Connect STEM with Social Issues: WritinganArgumentMini-Paragraph.doc.docx

 
 
 
WritinganArgumentMini-Paragraph.doc.docx
Student Handout
 
 
The Gas Laws Unit Literacy Component highlights key vocabulary that will be seen during the unit, gets students thinking about how gas particles work, and discusses why the economic consequences of poor air quality. Students are also given statistics on the correlation of US counties with the worst particulate pollution and their demographics.
  • WritinganArgumentMini-Paragraph.doc.docx
  • WritinganArgumentMini-Paragraph.doc.docx
  • WritinganArgumentMini-Paragraph.doc.docx
Student Handout
 
 
The Gas Laws Unit Literacy Component highlights key vocabulary that will be seen during the unit, gets students thinking about how gas particles work, and discusses why the economic consequences of poor air quality. Students are also given statistics on the correlation of US counties with the worst particulate pollution and their demographics.
 
Academic Culture

Connect STEM with Social Issues

Students engage deeply when STEM lessons connect with social issues

Students want to feel that the work they are doing is meaningful, and in some way connected to their lives. I motivate my students to invest in my class by using Social Issue Openings to tie the day’s content to current events, social justice issues, or health related chemistry. For example, during our unit on Gas Laws, we talk about how the same principles that help bread rise and make popcorn pop contribute to air pollution and global warming. I’ve found that focusing on issues in science regarding race, class, and gender – subjects my students care deeply about – adds meaning to the work, and frames learning and achieving as part of a larger movement. This year, the conversation has largely revolved around increasing female representation in the STEM career fields, and I hope to continue using real-world examples to drive investment in my class.

Strategy Resources (3)
Student Handout
 
 
The Gas Laws Unit Literacy Component highlights key vocabulary that will be seen during the unit, gets students thinking about how gas particles work, and discusses why the economic consequences of poor air quality. Students are also given statistics on the correlation of US counties with the worst particulate pollution and their demographics.
Student Handout
 
 
The Thermodynamics Unit Literacy Component discusses the energy trapped in chemical bonds of high fructose corn syrup, and how that may contribute to the obesity epidemic when consumed in large quantities. Students read the article at the beginning of the unit and answer questions geared towards helping students organize their thoughts and make the connection to the content. Later on in the unit, students will evaluate the energy trapped in Flamin' Hot Cheetos and assess how their nutritional content compares to those of peanuts and legumes.
Student Handout
 
 
The Gas Laws Unit Literacy Component highlights key vocabulary that will be seen during the unit, gets students thinking about how gas particles work, and discusses why the economic consequences of poor air quality. Students are also given statistics on the correlation of US counties with the worst particulate pollution and their demographics.
Student Handout
 
 
The Thermodynamics Unit Literacy Component discusses the energy trapped in chemical bonds of high fructose corn syrup, and how that may contribute to the obesity epidemic when consumed in large quantities. Students read the article at the beginning of the unit and answer questions geared towards helping students organize their thoughts and make the connection to the content. Later on in the unit, students will evaluate the energy trapped in Flamin' Hot Cheetos and assess how their nutritional content compares to those of peanuts and legumes.
Jeff Astor
Cindy and Bill Simon Technology Academy High School
Los Angeles, CA


 

About this strategy

Prep Time:
Moderate
Subject:
Science
Grade:
Eleventh grade
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Assessment & Data
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Students engage deeply when STEM lessons connect with social issues

Synthesizing a year's worth of content is difficult for any student, so I always look for innovative new ways to keep my students engaged attempt to conquer all of the learning objectives in chemistry. During the 3 weeks leading up to the final exam, my classroom temporarily turns into a Chemistry Hunger Games war zone where students battle to "kill" off districts - each representing a different unit from the year. Using the chemistryhungergames.com website I designed, my students pour over videos, screencasts, text, images, simulators, and practice problems that prepare them for district assessments. Each student is allowed to take the district assessment as many times as needed to master the district’s content, and I rotate enough questions to make about 5 assessment versions for each district. Point values are assigned according to the proficiency level they achieve on their assessments - all of which are tracked online using a conditionally formatted google sheet to help monitor progress. This gamified twist to the learning process keeps students focused on the ultimate task, mastery of content, while also helping to reinforce that with enough practice and guidance, they have the ability to master anything.

 
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Students engage deeply when STEM lessons connect with social issues

Peer-review is an integral part of each learning cycle, and I spend much of the first three units teaching my students to engage in a critical analysis of each other’s work. Having another set of eyes examine work samples and offer feedback on how to address weak points in their arguments adds a valuable teamwork element to class structure. At the end of each unit, students complete a culminating lab where I pose a guiding question, and groups develop an experiment that will hopefully answer the question. To encourage deeper analytical thinking and avoid students submitting rushed work, I use Critical Friends Share Out periods to facilitate group reviews before final drafts are assessed. Students present their digital portfolios to another group by laying out the argument, evidence, and reasoning that they’ve compiled using Google Apps for Ed, Youtube, and Wikispaces (see “Lab Documentation” strategy). Just walking their classmates through their portfolio causes students to evaluate their own work and fix holes in their arguments. During this time, the other group takes notes and prepares for a critical review period. I want all students to be able to contribute positively to these discussions and give each group member a chance to support their classmates.

 
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Critical Friends: Portfolio Preparation
Students engage deeply when STEM lessons connect with social issues

Getting high school students to collaborate effectively can be tricky, though certain digital tools do a great job of making teamwork more seamless. Groups in my class keep document their lab activities using video recording, Youtube, and Google Apps for Ed, and compile Wikispaces digital portfolios with their work (see “Lab Documentation” strategy). Before submitting final drafts students engage in a Critical Friends review period where groups present their portfolios and offer critical feedback. First, each group gets Portfolio Preparation planning time where they can revisit the data they’ve collected, make sure all charts, tables, graphs, images, and videos are accurate, and pair them with solid written analyses. Labs are power learning activities, but oftentimes students are too busy trying to “complete work” instead of reflecting on the meaning of their results. Groups exhibit better teamwork when they have time allotted specifically to prepare portfolios, ultimately leading to more polished lab reports and focused class time.

 
 
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