Short case study on applying FIRST-ADLX from Egypt

I am Mohamed Montasser from Cairo, Egypt. I am a pharmacy graduate and now I’m pursuing my career as an educator. I started my career with the Professional Educator Diploma at the AUC (American University in Cairo) for teaching Adolescent Learners and finished it in May 2017. In December 2016, I was privileged to experience an Active Deep Learner eXperience in SeGa Group through their community-learning program *Sawaed Group #27. Consequently, I started applying FIRST Framework in my classes as a physics teacher for grade 10. I wrote this case study to document the impact of applying FIRST Framework and its 15 principles in delivering a physics session about Electromagnetic Waves with 15 of my grade 10 students.

My learners had been introduced to types and characteristics of waves in quarter two. In quarter three, the students had to study the two types of waves: Mechanical Waves and Electromagnetic Waves. The previous chapter was about Mechanical Waves specifically sound waves. In this chapter students are required to learn Electromagnetic Waves, examples, characteristics, and uses. This case study covers the first lesson in this chapter: Electromagnetic Waves.

Electromagnetic Waves which can be referred to as light, are not only visible light with its colour ROYGBIV (stands for Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, and order of colours of the rainbow). It is like a spectrum of different waves that are determined according to the frequency and wavelength. Electromagnetic spectrum contains in an ascending order according to frequency: radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, UV rays, and gamma rays. Therefore, there are many details to be known and many concepts to be understood. FIRST Framework provided me with the behaviors and tools to deliver that much of information to my students.

The purpose of this case study is to provide a realistic detailed example for putting FIRST Framework into action. As well as, to provide my students with an Active Deep Learnerrrrrr eXperience that would deepen their understanding of such topic. Personally, at this stage, applying FIRST Framework was a start of practicing to be able to provide my students with the best educational eXperience. Honestly, this lesson was one of the best lessons I have ever designed and facilitated based on FIRST Framework. Still after more than one year I can recall it and its impact on my students

FIRST Framework contains 5 domains and 15 principles. In this case study, I used/implemented the F, I, and S domains. These three domains: Focusing on learner’s behaviors, Interacting within positive group dynamics, and Structuring and sequencing were very clear throughout the lesson. As well as the principles in these three domains: F containing trust the learner, I containing Social event, and S containing structuring & sequencing, and repetition without boredom. My main concern is the learner, so I designed my lesson to be learner-centric. My aim was to engage them by activities, yet make the experience deep. I let them use their mobile phones to get the information using a collaborative learning strategy which applied the I domain including its principle: social event. The students as shown in the picture were very engaged and were in a friendly environment. The S domain was important for such knowledgeable lesson with details. Getting that much of information in one chunk would be a cognitive overload for students to process. I always put in mind to deliver the information in different ways or using different activities for many reasons: repeating to memorize, and to target as much students as I put into consideration their different learning styles, multiple intelligence and processing abilities.

I structured the content of the lesson into multiple steps. In the beginning I revised the meaning, types, and shapes of waves. Afterwards, I started my Readiness, Introducing Electromagnetic waves. I wrote Light in the middle of a cloud shape and asked students to write their thoughts or any keywords about light then I started building on their information. I told them that light is a part of a broad spectrum of waves called Electromagnetic waves. Then I started to explain more about the characteristics, and shape of Electromagnetic waves. I divided the students into four groups and started telling them the instructions of the cooperative learning activity. Each group is assigned to gather information about a specific wave of the spectrum supported with some questions presented on the board by the projector. In the power point I told them they are going to use their mobile phones in this activity, they are asked to get information about different waves in the spectrum.

Then moving to the Activity Facilitation, I used cooperative learning, (Think pair share). The students started working on the questions. I moved around to make sure that they fully understand what was asked from them, and they are on the right track. I started asking them questions to help them searching for the information I asked for previously. Some teams were already organized, two members were searching for the required information, another member was writing the notes on the white sheet on the wall, and the last one was taking notes and preparing himself/herself to present the findings. Other teams were not so organized, so I helped them by suggesting to distribute the roles on them. I give a round of applause to motivate the students after each team is done presenting.

At last and to finalize this RAR (R: Readiness increase, A: Activity facilitation, R: Reviewing actively) I carried on with the active reviewing process since each team now has a strong background of a wave of the spectrum and a holistic idea about waves of the Electromagnetic spectrum. In the presentation, I started to repeat the information they have just searched for in a different way. I presented this information using visual aids and more details if needed. This step is very important, to make sure that the information stated during grouping is right, to target students with visual, linguistic intelligences, and to sum up the whole lesson. During this 5 to 10 minutes’ mini-presentation, I asked the students about this information and they can look on the wall and answer me instead of just pushing the information.

The information about the waves of the Electromagnetic spectrum is very detailed and might confuse learners when explained/delivered all at once. Therefore, I used the Repetition without boredom principle. First, I introduced the holistic view that the spectrum is divided into many waves according to different frequencies. Second, in groups, they are assigned to a specific wave to get information about it supported by prepared questions. Third, a representative from each group present the findings of his/her group to the rest of the students. Last, I summed up the whole lesson in details by asking them questions to pull from them the answers.

This session/lesson was one of the best I have ever designed and facilitated. Usually, teachers’ main challenge is classroom management. Most of the students are energetic physically and lack the motivation especially if the topic is not related to their life. In this lesson I tried to relate it in two situations: in the beginning when I asked them to brainstorm about “Light”, and when I asked them to get uses and if the assigned wave is harmful or not. Students especially in Egypt are very social and group-oriented. As an educator, I should use such thing into their own benefit when it comes to education. Putting in mind that students learn more effectively from peers rather than from a teacher.

During the lesson, the students were very engaged. They liked the idea of using their mobile phones in the class to get information. Moreover, group work has its own magic in class. Even those who are not usually into the learning process started having a role in the group to achieve something.

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