Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Day 52: Your Menu, Madam

I'm treading water a bit in Astronomy.  I couldn't get my classes into the computer labs because they were either being used or being repaired.  No one brought their art supplies for their projects, which is fine.

Thankfully, I figured this would be the case so I had a chapter summary sheet ready for them.  I gave them the chance to work on their projects or the sheets in class while I got caught up with some work I had.

I'm in the process of modifying a sheet from one of my colleagues that gives students a menu of assignments from each section and allows them to decide how they will demonstrate mastery.  The list is meant to be updated for each unit, but many of the options will remain the same.

  • Make a crossword puzzle with all of of the vocabulary words
  • Make vocabulary mini-posters for the WordWall
  • Answer the questions at the end of the chapter in the textbook
  • Create a concept map
  • Summarize the experiments that have been done on this topic
  • Do a lab at home
  • Write a creative story, comic book or movie script involving the vocabulary words
  • Write a song or rap about the main idea of the chapter
  • Build a scale model

These are just a few of the ideas.  Students pick one option from each section (Vocabulary, Content Learning, Experimental, Creative Expression, Assessment) with each assignment worth a different amount of points.  They have to select at least 50 points worth for each section.

Adding student choice gives them much more investment in their learning.  I will say that I'm annoyed at how many kids who constantly complain about having tests chose to take the test as their optional assignment.

Last week:
"Man! Why do we have to take tests? Why can't we do a project??"

This week:
"Here's some projects for you so you don't have to take the test."
"Naw. I'll just take the test."

I distinctly remember writing about exactly this same issue a year and a half ago.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The 4 inner planets are to scale (1 hex block = 1000 km)
The 4 outer planets are to scale (1 hex block = 10,000 km)
The sun is to scale (1 hex block = 100,000 km)

And the Earth is flat!!

In physics, we had a discussion about experimental design and their reflections of the lab yesterday.  We talked about what things went wrong, what could be changed for next time and how the lab could have been modified to minimize human error.  Before the next lab, we will review what we talked about and, hopefully, will have improved results.

I think, perhaps, the conversation we had yesterday had a bit of an impact since our discussion today was very productive.

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