I've created an elective class that is focused on the engineering design process and computer science.
This week students designed their Google websites which will be used as ePortfolios. Students will showcase their projects and write reflection pieces regarding their work. See my website for the class here.
Next students took part in the Marshmallow Challenge to give students a taste of design without a process. Only one team got their design to actually stand up! See slideshow from the challenge below.
Next, teams looked for patterns among all of their team designs. Then they chose the team design.
Tomorrow they will create their template and begin crafting.
In biology, we've gotten off to a great start. We are investigating the concept "Is it living? How do you know." My intention is for students to devise a "rule" regarding how they know something is alive. this will lead into our investigation of the cell.
I'm using the writing structure "claim, evidence, and reason" as described in the book Negotiating Science by Brian Hand & Lori Norton-Meier.
Teams started by observing 5 items: hermit crabs, kelp, turban snails, water, and a rock. Students pointe to the snail and crabs as being alive. Their evidence/criteria was that they moved. This is a limited notion that students have at this age. I was surprised when I showed students a solar car and many of them concluded that it is alive also because it moves.
One technique I am using is NOT to tell students the correct answer. Instead, I ask students in the class what they think. I use popsicle sticks with students name and draw them as random. I call another student and ask if they agree or disagree with the ideas of the first student. Notice I said ideas. We are not talking about right and wrong answers at this point. This phase of the lesson is a mix of formative assessment and argumentation. By asking students to comment on other student ideas, they are using higher level skills of analysis and argumentation. I find a lot more energy in the class now that I use this technique rather than me just telling them yes that's correct, no it's not.
So to get back to the solar car. The next day, I wrote on the board "if it moves, then it's alive." I asked students to write whether they thought that was a good rule and why or why not. I used this for my argumentation and analysis phase that I just described. With guidance from my questioning, students arrived at the conclusion that a solar car is not alive. (Phew!)