Saturday, October 26, 2019

Moving the science curriculum ahead

Students took part in their first hands-on science explorations related to the water cycle and watersheds. Overall they were engaged, but in some ways teamwork and following directions were difficult. That was to be expected in the initial grade-level explorations.

They also had the opportunity to learn about rivers in general as a group and work with a naturalist coach to study the interdependence of organisms in the ecosystem. Listening presented a challenge for some, but in general, the main points of the lesson were relayed.

And, they had a chance to show what they know via writing and creating diagrams--that required some hard work for some who were reluctant to explain what they learned. With coaching and review of their work, we helped every child move ahead with this learning.

In the next few weeks, we'll provide many opportunities for children to learn science in hands-on, collaborative ways and to show what they know via lab reports and writing and drawing about deeper thinking questions and creative opportunities.

As I think about growing this learning in meaningful ways, I am thinking about the following points:
  • Continued emphasis on teamwork--what makes a good team and how does a successful team work and act? Ideo's shopping cart video is a good example of positive teamwork. I will find time to show that. 
  • Prior to the video, I'll focus on the STEAM steps, and I'll ask students to notice not only how the team works together, but how they employ those STEAM steps in their design as well.
  • The next day we'll engage in the water filter design project. The activity has a number of check-in points that ensure that students pay attention to each task. Students will begin the task on their own by watching a number of short videos and reading information on the project website. Then we'll review the project together and teams will get started. We have plenty of time to do the task. I'll watch carefully to see what's working and what can be better.
  • The following week we'll work on the solar oven and plant packet explorations--using a similar format as the water filters. Again, I'll observe carefully about what's working and what could be better. Not only will I learn about the effectiveness of this curriculum, but I'll also learn more about what helps this particular group of students persevere, work together, and learn in effective ways. 
  • I'll apply what I learn as I work with colleagues to prepare for the projects after that including a field study in a local conservation area, physical science explorations of matter and phase changes, climate change introduction, and climate change projects. 
The goal here is to energize and engage students while also developing their ability to explore, investigate, work together, and learn science in meaningful and memorable ways.