Reflection: Student Ownership Marshmallow Molecules - Section 5: Mini Lesson: Show your independence!


It might seem terrifying to simply provide students with a reading and set of directions that covers new material.  There is something about introducing students to a new topic that can make us as teachers want to go through the notes with students as a whole class.  We feel better that we are sure they all got the information.  And then, we want to go through all of the directions ahead of time explaining the details of the process step by step.  I can't tell you how many times I have done this.  However, I have found when I do this, students actually do not read at all.  You see, middle school students are smart.  They can figure out that if you are always going to go over the reading and directions, that they don't actually have to obtain the information for themselves.  However, if I have them read to obtain new information and follow a procedure without any "hints", it forces them to read more carefully.  Moreover, middle school students appreciate and welcome the independence this brings.  It allows students to process at their own pace and have the processing time that they need when they reach road blocks.

Now, I would never put students in this situation with practice with this skill or without providing them with strategies such as "Talking to the Text" and "The Ladder of Discourse".  However, if I never give them a chance to show independence in this area, I will never know if they can truly master the skill of utilizing text to find meaning.  And, as a teacher, I am always formatively assessing as they go through this process.  Based on their product and explanations, I can easily identify students that may need reteaching or more help.  

Even though as teachers our natural instinct is to explain the details, take opportunities to provide students with an opportunity to complete tasks and learning independently!

  Provide Students With Chances to Show Independence
  Student Ownership: Provide Students With Chances to Show Independence
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Marshmallow Molecules

Unit 4: Physical Properties: Molecular Arrangement and Phase Changes
Lesson 1 of 12

Objective: Students will be able to develop models of elements, molecules, compounds, and mixtures.

Big Idea: Students use marshmallows and toothpicks to develop models of molecular structures! In addition, students utilize graphing to monitor their own learning.

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