Working with students in an inquiry-based setting is amazing. One of my teachers and I are doing a great “hands-on digital” project that has given them (and me!) the opportunity to make deep connections between atoms, molecules and their structure. Vonnie let them choose a molecule randomly and I taught them how to research, paraphrase and create citations. Today, they got the chance to build their molecules by hand and take 30-50 stop-action images from above, around, below and any angle imaginable. I have never been a scientist, but I have learned more science in the past three days than in all of my life by building and digitizing my creation. Thanks, Vonnie. This “tuesdays” is dedicated to teachers who LOVE to pass the gift of curiosity, exploration and reasoning on to their students and share with others.
A creative website
This is probably going to sound strange that I chose Facebook as my creative website of the week, but I got more suggestions from teachers in FB than email, blogs and other websites. About three weeks ago, I posted this: "Need some help for my science teachers. Does anyone know how to create digital 3D models of molecules that high school students could make?" What fun. I got lots of comments and great ideas. Thanks to Rick and Glen because I combined their ideas for our project. “Hands-on digital” is a phrase that Patti coined for us and a great way to describe this project. The students are building their molecular structure with some cool kits that Vonnie had and then “digitizing” them. The images will be imported into Movie Maker to create an adaptation clay animation with a voice over narration of their findings on their molecule. Vonnie will have a class library of instructional videos of over 30 molecules! Sharing ideas in Facebook has been an incredible way to stay creative and connected. Teachers, ask for ideas from your peers. It’s fun to see how willing everyone is to share.
An image to share
Fructose molecule created and digitized by Karen C. Seddon
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Steve Jobs
I completely understand the dilemma that teachers are in now to make sure they are working within the pacing guides, working around testing windows and having curriculum prescribed. Yet, the irony is that when being observed, teachers are supposed to show students doing inquiry-based-lessons with hands-on interaction. It is my greatest hope that teachers will embrace digital projects like the one we are doing now that not only fulfills the requirements of the pacing guide, but helps students develop their own learning through inquiry, research, respecting intellectual property and creating a product. The model of molecules project was already a great project, but by stepping it up a notch with digitization, the teacher and students have a video library that can be preserved. Students who were absent or are unable to do this project can watch the videos for enrichment or remediation. If you want to try a digital project and have never done one before, please get help and seek advice from those who have had successful experiences. You can avoid a lot of pitfalls by asking for systems and management techniques. Anything that is worth it, takes time and energy. Students creating digital projects is worth it!
How do you do that?
How do you celebrate the inquiring mind? Find a local issue in your community. Introduce the problem to your students and challenge them to solve it. This means of personalizing learning is called Challenge Based Learning. Students will take the challenge when they believe that what they have to say matters. They are more than capable of solving some of our major environmental and political issues because they are neither emotionally involved nor bureaucratically immersed. Can you imagine how powerful it would be if each class or school took on a local issue and help our communities solve the problem with a fresh, youthful solution? Standards can still be address, curriculum can still be met and problems can be solved. Students involved in this type of project-based learning remember the experiment as long as they live. Probably, the best advice I can give it to have a plan for x amount of days (with the flexibility to extend one more day because it almost always takes longer than you think) and start small for the first one. Instead of having each student present in front of the room, make the videos or presentations available and have them peer review in small groups or gallery walk style. The best case scenario would be to make them available online for a much wider audience and the quality of the projects will definitely become much more excellent. Thanks to all of you would helped mold this project idea for Vonnie and her students.
As always, I am