Moving Beyond the Science Kit:
Explorations of Electricity and Atoms
In this article it explains the difference of two teacher's way of instruction while teaching electricity, and how much the actual instruction makes a huge difference on how the students learn.
Ms. Stone was able to receive several electricity kits from a commercial manufacture and she begins preparing her lesson the night before by putting together the kit at home. Then at school the next day she has the students work in groups of 4 to complete the lesson by following directions as Ms. Stone directed them at the front of the classroom.
By doing it this way Ms. Stone had the students working together, but unfortunately they are only able to do the steps individually and they seemed to become bored quickly because they were sitting there waiting quite a bit of the time. Ms. Stone then would reference the definitions she has written on the board, and she believed that the lesson was successful when the groups of students were able to get the light bulbs to light up. Bu this doesn't mean that the students actually learned anything. They just followed the directions given, but they weren't able to question the lesson or the ideas or anything that would lead them into questioning more about the subject.
Ms. Travis is also working with the same several electricity kits from a commercial manufacture, but instead of following the directions exactly, she took the lesson into her own hands and made a new creative lesson. She started with the students talking about electricity to find out what the students know about the topic, and then she had them take apart flashlights in order for them to figure out some questions and ideas by themselves.
I believe that Ms. Travis had the better idea about teaching this lesson, and I would do something similar to this if I was teaching the lesson. I think having the students take apart something themselves and ask questions is the best way for the students to learn and understand the topic. They are able to use their own personal experiences to lead their ideas about electricity, and this will keep them more engaged in the topic. I hope this will keep the learned lesson in their memory a lot longer than if they would have just read and followed the directions given to just make a light bulb light up.