Letting kids link concepts for themselves + 3 tips to start school student-centered

August 25, 2012 at 8:20 AM Leave a comment

Setting up for science was the big objective today, wanted to inspire them and get to know them and where they are coming from in terms of concept comprehension and general interest in physical science.

1. Showed the OMG cooooool “Curiosity has Landed” from NASA.

a. Let ’em just watch.

b. Tell them how you want them to respond (by writing bullet points on a white board at their table of 4)

c. Reveal the question to respond to (“Why is this clip a good way to start 8th grade physical science class?”)

d. Let them get on with it right away. Circulate.

Here’s what they came up with: Inspiring, fascinating, links with force and motion concepts, links with the egg head helmet project. Shows team work, striving, that you can succeed if you work very hard together. It was a creative and surprising way to land gently. Even scientists get really excited and happy when their project succeeds. There were quite a few women in the mission control team. It’s beginning something new. And it’s in the news right now.

So that hits all the points I might have made myself and imagine, they are much more interested in what each other has to say than listening to me 🙂

Big Tip 1: In the past, I’d probably set the question first and THEN told them how I wanted them to respond. But it’s much quicker to switch it round. Tell them how to respond and set them up to want to know the question. Reveal and straight down to it. Really, really works and really great to reduce teacher talk and increase kids doing things. (Thanks for this tip, Michael Randall.

2. Expose their prior knowledge about force and motion concepts.

Explained what ‘active construction of knowledge’ means, and why it’s important to re-activate their prior knowledge.

Used the Concept ConstruXion cards from Teachersforlearners.

a. Ahead of class, I picked out the force and motion concepts from the box (or you can write each vocab term from the unit on an index card and use tape). Slapped them up on the whiteboard.

b. Showed how I wanted them to each collect a card then put their word at the corner of their mini whiteboard at their desk. Each student takes a turn to explain how their word is linked to at least one other word at their table and draws an arrow.

c. Then let them loose (half at a time) to get their words and make links. Very interesting to circulate and listen in on what they already understood, or were confused by.

d. Come into a big horseshoe around the front. Start with “Motion”. Explain it. Pick on another person’s card that you think is closely connected to motion. Next person explains the link (or to any word on the whiteboard already).

Big Tip 2: I’m resisting the urge to repeat what they say or correct or clarify. Because that negates what they are saying to each other and makes you, the teacher, the purveyor of all knowledge and it’s sort of disrespectful, now I think about it. (Thanks again to Michael shared during our start of year inservice.) I’m also seating myself at the same level of them and within the horseshoe, so they don’t talk just to me, but to us all.

Student Developing Conceptions the start of the Force and Motion units:

A decent grasp of speed and motion.

Some ‘feel’ for inertia but much confusion about it’s exact definition.

Few have much idea of the difference between speed and velocity. Some confusion re. cause and effect with force causing motion or motion causing force, or both.

No one knew what ‘vector’ and ‘scalar’, nor ‘average speed’ or ‘net force’. Some imaginative and educated guesses though. I didn’t reveal the answers at this point purposely. Want them to struggle a bit and work hard to recall.

Distance traveled and time it takes to get there is often a little unclear as we talk about a car trip as being ‘an hour’ instead of ’53 miles’ or whatever.

More gravity was thought to slow objects down, because of having watched astronauts bouncing around on the moon. With more gravity on Earth, we move slower, or at least with more effort. Great reason for thinking what looks like a totally wrong idea. Kind of a fun way to end the day.

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Entry filed under: Astronomy, Class Management, Curiosity, Education Psychology, Egg Head Helmet Force & Motion Project, Physics Topics, Starting the School Year. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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