During August the Australia e-Series Community Connect Team focussed on what it means to be a Connected Educator. Our presenters talked about using Facebook, Twitter, Nings, Libraries, Podcasts and other means to connect with and learn from other people. The ideas and examples of contemporary pedagogy, shared in these discussions, had me thinking about science education and the use of authentic content.
The characteristics of animals and how they are use for classification is one area of study in Year 7 Science. For years my students and I used textbooks with glossy pictures of animals and plants in different environments around the globe. Now, with a slightly different way of doing things, glossy pictures can still be the focus of any classification task.
I love photography, have thousands of images and recently purchased a Pro Flickr account. Now they are available, under a Creative Commons license, for students to use for such topics. Here’s an image of a photo set I created to share (click on it to view the set).
One of the content descriptions in The Australian National Curriculum, Year 7 Science Understanding Strand is:
There are differences within and between groups of organisms; classification helps organise this diversity.
The elaborations are:
- grouping a variety of organisms on the basis of similarities and differences in particular features
- classifying using hierarchical systems such as kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species
- using scientific conventions for naming species
- using provided keys to identify organisms surveyed in a local habitat
What I’m thinking here is that students can “survey their local habitat”, take images and create a Flickr set to share with Australian students who live in different environments around the continent. They can use these images and gather data from this “secondary source” and chat about their findings by making comments, under their images on Flickr.
This ties in with the new National Curriculum in two more ways:
- Communicating is one of the Year 7 Science Inquiry Skills
- Literacy is a General Capability
- Information and Communication Technology is another General Capability
Other ways to communicate and gather data are to:
- tweet with a hashtag such as #scishare
- create a Facebook Page or Group
- write a series of blog posts
- connect globally, compare countries
So, what do you think? Are these examples of connected learning in the context of The Australian Curriculum?