Teaching for Conceptual Understandingby: Carrie Howren and Nam-Hwa Kang

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A series of lessons were taught in a second-grade classroom to assist students’ conceptual understanding of celestial motion. After assessing student misconceptions about space and the movement of planets and the Sun, the teacher engaged the students in role-playing, group work, and computer simulations. These teaching strategies were effective for enhancing students’ conceptual understanding.

  • Elementary
  • Middle
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Reviews (4)
  • on Wed Mar 09, 2016 6:39 AM

This article was very informative and simple to read. It explained a lot about how students learn, and the role that simulations and role playing having in the learning environment. I found myself taking note of the many benefits to this form of teaching. Although I am a teacher that loves to allow students to role play and use lots of great simulation websites in science, I don't think I recognized the extreme value of using this model.

Javaye Stubbs  (Flowery Branch, GA)
Javaye Stubbs (Flowery Branch, GA)

  • on Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:39 AM

I was very pleased with the quality of this resource. It includes an almost step by step walkthrough of the writers unit and review of actions that the writer took. This lesson can be tailored to fit most grade levels and can prove to be a useful source for starting any unit on the movement of planetary bodies. The writer also takes the time to point out the assessment and content standards relating to this topic so others may properly use it in their units.

Matt  (Columbia, Maryland)
Matt (Columbia, Maryland)

  • on Fri Sep 28, 2012 12:19 PM

One of the goals for conceptual understanding is to build on prior knowledge and experiences to broaden the student’s understanding. To do this you need to first identify what they already know and some of their misconceptions. In small groups students engaged in role playing about the Earth and the Sun. They looked at slides from NASA about the topic. Students then revisited their original ideas and evaluated their own learning. This is a good approach for elementary students.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:33 PM

The authors provide several ways of assessing what students know about the movement of objects in the sky through discussion and diagramming. The activity I found fascinating and used with both my middle school students and later a group of 4th and 5th graders, was the ”Space Slideshow.” The activity was easy to follow, and I made only minimal modifications for use with my middle school students. The biggest difference was my middle school students began to understand the difference between revolution and rotation, where the 4th and 5th graders became much more clear on how the Earth moves in relation to the Sun. The Solar System Simulator from NASA, http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/, was a wonderful resource once I played around with it a little to get what I wanted.

Sandra Gady  (Renton, WA)
Sandra Gady (Renton, WA)

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