This is the culminating project for my Introduction to Science unit, where the students are tasked to use the different learning experiences to create their own scientific method and engineering design process.
This project is about developing the 21-Century Skills of critical thinking and problem solving as it requires the students to be able to organize, analyze and synthesize information to develop well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, and judging them against relevant criteria. They will need to consider different alternatives and the practical consequences of their decisions.
The students work in partnerships of their own choosing for the first three days (day 1, days 2 & 3) and presentations are held on the fourth day. During this time, students are mostly working independently.
The links to the project will take you to the project page I created using WIX. You will also find the same documents as word documents so that you can modify them to fit your needs.
The project was presented very briefly on Day 1 of the unit, but it was not unpacked, nor did we go through a formal "need to know" phase. In this case, I wanted to expose the students to different experiences where they could build a solid knowledge base, so that the finished projects could be based on the activities and knowledge they acquired through them as opposed to what they could find on a textbook or internet research.
Today students will unveil their engineering and scientific method posters. I tell the students that they will have 5 minutes to put any final touches before we begin.
Students do not present to the whole class. After all, no one wants to sit through 14+ presentations that begin with, "We start the process of inquiry with a question." Instead, every poster receives a number and the students hang their posters around the room so the students can view each poster. Once the posters are hung, I tell the students that they will have two tasks to accomplish during the next 20 minutes:
1. They will choose one poster to compare their own to, and use the poster comparison sheet to detail their thinking.
2. They will use the rubric to evaluate the poster they are comparing to their own. On the back of the rubric, they must choose at least one of the items and justify the grade they gave for it. This justification must be done using the ACE (answer-cite-extend) strategy taught previously as they are answering the question "Why did I give a _____ for the ____ item?"
Both of this activities foster critical thinking as they require that the students refer to details, evaluate the thinking and findings of others and integrate what they learned with the visuals they are analyzing. Take a look at the students' work and then, listen in to the conversation the students have while doing the gallery walk.
As the students are engaged in these activities, I use the time to evaluate the posters (grade-book grade). Both my rubric and the student graded rubric are given back to the partnerships. Even though we are finishing up, and other grade levels will choose which ones we will keep up as reference for the rest of the school year, the students can still modify/revise them (on their own time) to increase their XP and earn a power-up.
At the close of each unit, I ask the students to write a reflection blog post on all that they learned and accomplished. I tell the students that this post follows the same format as the weekly reflections they have been writing, and that the only difference is that they are reflecting on the unit as a whole. The blog post is about making what they learned visible and self-evaluating in order to improve learning and the quality of their work in the future. It is also about letting all of us know what works for them, so that we can modify future learning experiences.
The unit reflection post must include a brief summary of what they learned, an image of their work, "ACEing" the answer, and one question in each of the four reflective categories (backward, inward, outward, forward). They can also use their peer-graded rubric if they wish to respond to it.
I asked some students to tell us what advice they would have given their previous selves at the beginning of the project. This is what they said.