More on Student Exploration

The past six weeks have been quite enjoyable. My family vacationed from Taiwan to the Pacific Northwest to visit friends and family. I learned a lot as I watched my 5 & 8 month olds explore this world. Now, I’m in the position of refreshing my thoughts from the end of last school year as I plan for the coming one. Pushing ahead with being deliberate with observations…

A few major outcomes for students:

  • identify and observe cycles throughout the year
  • independently explore and question
  • write
  • look closely

I plan to open the first 30 minutes of class to active student observations and inquiry. As students enter class, they will begin work on an area of choice from a series of tasks. [This time will also allow me to pull students aside as needed for talks, explanations, etc.].

In my previous post, I went through the items that I am thinking about having students focus on. I want the work to be constant and visual so I’m thinking about a “wall blog”.  I have a large wall outside of my classroom that I plan to divide into sections for each student. This personal space will act as a blog that students update on a weekly basis. I envision students having a menu of choices that they can pull from to work on as they like. Space for comments will be provided and encouraged. (Unfortunately, I do not have enough computer access for each student to create an electronic blog. I am currently debating whether or not to let those who want to do so. Based on previous years, each student typically has some sort of personal link to the internet though not all have portable capabilities. I like wall blogs for all because it will make it easier for me to look over but appreciate the increased capabilities of students to make electronic blogs. If a student has the capability, they will still get a wall space in order to advertise their blog and a link from the class page.)

Minimum requirements (focus on Quarter 1 as a trial):

  • Contribution to class data collection on scheduled dates
  • Plant Cell drawings
  • Animal Cell drawings
  • Tracking of an outdoor plant – at least once every two weeks (5 classes) a student must photograph / sketch the same plant and monitor its changes through qualitative and quantitative observations
  • From seed to flower – Drawings and observations
  • Pond Life – a small pond is located on campus. What characteristics do organisms in the pond share / are unique?
  • Other…

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