Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
In a student-centered classroom, students are expected to answer questions by designing their own investigations. The questions may be suggested by the teacher, or they may be determined by the students. Once there is a focus for an investigation, how should students proceed? And, as students investigate, how can they learn some general strategies for answering math and science questions? In this workshop, we'll explore some ways students build understandings of how to "do" math and science.
The Great Bean Bag Adventure
In this workshop, we demonstrate the use of bean baggies--the basic design for the six experiments. We invite you to use our design, or to come up with your own method for sprouting the seeds. We also encourage you to choose the variables which interest you, and design your own experiments based on these variables.
In the Wheel Problem videoclip, Kristen's students came up with a variety of solutions to the problem, and used a variety of different materials and methods to illustrate their solutions. What are some strategies you have used after an open-ended activity such as this one to give students an opportunity to share their methods and their results, and to learn from the solutions of others? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of these strategies?
When students formulate their own questions and design investigations to answer these questions, they are involved in a scientific process. How can you (without being too directive) help students infer some general "strategies of process" and "habits of mind" from a specific hands-on math or science investigation, strategies that students can use to answer other questions in math and science?
Select a math or science activity to use in your class in the upcoming week. Using a tape recorder, record yourself administering the activity. (We suggest wearing a fanny pack or carpenter apron allowing you to move around the classroom.) Later, listen to the recording and focus on the questions you asked. Select a 5-minute segment from the beginning, middle, and end of the activity and make a list of the questions you asked during each segment. Bring your list of questions with you to Workshop 3.
Suggested Grade Level: K-5
Students set up a small classroom landfill to observe how different materials decompose over time.
Large cardboard box
Plastic garbage bag
Soil (not sterilized potting soil)
Different types of "trash" paper (e.g., newspaper, notebook paper, paper towel, toilet paper, egg crates)
Ask students to think about where trash goes after it is picked up by the garbage truck. Explain that much of our garbage goes to landfills. A landfill is a place where trash is compacted and then covered with dirt. Landfills are made up of alternating layers of trash and dirt.
Use the following directions to help students build their own landfills.
Use questions such as the following to help students' investigations when they check their samples:
Over time, your students will observe that different types of paper decompose at different rates, and landfills under certain conditions allow paper to decompose faster.
Students can observe what happens to the same type of trash when it is left in other conditions, such as different types of soil (e.g., sand, clay, gravel) or even water. To see what happens to trash when it is placed in water, repeat the directions listed above, but place the trash in pans of water rather in the classroom landfills made with soil.
Adapted from Bosak, Susan V. 1991, Science Is . . . Ontario, Canada: Scholastic Canada Ltd.
As a result of activities in grades K-4, all students should develop understanding of
"Students in elementary school should have a variety of experiences that provide initial understandings for various science-related personal and societal challenges."
National Research Council, (NRC). 1996. National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. (pg. 138)