Circulatory System Capstone Project - A 3 Day Event
Lesson 5 of 7
Objective: SWBAT create a project of their choice to demonstrate their understanding of the functioning circulatory system.
This three day project is spread out over the course of the unit. I introduce the project after most of the notes have been reviewed in class. The project work day takes place near the end of the unit. Project presentations take place just before the review day and summative assessment.
I use capstone projects as a part of units because they encourage students to be creative and focus on a project that is of personal interest. The projects provide students with time to further explore an area of interest, receive feedback from their peers, and authentically utilize the NGSS scientific practices. I encourage students to work on projects that are of interest to them or that will help them better understand a part of the unit that they find confusing.
This student journal provides an example of how the capstone project empowers and encourages students to become more independent in learning information.
Day 1 - Project Introduction
As the students enter the room, the prompt on the board asks them to think about the components of the circulatory system and what they do. When the bell rings, I lead a discussion about the various components of the circulatory system and how the system functions. I also ask the students why the circulatory system is important. At this point in the unit, I am looking for the students to be able to explain how the circulatory system is a transport system and the types of chemicals/items that travel through the circulatory system.
I explain that they will have an opportunity to work on a project of their choice to demonstrate their understanding of how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells (NGSS MS-LS1-3).
I open the Circulatory System Project Guidelines document on the SMARTBoard, so I can review it with the students. I begin by explaining that the students will need to create a project that will demonstrate their understanding of how the circulatory system functions and that this project cannot be the same type as the project they created for the nervous system (Beginning the Capstone Project). I review various project options with them by showing them examples of work created by previous classes. I am careful to point out that the work by previous classes was completed using a different rubric, so the work they are seeing may not be an A using this year's rubric. This provides an opportunity later for students to evaluate projects from previous years using the rubric they will be graded on.
I also remind the students that they are not limited to the project options I have listed, because I want them to be able to creatively express themselves while demonstrating their understanding. I allow the students to choose a partner for this activity, but I do not require it. At this point in the year, the students have a good understanding of their capabilities to work with a partner. I point out the specific standards that need to be met by the project and we review the project rubric, as found at the bottom of the guidelines.
After reviewing the project, I have the students open the Circulatory System Project Prep page. I explain to the students that this document is designed to help them think about the various aspects of the project to help them determine a project idea that they will enjoy and that will help them meet the project requirements. The students are expected to turn in this document, which provides me with more background into their thinking. One of the key items on the document is the project timeline section. As the students begin preparing to transition to high school, I want them to begin to focus on how best to plan their time in order to accomplish their work.
While the students work on planning their project, I answer their questions and help them narrow their project choices. This individual time is vital as some students have very general project ideas while others are very specific. Helping students determine their project without telling them specifically what to do is also important during this phase.
Day 2 - Project Work Day
As the students enter the classroom, they take out their journals and respond to the prompt:
How does your project inform the rest of the class about the circulatory system?
While the students write, I circulate through the room to review their responses and to ask follow up questions. I use this journal prompt to encourage students to think about the educational value of their own projects, so I do not ask them to share the information with the class. This is a sample of a student journal response.
I explain to the students that they will spend this class period working on their project and they should begin by completing a project update sheet. I review the project update sheet with the students and explain its requirements as well as the purpose for the questions. Even if students are working with a partner, I require each student to complete their own project update sheet, as this helps hold all students accountable.
I specifically spend time reviewing the I wonder... and I think... portions of the worksheet. I explain that the students should use the "I wonder..." portion to ask questions about the project or to make suggestions. For example, a student could write, "I wonder how the project would turn out if you performed the experiment on more people." Similarly, the "I think..." section is where I ask students to provide a compliment or point out an aspect of the project they particularly like.
I try to steer students to be as specific as possible, in order to provide their classmates with quality feedback to draw from. I also explain the expectations for the last portion of the update sheet, where students are asked to assess their project based on what they have completed so far. The purpose of this portion of the worksheet is to help students see exactly where they are in their work and to provide them with a better understanding of what their grade will be if they do not finish their work. I found that adding this section to the update sheet helped students focus more on getting their work done and it provided me with something to refer back to if students had questions about their final grade, as I was able to discuss their work completion habits with them.
After reviewing the update sheet with the students, I have them find their partner and begin working. As the students work, I circulate through the room, asking them questions and facilitating the completion of their update sheets. During this time I also help to facilitate the interactions between partner sets for the I wonder and I think portion of the worksheet. I have the students begin this activity by first explaining their project idea to the other students and sharing what has been completed so far. The students listening have the opportunity to ask questions in order to better understand the purpose of the project. Then the two groups switch roles, as the second group explains their project. The students take some time to think about the information presented and then write their feedback on the other group's paper. While facilitating these discussions, I emphasize the importance of providing helpful feedback that is specific enough to be meaningful.
Once students are finished providing feedback, I ask them to think about the feedback they were given and to examine their project to see if they want to make adjustments or changes based on the feedback they were given.
While students are working on the rubric portion of the worksheet, I remind them to be honest with themselves and that this is the time to look at their work with a critical eye, so they can have a true perspective of how well their project meets the requirements. This is a student work sample.
Once the students have completed the update sheet, they begin working on their projects. As they work on their projects, they are addressing multiple NGSS Cross Cutting Concepts and Scientific Practices, and these will vary based on the projects the students choose. For instance, some students complete experiments while other write research papers.
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?
While the students write, I circulate through the room to read the students' responses. Once the students have had time to write a few question, I ask for volunteers to share their questions with the class. As volunteers share, I encourage the students to write additional questions in their journal, because they will refer back to this list to ask questions during the presentations. This is a sample of a student journal list of questions.
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 lead the students in generating a listening guide. We have used listening guides in previous lessons, so the students are familiar with their structure. For this lesson, I wanted to give the students more ownership, so I ask them to suggest the items to put on the listening guide. I write the list on the board as the students make suggestions and we reviewed the final list as a group.
I also review the project rubric 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. This is a student listening guide sample.
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 circulatory system and how its function impacts the rest of the body. A question I typically ask is, "How does your project demonstrate your understanding of how the function of the circulatory system impacts the rest of the body?"
This question requires the students to think about the broader scope of the unit and how their project fits in. These 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.
This video provides a review of some examples of student projects.