This lesson is part three of a three day activity in which students explore a topic of their choice in order to display their understanding of how the nervous system functions. Completing a project of their choice provides students with an opportunity to be creative and focus in on an aspect of the nervous system that is of interest to them.
In the first lesson - Beginning the Capstone Project - The students are introduced to the guidelines for the project. As part of this introduction, they brainstorm possible projects and create a timeline for project completion.
In the second lesson - Capstone Project Work Day - the students review their progress on the project and they spend time sharing their project with classmates in order to receive constructive feedback.
In this lesson, The students present their projects to the class and then field questions regarding how they completed the project and what they learned through the process of completing the project.
The following standards are addressed by this set of lessons:
NGSS SP6 as students are able to choose from a variety of options in order to:
Construct an explanation that includes qualitative or quantitative relationships between variables that predict(s) and/or describe(s) phenomena.
Construct an explanation using models or representations.
Apply scientific ideas, principles, and/or evidence to construct, revise and/or use an explanation for real-world phenomena, examples, or events.
NGSS MS-LS1-8 as the students create a project of their choice to demonstrate their understanding of how the senses respond to stimuli and send messages to the brain for behavior or storage as memories.
CCSS SL.8.5 as students use visuals and models to share information with the class.
NGSS SP8 is also addressed as the students communicate their information.
As the students enter the room, they take out their journals and respond to the prompt:
What are some questions you could ask the presenters today?
I request that the students develop at least three questions they could ask their peers after the presentations. Some students accurately state that it is difficult to come up with questions when they have not yet heard the presentations. I acknowledge this concern by telling the students that they will still be able to ask presentation specific questions, I would also like for them to think of more general questions about the topic. I also suggest to them that they could develop question stems that could be individualized for each presentation.
Once the students have had an opportunity to generate questions, I ask for volunteers to share their questions with the rest of the class. As volunteers share their questions, I write them on the board and have students write them in their journal. Some of the questions the students' developed include:
I ask the students to have their projects ready to present and to clear their desks, so they can focus on the presentations. Then I hand out the Nervous System Listening Guide. I review the listening guide questions with the students to ensure they understand the expectations.
I also review the Project rubric and the online portion with the students one more time as a reminder of the presentation expectations. I tell the students that I expect them to ask their classmates questions and I remind them that I will ask each group at least one question as well.
Note to teacher: I have found that the use of the listening guide helps the students focus more productively on the presentations of their peers in addition to providing them with an opportunity to write down information to refer back to prior to a summative assessment.
I randomly call on students to present their project to the class. This helps to hold the students accountable for their projects because they know that they can be called on to present at any time. Once a student has finished his/her presentation, he/she calls on classmates to ask questions.
The student is expected to accurately answer the question. Once the students have had their questions answered, I ask one final question. The questions I ask focus on having the students explain the structures and the functions of the nervous system. A question I typically ask is, "How does your project demonstrate your understanding of how information from sensory stimuli arrives at and is processed by the brain?"
This final question pushes students to self assess their understanding of the content learned in the unit. The additional questions also help the students (both those presenting and those in the audience) review the unit information in preparation for the summative assessment. I provide the students with a little time between presentations, so they can complete their listening guide.
Rigorous questioning can't be abandoned because students struggle. Instead, growing students to meet the rigor is the solution. I describe how I do this in my reflection.
Presentations of the capstone project addresses CCSS SL.8.5 as students use visuals and models to share information with the class. NGSS SP8 is addressed as the students communicate their information and NGSS MS-LS1-8 is addressed when the students develop their projects to explain how the nervous system functions.
When we near the end of class and it is apparent that there is not enough time for another student to present, I direct the students' attention to the last question on the listening guide. I explain to them that the question requires them to write something they have learned about the nervous system. The students are able to refer back to their previously written information from each presentation in order to answer the question. In this student summary sample, the student chose to write the final summary about a presentation that had not been previously summarized.
It is important to also discuss what we’ve learned (we remember conversations better), so I ask for volunteers to share their responses with the class. This allows us to discuss some of the students' projects and how they relate to our unit, which is a great review of unit information.
This video provides a view of a couple of student projects.