Phase 1: Getting started …

It was a bit weird when I finally got this Science unit off the ground. First, it is always interesting (and challenging) teaching a unit for the first time. You just don’t know how things are going to go … sometimes everything goes smoothly, and the kids are exactly where you think they are at, and the lessons straight forward. And sometimes … well, things aren’t.

I was very excited as our second FOSS Science unit approached. I had learned a lot about note booking, and how to get more out of students regarding reflection, and looking back at their learning and summarizing the “big ideas”. I was ready to take the next step – VoiceThread. The goal was to have the students demonstrate, through verbal reflections, their understanding of the following FOSS science outcomes:

Science Outcomes: FOSS Structures of Life Investigation 1 (The Origin of Seeds) & 2 (Growing Further)
1. Develop an attitude of respect for life.
2. Observe and compare properties of seeds and fruits.
3. Investigate the effect of water on seeds.
4. Observe, describe, and record properties of germinated seeds.
5. Compare different kinds of germinated seeds.
6. Grow plants hydroponically and observe the life cycle of a bean plant.

How to best integrate technology? I hoped to hit on the following TAIL standards:

TAIL Standards:

Effective Learners

E.L. Standard 1: Students efficiently gather, critically evaluate, and effectively use information.
Performance Indicators:

  1. Students inquire about their learning to make connections to prior knowledge, determine relevance, and deepen understanding.

Effective Communicators and Creator
E.C.C. Standard 1: Students use appropriate media and environments to effectively communicate ideas, knowledge, and understanding to audiences ranging from local to global.
Performance Indicators:

  1. Students communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using media and format appropriate to both the task and the audience.
  2. Students use technology and other information tools to organize and display knowledge and understanding in ways that others can view, access, and use.

Effective Collaborators
E.C. Standard 1: Students connect with peers and recognized experts to collaborate, develop their own understanding, contribute to the learning of others, and contribute to the global society using a variety of media.
Performance Indicators:

  1. Students interact, collaborate, and publish with peers experts, or others using a variety of digital environments or media.

My plan was to encourage as much discussion as possible at the start of the unit. I planned to do this by sharing the following questions with the students, at various stages of the unit but definitely before VoiceThread reflections were to take place.

KEY QUESTIONS: (for discussion)

1) Effective Learners
Make connections to prior knowledge …
What do we already know about seeds?
How have we used digital stories in the past to share our learning?
Deepen understanding …
How does creating a digital story deepen our understanding of what we are learning?
2) Effective Communicators and Creators
Why do we communicate our learning to outside audiences?
What is the best way (involving media) to communicate our learning?
3) Effective Collaborators
Why is it important to interact and collaborate when learning?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of collaboration?

And other than that, I wanted to build on prior knowledge as much as possible, connecting to earlier learning (including the technology component and VoiceThread), and keep it simple. Six facets of understanding would drive the unit:

Explain: Students will explain what they are observing as the seed changes over time, focusing on the effect water has on seeds, and how seeds change into plants.

Apply: Students will try to make connections, predictions, and inferences based on what they observe. These will be a focus of the digital story.

Interpret: Students will see changes taking place within the seed over time, and attempt to explain why.

Perspective: Through on-going digital stories (produced by all students), we will be exposed to the explanations and views of others. What are other people thinking about similar observations?

Self-Knowledge: Observations will need to be communicated (without a script) to gauge depth of understanding. Knowledge (and experience) of VoiceThread will lead to more independence, and a chance to learn from each other as well.

Empathize: Students will develop an attitude of respect for life, and understand what plants need to survive.

The task you ask?

Goal: To produce a digital story using VoiceThread which tracks the life of a seed over time (working independently OR in pairs)

Role: Students will describe the changes taking place over time. They will need to carefully record their observations using words, sketches, diagrams, and digital photos to support their story. Entries in VoiceThread will then describe what the seed is experiencing.

Audience: Global. These will be posted on the class blog.

Situation: We will begin by describing the properties of our seeds. Then, we will document the changes that take place over time, with an emphasis on:
– the effect of water
– the transformation from seed to plant
– growth of the plant

Product Performance: A VoiceThread which tells the story of a seed as it changes and grows over time.

More to come on how this went …


~ by yamaguru on April 6, 2010.

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