Reflection: Student Ownership Cookie Asteroids - Section 2: Prelab (Set-up)


At the beginning of the school year I provide my students with a prepared lab worksheet with all the directions and procedures for them. Early in the year my goal is to get the students working. By the end of the year my students are familiar with this structure and are ready for another challenge.

This challenge is the removal of the prepared lab worksheet and the introduction of student written lab assignments in their Interactive Science Notebook. As part of the 'Prelab' assignment. I review what the expectations are for the lab, what the students will be doing the day before, and what their notebook lab assignment should look like. The first few times I actually have the students write the entire lab assignment in class, but as their proficiency grows so does the expectations. 

After I am confident that that they now exactly what is expected I give them more responsibility to set the entire lab up in their notebooks,. Typically they are responsible for having a lab title, list of materials, an essential questions, a hypothesis, data charts, graphs, and review questions. I model everything and spoon feed what they should have gradually shift the responsibility to them.

The first few times are a little rough, with many students missing the lab because the didn't take me serious or didn't want to put in the effort. Those student who are not ready get to spend the lab time setting up their notebook. When they are ready they get to play catch-up and try to finish the lab.

Don't give up, the whining will eventually stop when they get the idea. They soon learn that preparation on their part provides for a fun and productive lab day. I only start these new procedures after my kids have come to the conclusion that lab day is fun and special and worth doing a bit of extra work. My goal is to create independent workers for the high school science teachers.

  Switch from a worksheet to a student notebook.
  Student Ownership: Switch from a worksheet to a student notebook.
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Cookie Asteroids

Unit 11: Solar System
Lesson 6 of 8

Objective: Students will be able to determine the distribution of asteroids in the asteroid belt by using chocolate chip cookies as an analogy.

Big Idea: Crushed chocolate chip cookies help students relate to the distribution of asteroids in the asteroid belt.

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