for organizing and interpreting new information by the learner. Advance organizers can be anything that motivate the students and activate students' prior knowledge. For this topic I will get help from analogies as advance organizer. Because, I think analogies are the appropriate instructional tools to make learning meaningful by linking concepts each other.
In my lecture, as a teacher applying Ausubel's theory, I have a role of providing a brief introduction about the way that information is going to be presented and help students to make meaningful connections to existing knowledge.
The Reason of Choosing Bruner's Theory
Bruner suggest that learning occurs through discovery. While in Bruner's discovery learning process, learner rearrange given information, link with existing knowledge and discover end product (Driscoll, 2005). So, if students have the opportunity to discover relationships among concepts on their own they can learn through discovery process. According to the Bruner's point of view, experiment and researches can lead discover new knowledge. Discovery process also allows the conservation of memory, in that information learned by discovery will be remembered longer. It increases intellectual potency - the learner's ability to construct and organize what is encountered, to learn how to go about the task of learning (Schunk, 2008).. And it provides active engagement of the learner in the learning process. Therefore in my lesson, I will give a research problem about to working in a small group through the discovery process by exploring analyzing, interpreting and constructing their own knowledge in order to solve problem on their own. As a teacher I play a guide role during their own exploration when they trying to find a way to overcome existing problem.
Bruner's theory also gives importance feedbacks for instruction. Also like Bruner I think that rewards, punishments and feedback are important in learning process. They help students like a guide if they are made in a proper time properly. They increase the learner motivation to the lesson. So I will give students feedbacks to motivate and help them about the way they study. Also according to his theory, teachers should design activities that arouse students' curiosity. In my lecture, by asking questions 1 will make them become curious about the answer.
The Reason of Choosing Vygotsky's Theory
From the Vygotsky's point of view, learning is a social process and begins as social activities by interacting with other people and people internalize these processes and can use them independently. So, allowing the students interact with each other is a good way for students to learn in a social environment. Vygotsky's theory also offers encouragement and providing assistance in the form of scaffolding, in order to the student to attempt and solve the problem. According to Vygotsky, with the help of more knowledgeable partner the child can complete a task when he cannot do unassisted. This refers the zone of proximal development, the gap between what child can do individually and what child can do with assistance, is one of the most important terms of Vykotsky's theory (Gredler, 2005). So, applications of the theory in instructions should involve social interaction and a guided teacher or expert. In my lesson, I will provide opportunities for class discussion, and allow group work in order to help improve learning in a social environment for my students.
Moreover, according to Vygotskian perspective teacher is one of the required factors for teaching as they are more capable than students. So, in my lesson I will direct my students while scaffolding process and try to provide assistance about how they can achieve their goal even without the my assistance. As a Vygotskian teacher, I will try to provide the guidance required for my students to bridge the distance between their current skill level and a wanted skill level.
Explanation of the Topic and Link between the Topic and the Theories
At the beginning of the lesson, I will start with greeting my students and talk about their daily life. It takes about 5 minutes of the lecture. Then I will tell them that we will start the lesson. To activate their prior knowledge I will start with asking some questions about previous lesson's topic ( Ausubel's Theory/Ausubel's theory stress that meaningful learning relies on the learner interpreting new information in the context of what they already known.).
Firstly, I will ask my students previous lesson which atom model we had learnt? (Information Processing Theory/Retrieval/By the help of retrieval, previously learned information brought back to students' mind). I will try to take answer Thomson atom Model. Then, I will ask why we simulate Thomson's atom model with plum pudding. (Information Processing Theory/Retrieval).I will wait for a minute for their answer. If there is no appropriate answer I will direct to find correct explanations. During this process I will give feedbacks to motivate and help them about the way they study; for instance, for correct answers "nice", "good", and for inadequate answers "try to think another way". (Bruner's theory- Because Bruner's theory gives importance feedbacks for instruction). After student's answers I will tell them that do you know after Thomson's atom model, Rutherford, one of the Thomson's students, suggest a new atom model; while Thomson's atom model is like a plum pudding, Rutherford's atom model is like a tiny solar system. It takes about 5 minutes. ( Ausubel's theory/ advanced organizer/analogies/ Activating students prior knowledge is a most important process for meaningful learning to find a way to bridge between new knowledge(Rutherford atom model) and prior knowledge( Thomson atom model ). Advance organizers refer to information that is presented before learning process for organizing and interpreting new information by the learner. Advance organizers can be anything that motivate the students and activate students' prior knowledge. Because atomic structure is highly abstract, analogies which mean comparison with other more familiar context can be useful for making sense of the atomic model. In addition to this, according to Ausubel's theory, at the beginning of the lesson by the help of this analogy-Rutherford's atom model is like a tiny solar system-, the information will go from general to specific which will be learned through the process and result meaningful learning.)
Then, I will give a worksheet to my students about Rutherford's experimental set-up. (Bruner's iconic representation/ Bruner gives importance child's dominant mode of thinking (enactive, iconic, symbolic) as the basis for appropriateness. By the help of pictures (iconic representation) too abstract ideas can be understand concretely through the intellectual development of the students.)
If you were Rutherford; what would you expect to observe as a result of this experiment by taking the atomic theories and studies put forward into account?
Then, I will give information about alpha particles; alpha particles are actually helium 4 nuclei--clumps of two neutrons and two protons each and they are relatively massive compared with electrons, they were expected that they would simply suffer a series of small deflections. It was predicted to travel more or less straight through the absorber- and let them think and answer individually for this activity for 5 minutes. They will most probably answer me according to Thomson's Atom model. If they are so far from the real points, I will try to guide them to go real point.(5 minutes) (Piaget's theory/ equilibration process/most probably students' prior knowledge will not be enough to find the correct answer to the question. They will see the change and modification of their thoughts with the next activity).
I will tell them Rutherford was astonished at the result. At this point I will try to surprise my students by displaying actual experimental results with a video. (3-4 minutes) (http://www.mhhe.com/physsci/chemistry/essentialchemistry/flash/ruther14.swf)
(Piaget's theory/Suprising students/ Providing disequilibrium, surprising students by guiding how to use it in an appropriate way, students become more curios and willingly to solve their conflicts until provide equilibrium again and their knowledge will be more stable in their mind and the learning will be more effective). After showing this video I will again give them another worksheet.
If you were Rutherford after the actual results of this experiment how would you design your atom model? Explain your thoughts with the reasons.
By the help of actual experiment results, I will want them discover an atom model by discussing in a small group. If it is necessary I will give them some clues; for instance; "Positively charged objects and negatively charged objects attract each other. Same typed charged objects push away from each other" (Bruner's theory/ They will research, explore and analyze in order to construct their own knowledge to solve the problem by discovery process. According to Bruner's discovery learning while students sharing their opinions and discussing them, the teacher only give clues to the students to show them the way to the correct explanation.)
In the group work students will share their knowledge and experience. After group work, I will want draw their models in the board. And then the achieved results and students' atom models will be discuss at the class. All groups will explain their atomic model and reasons as Rutherford in the classroom. So, all groups will learn what the other groups learned or what they have reached at their activity. If they are so far from the real point I will direct students while their scaffolding process for developing new knowledge. (Vygotsky's theory/ Learning begin as social activities by interacting with other people and people internalize these processes and can use them independently. So, allowing the students interact with each other is a good way for students to learn in a social environment. By encouraging my students to group work and class discussion I will provide a social interaction environment to share their understandings with each other. According to Vygotsky's zone of proximal development process, with the help of more knowledgeable partner the child can complete a task when he cannot do unassisted. Also I will create an environment which some of my students can learn from more capable peers. According to Vygotskian perspective teacher is one of the required factors for teaching as they are more capable than students. For Vygotsky's theory, teacher direct students while scaffolding process and try to provide assistance about how the learner can achieve his goal even without the assistance).
After the discussion I will give scientific explanations about their atom models and make a conclusion with them about Rutherford's Atom Model. It will take about 15 minutes. (Bruner's Discovery Learning/After the students find correct answer, teacher's role is giving feedback and making a scientific explanation to the problem)
At the end of the lesson, while reminding at the beginning of lesson I will want students to think about what is mean that Rutherford's atomic model is like a tiny solar system as a summary of lesson. I will want them write similarities and differences between Rutherford's atom model and solar system. It will take about 5 minutes. (Information Processing Theory/ Students need to retrieve what they have learned before to compare two different situations) Some good suggestion I expected are;
Both the atom and the solar system have centers that attract the surrounding planets or electrons.
Both have forces involved.
They both rotate around a centre point.
Planets have no charge but electrons are negatively charged
Planets can be seen with the naked eye, electrons can't
Lastly , I will make a brief summary what we have learned today in the lecture by comparing Thomson's atom model with Rutherford's atom model by the help of my students. It will take about 5 minutes. (IPT/ Elaborative Rehearsal/ I will provide opportunities for students to elaborate on new information by connecting new information to something already known and showing similarities and differences among concepts ) Lastly, I want them to investigate this question in a small group as a homework until the next lesson; " Why negatively charged electrons do not drop into positively charged protons in nucleus? (Bruner's theory/ They will become curious and start to research, explore and analyze in order to construct their own knowledge to solve the problem by discovery process)