Desired Results I would like my students to have a deeper understanding and interest in the world around them--both the natural world and the engineered world. To me, these are the core ideas of science and engineering. What is around us and how can we use it to our advantage while minimizing negative impacts on the earth?
I think urban students today have a tenuous connection to the natural world around them. My sense is that these children spend a lot of time inside watching TV and playing video games. They are avid consumers of technology. I would like my students to be exploring the world around them and asking questions. One way I encourage this is by taking them outside of the school on field trips. I will continue to take them to science museums, natural history museums and nature centers. The new aspect in this IMAGINE IT project is the engineering component.
This project will focus on water. How do we manage the water around us? Where does our drinking water come from? What happens after I flush the toilet? I would like to guide my students to these questions and encourage them to find out more about local water management as well as global water issues.
Performances of Understanding Throughout the year, I will use Google Forms for formative assessment within each unit, giving students short quizzes on the earth science topics we are studying. I will include a question asking students to identify an issue that they are interested in researching related to water. I will also use Google Classroom as a discussion board where students can post their questions, ideas and findings about the water issues we are studying.
After each Earth Science unit, small groups of students will create Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to show the school community what they have learned about the water around us and why this matters. The students will be able to show what they have learned in a video, poster, pamphlet, or powtoon. We will post these to Google Classroom and around the school where appropriate. There is a TV screen outside the lunchroom that can be used to play student-created videos and photos. Students will receive feedback from their group members and their teacher before projects are made public.
Learning Experience and Instruction 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.
The core curriculum that I use is SEPUP Issues and Earth Science. Each unit in this curriculum is tied to a real-world issue. I lead teacher Professional Development for this curriculum and the team that I work with has identified essential questions and observable phenomena related to the issues and topics presented. For example, in the first unit on Erosion and Deposition, the problem or issue is for students to weigh relative advantages and disadvantages of three sites in order to make a decision on where to build in a fictional town. Students should consider the impact on wildlife and the natural environment, as well as cost and safety. The observable phenomenon in this unit is “the earth’s surface changes.” The Essential Question is “How do earth processes shape the land around you?” Both of these concepts relate to the water around us.
I will use a combination of different teaching and learning strategies throughout my science instruction, which include, but are not limited to, demonstrations, modeling, hands-on labs, gallery walks, graphic organizers, science journals, concept mapping, talking drawings, simulations, and collaborative groups.
My grade-level team has a shared cart of Chromebooks that I can access once or twice per week. I have two desktop computers in my classroom. I have a grant in to DonorsChoose requesting 20 Chromebooks for my STEM classroom. Ideally, I would have a 1:1 chromebook situation, or at least 2:1. Students will collaborate with each other on Google Classroom and prepare docs, slides and drawings to share. We will also use Google Classroom as a discussion board for the water issues we are uncovering. Students will use simulations and real-time data throughout the course, especially in the units on Plate Tectonics and Weather and Atmosphere.