Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Scientist for a day

During the holidays I met with my LC4 teaching buddy to discuss our plans for term 3. We are in the midst of immersing our learners in Digital Age Literacy (see attached image), yes this goes across the term break! Initially we considered some of the activities in our planning document. But Lisa floated the idea of "scientist for a day", in a short space of time this had morphed into we what presented to LC4 on day 1 of the term.

Immersion into a world they didn't know was our main motivation, but we also wanted to excite them, provide a level playing field for some new students in our space and challenge several learner profile statements. It would serve as a great activity for us to observe many possible learning needs.

When the students arrived Monday morning they were confronted with a table that included:
Models demonstrating gears & pullies,
Newtons Cradle,
Models of the brain,
Plant Life Cycle,
DNA model,
Microscope slides with various objects.

The excitement before the had even started was fantastic!

Our first task was watching some short science videos - all conformed to the notion of snackable content. As a class we completed a PMI chart on the style of videos, this was later turned into the criteria/matrix for a science video they would create. The audience would be other HPPS students, each video would explain the particular model/concept the students had been charged with. QR codes would be used to link to the published videos.

Next we broke students into groups of 3 with peers they don't normally work with, they were given a random science model and sent off to brainstorm all their questions and prior knowledge.

Our original idea was that creating the video would take place within the day. However, the first block hadn't elapsed and we'd noticed that the day wouldn't be enough for the task. All groups were highly engaged, sharing their excitement and asking lots of good questions.

After morning tea we provided the learners with a graphic organiser to scaffold their research. We supplemented their journey with more models, texts, wonderings of our own as we modelled noticing things and asking questions to help us understand.

Lunchtime arrived quickly with talk of brains hurting and plenty of sharing their findings taking place. The final block continued in the same vein, except for a short workshop on creating a QR code, which they would need when they completed the filming.

Day 2 included plans to refresh/immerse our learners in several creative platforms (iMovie, YouTube Editor, Screencasting via Quicktime and Explain Everything).

Our learners have been busy researching, writing scripts, creating videos and  generally building their understanding of a small part of the scientific world.

So what's next?

Lisa and I wondered today about whether a second iteration would be appropriate, instead we'll allow a small group to pursue any new wonderings if student voice and needs demand it.

We contemplated whether allowing this activity to run into tomorrow is a good thing. The science literacy and basic literacy is unquestioned, our students are so busy hurting their brains with their learning. While we have shaped, nudged, modelled and questioned each group, the process and its direction has been very student-led, this has meant that very little maths has been integrated. Sharing our thoughts in reflection time as the day ended the students told us about the many measurement learnings they had had.

Students have challenged themselves with their creative skills and the sharing tomorrow shall be enlightening.

Our students have used their research skills both online and in books and we've witnessed them evaluate sources, synthesise information, skim & scan, summarise, plan, craft, and recraft their writing.

Permission to not teach and just observe has been powerful. We have many workshops we will be able to run based on our observations and the students will no doubt have many ideas for new projects, workshops and curiosities to explore. A key moment will be to complete mini-conferences to celebrate each groups learning with their whanau.

Soon we will enter our project phase. An important decision we need to explore is how might we best leverage our immersion activities so that the learning and dispositional needs of each learner is met.

Tomorrow our 3rd day of #ScientistForADay will continue.

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