Monday, July 30, 2012

Creating content, or what? Part 2

So, I hit submit on the previous blog post, Creating content, or what? and thought, "Wow. I'm glad I got that off my chest!" Seriously, I thought of how many times I have sped through the science to get to the tech, and I'm a little disappointed in myself. I'm robbing my students of some true science experiences by being so focused on the tech & product building.

But, I don't think I always do this...
I think I have set the stage (at times) for my students to experience science more in line with Apple's Challenge Based Learning. I'm not doing it wrong ALL the time. :)

So, thinking a little more about this, I decided to find an example of each in my most previous year. I'm going to highlight instructional practices in which I approached content creation incorrectly and correctly.

Topic: Exploring potential & kinetic energy
  • I began by demonstrating various toys showing potential vs. kinetic energy. (Did you catch that I?)
  • We watched a brain pop about potential and kinetic energy.
  • We followed up with a short passage from the book.
  • We watched another couple cartoon like videos about potential and kinetic energy...maybe a Bill Nye.
  • Then, I asked the kids to create a cartoon strip showing potential and kinetic energy. Enter...ipad project. (We used Strip Designer app...which is an awesome app!)

Potential & Kinetic Period 2

What I noticed in my students' projects:
  • very repetitive examples used (mainly the toys that I demonstrated or the examples in the video)
  • very few/if any real world examples (from their experiences)
  • rushed drawings...little detail
  • some incomplete
  • minimal/if any descriptions of science
So, yep. That would be wrong! There was no content creation. There was very little content understanding. Why? The learning was doomed from the start. My goals were focused on the WRONG aspects.
(I would love a DO OVER with that lesson!)

Topic: Future Exploration Vehicles for NASA
My ultimate goal with this exploration was to encourage students to use what they knew about NASA, space exploration history, and our solar system to design the next vehicle for NASA to use to explore. ( Curiosity is the next.) I wanted to combine research skills, beginning engineering skills, team work/negotiation, and electrical wiring (simple circuits) during this project.
So...the CHALLENGE was set. The materials were dumped in the middle of the room (Legos, wiring materials, and more). And, the students were given the choice of creating a Keynote or iMovie to document their vehicle (what it was, where it was going, who built it, what it would study, et).

Here is a link to my 2nd period science class projects. You will have to scroll half way down the page to get to the projects.

When I look through these projects, I see a HUGE difference!
  • Personal...These kids really bought into this content. They made this rover, satellite, or space station uniquely theirs.
  • Depth- They researched what NASA has already done by utilizing various apps (like the wicked cool NASA app) and sites.
  • Polished- From their mission badges to the vehicle itself, the kids invested time in doing it right!
  • Content- It was not regurgitated information. The variety and details are all from self-driven research.

So, setting the stage for true content creation for ME means having that open challenge, not being so rushed for the product, being supportive of the process, and being patient with the tech integration. If it is to be done well, the students will need the stage set correctly.

Any ideas?

1 comment:

  1. Wow - I what a great reflection of your practice. It takes courage to admit when we do something incorrectly. But more than that - you looked at how you did something correctly and will build your lessons from that wonderful example. After reading your "kinetic energy" example, I realize I too, have made similar mistakes in science this year. In the end, these kids made some fabulous products but with 'regurgitated' information.

    Thank you for sharing a great example of the 'correct' way. Looking at that it is easy to see how the students were motivated into doing their best work. It really shows how to incorporate technology as a tool rather than as an add-on.

    I'm always learning from you - thank you for your honesty and your reflections as they are so helpful to others.