This year, I will enact my Imagine IT project with three classes of 6th grade Earth and Space Science. My school, West Ridge, is incredibly diverse, with over 35 languages spoken among our student population. We also have a large number of students who are refugees. My goal is always to teach grade-level content in an accessible way to a large number of ESL students who speak a range of languages. I see each class for 55 minutes per day. There are 30-35 students in each class. My grade-level team has a shared cart of Chrome books that I can access once or twice per week. I have two desktop computers in my classroom.
The big idea for this project is to appreciate and understand what happens to the water around us. Where does it go? Why is it important to keep it clean? Will it run out? Is there water on other planets? All of these questions tie into one of our 6th grade Earth and Space Science units with the overarching idea being “Where does the water go?” The units we study are titled Erosion and Deposition, Plate Tectonics, Weather and Atmosphere, Earth in Space, and Exploring the Solar System. We will also look at the way the hydrosphere interacts with the biosphere, geosphere and atmosphere. Some resources we will use include the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and the City of Chicago web sites for Water Management and Environment and Sustainability.
One way I will assess performances of understanding is by having students create public service announcements (PSA) each quarter highlighting one important aspect or process involving earth’s water. They can do this in a high-tech or low-tech way, in small groups or individually. I will show them the basics of youtube editor and powtoons, but they can use whatever technology they have and would like to use. Along the way, the students will create output such as talking drawings and models to visualize their ideas. Students will work collaboratively both at school and online via Google Classroom. They will keep a science journal in class to organize their learning.
One pedagogical technique I will use is field trips! I will take my 6th graders to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District as well as the Lake Michigan Water Filtration Plant so that they can see in a concrete, visual way how THEIR water is treated and why this is important. We will learn more about the important resources that Lake Michigan provides Chicago. We will also explore the current issue of lead in the water at CPS schools. This may lead to a letter that the students write to local politicians.
One technology I will focus on is Google Apps for Education, specifically Google Classroom, for tracking and sharing student work and encouraging collaboration and discussion. I will post overarching questions and encourage students to contribute to the discussion outside of school. I will also use Google translate and other translation apps in order to make the content more accessible to students who are new English Language Learners. Additionally, I have posted a grant request to DonorsChoose for 20 Chrome books to be kept in my classroom. I would like the students to work in pairs and submit most of their assignments through Google Classroom. Also, students will make their learning visible by presenting information to the class in Google Drawing and Google Slides.
The goal of this project is to help my 6th grade students understand that the quality of our water affects them everyday, and that they can change and influence what happens to our water, both locally and globally. I would like this project to lead to some action that the students will take, but I don't want to prescribe what that will look like. As we progress through our Earth Science Units and Imagine IT, they may get excited about local issues, or perhaps global issues since my students come from all over the world. If the students take it in this direction, we may even explore water issues in developing countries, war-torn countries or refugee camps. This could be very interesting.