Students have completed Designing an Eco Friendly Home Part 1 and are now ready to start to design. My strategy is to use conceptual models to promote understanding. Using pencils, students draw a preliminary design of what they think the home should look like. I ask them to consider the rooms, dimensions and the layout of the building. They become frustrated because they need more information. My intention is for them to want to do some research to design the best solution.
My students are at tables of four. After they have finished drawing their models, they share models with the students at their tables. This helps alleviate the frustration of not knowing what to do. There are lots of teaching strategies for sharing work but in STEM classes, there is also a component of collaboration. The strategy I use is Give One-Get One. Students write down one sentence about why they drew their preliminary design the way they did. I number off all students in pairs. I say, "Give One Get One." Students go to their partners to give and get an idea.
After the preliminary drawings, I ask students to think about what they need to know in order to design an eco-friendly home. I use a think-pair-share strategy for the next part of the lesson. My intention is to give students think time as well as partner discussion time.
By themselves, students write down questions they have regarding eco-friendly design. The strategy is called I Need to Know. I ask them to consider the size of the building and the dimensions of the rooms. Then they pick a shoulder partner and share questions. Finally they share with the entire table. Students write down one another's questions in their notebooks. One person goes to the computer and shares a Google Document of their questions with me. I make a new document in Google Docs called Eco Friendly Home Questions by cutting and pasting the student questions in the document. We examine the questions as a class, deleting questions that repeat and re-wording questions. You may need extra time because you might be able to begin some phenomenon teaching. In addition, I'm modeling my thinking about how my word choice can make it easier to conduct an effective search.
At this point I become an expert. I say, "There are some science principles you will need to know to design the best solution." I ask my students to write down, "What is geo-thermal heating? What is passive solar heating?" My intention is to build in questions that connect content standards to learning.
At this point the students have questions to research. I pair them up into research partners. Partners divvy up the questions so they are sharing the responsibility for completing the research. I ask students, "Why do you think I do this?" Their responses include, "We want to get correct answers." "We want to have more than one site as a reference.
A research strategy I use is called Creating a Reference. This strategy allows students to cut and paste research answers into a document. Many of the research questions are student generated and may or may not be useful in the project. My intention for this activity is for students to create a reference sheet that can be used later to defend designs. For example, a child may find the answer to an eco-friendly material is recycled insulation. No one knows if this information is useful until the child's concept of the design has progressed.
Take a look at the Student Sample in the movie below.
The purpose of the Reference sheet is to find answers and record URLs for use later in the lesson so I want them to cut and paste. They will be summarizing and using citations as they defend their design and this reference sheet prevents having to find sites all over again. In addition, because students have been to the sites, it is easy to go back and find useful information from a site they already looked at.