Why can't we live on other planets? Who was the first "person" on earth? Why did the dinosaurs die? Why is the sky blue and does the color of the sky tell us the sky is healthy? What will happen when the sun dies? What causes one crystal to grow faster than another? Is there life on other planets? Do animals behave like humans? How are dolphins behavior and social issues similar to humans? Why are there 365 days in a year? How do speakers work?
Writing Class? And Science !
These are just some of the questions grade six, seven, and eight students wonder about and have found a way to answer their questions: Personal Persuasive Project. Mr. Johnson, our math and science teacher, and myself (Ms Edwards, language arts teacher) have joined our objectives into a project for students to learn science and practice reading and writing skills and strategies. Students choose a topic of interest to them. Their main task is: "Your task is to pursue an area of interest to you and to others to learn and understand the information and issues, and prepare a solution or recognition of the issue that persuades a leader outside of school to understand your solution or to recognize the issue." Check out the site to see the process and possibilites students envision and explore while pursuing their interests.
A Framework for Feedback and Flexibility
Through our Google Apps, Mr. Johnson and I are able to guide students in their ideas and progress, so even though the PPP website seems like a linear flow of student directions, it's really a framework that keeps us focused on science, reading, and writing. Student questions, research, and interests guide the direction students take in developing their project.
Student Process and Possibilities
Students monitor their learning process as they "think about thinking." They track their learning in forms they created, such as this one:
This form saves their summary or log of their work in a spreadsheet, which students review and evaluate their learning as well as share with their teachers:
Students have many options for taking notes. Here are a few examples:
Resources and References
How do they find the answers? Once students log in to their Google Apps, students open their Gooru Learning resources, which look like this:
Goorulearning.org is a site that brings in the best videos and texts on math and science objectives from Discovery, YouTube, StudyJams, Science Buddies, VisionLearning Skoool.ie, PBS Nova, etc. Students build their own personal collections (top box) on the topics they want to study.
We are so excited to have this resources added to our Google Apps for Education. Students can access all their work anywhere they have a computer connected to the Internet.
The classroom is noisy and active as students listen to videos and share with each other the science concepts they are discovering.
Goorulearning.org provides lessons and connections for teachers as well as students. By adding to collections, teachers also build a resource library for their instructional needs.
Teacher Dashboard is the teachers' management system to manage student work efficiently. All student work is automatically shared with teachers, and teachers see a "dashboard" of organized folders and student work. Our middle school staff love Teacher Dashboard by Hapara. It is so easy to monitor each student's work, choose one doc for feedback, and click it to access. Picture "iGoogle gadgets" as a class/subject set of student folders, and each folder/ gadget displays one student's documents organized by most recent. Hover over a doc to preview or click to access and provide feedback/ assess. Very nice. Just Google " Teacher Dashboard by Hapara and take a tour. They provide templates (spreadsheets) to create the organizational structure for our needs and then screen-share with to set up the system. It took less than an hour with great support. We are so appreciative of the convenience of this program; it helps us keep current on student feedback, which keeps our projects on time and interesting.
With our project presented in a Google Site ( Personal Persuasive Project ) from our Google Apps for Education, a fantastic resource for science (and math) in Goorulearning.org, and a management system through Teacher Dashboard by Hapara, we are soaring in science and roaring in reading and writing.
Check back again for updates on our projects.
I wonder what students think? In preparation for our student-parent-teacher conferences, one student wrote this:
The project motivates students to do more than just "write what I know;" they actually enjoy the research. It's a joy to watch them hover around a computer, sharing what they found.
Technology rocks because it provides us all with access to the latest information in many forms: images, text, videos. It helps us all learn in the ways that our minds understand, which brings us back to metacognition, or "thinking about thinking." The students are sharing their strategies and skills as well as their content. They help each other search and find, summarize and compare, synthesize and share.
What do you wonder? Our students know how to help you find your answer!
This is a school related site so please respect others and comment appropriately. Please contact Ms Edwards if you have any questions or need to report any inappropriate activity. Thank you. Reflect Curiosity and Wonder... Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness...