Thursday, July 7, 2011

Using New Tools To Obtain Deeper Understanding

Taking the Toughest...Let's Work Together

In fifth grade science, one of my toughest concepts to explore with my students is the Earth/Space Science concepts of day/night and seasonal cycles. I understand their dilemma. These concepts are really hard to visualize. I mean, seriously, we are ON the giant ball that is rotating, revolving, and tilting as it dances it's merry way along space. So, for a 9-10 year old, I can understand the difficulty.

In the past, I have gone from just reading about the cycles and filling in diagrams and multiple choice questions to stepping it up with models and students acting out motions. We've used claymation movie making. We've colored posters. I've started to incorporate the PocketEarth app for even more opportunities to visualize the process. And, so on. (To be honest, my methods have changed through the years as I have gained more of an understanding of the topics themselves and how my students learn best.)

So, this year I'm looking at another approach...using Twitter, Edmodo, Skype and the iPad2 to facilitate a deeper understanding of the topic. And, I'm hoping to partner with some dynamite classes out there!

Long term strategy-
Ss take picture of sunrise each morning from same spot at school at same time with iPad2. These images will then get uploaded into a google presentation for an accumulated set of photos. Setting the play mode to a short duration, Ss should observe that the position of the sun changes as the seasons continue. This same activity will be done by partner class in southern hemisphere. Comparing the position of the sun should help students see the difference in planet's position. (While this photo taking activity is being conducted, another goal of long term investigations will be highlighted. BONUS!)
Ss will also track the amount of hours of daylight and darkness for each day to see the transition.
Edmodo, Twitter, and Skype will allow us to continue the conversations and observations made in class. Utilizing these medium, will allow us to make the connections around the world. Ss will not be limited to just imagining the changing seasons, cycle of day/night, and shifts around the globe, they will have FRIENDS to connect with and share observations.
With all other data, our google presentation will be shared with the partner class.

Will I continue to use my models, posters, iPad app, and Ss actions...probably! But, now, I can add to the understanding by connecting them to other students.

And, HOPEFULLY, this project will lead to other partnerships including an ecosystem/estuary project, a physical science activity exploring how light, sound, heat, and electricity work in various objects, and more!

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