Tuesday, September 22, 2015

#70/365 Learning can be messy! Today, we tackled an especially difficult concept in science, geologic time periods. We could just memorize the names of the time periods & complete research on the life that developed during those time periods. That is what I actually did last year. Granted, we had fun making posters about the time periods, and we had a great time outside completing chalk drawings. I even managed to work in augmented reality lessons in this unit of study. However, the overarching theme about the incredible vastness of our planets history, and the relative newness of life was not fully addressed. Students never fully comprehended the scale of the geologic time periods. They saw them as sequential events on a timeline without the great realization of how much time life has not existed on the planet. We also spent very little time questioning our understanding of the geologic time periods. We just accepted the information from the book, videos, and other resources. So, this year I took a little bit different approach. With my student teacher, we designed a lesson that would require students to organize the information from their research on the timeline before we went out to do the chalk activity. We didn't give them the background behind the dates of the eras, instead we used their own observations of the dates and math. We had them create the timeline on the interactive board as a team. What we noticed almost immediately was the failure to acknowledge these vast amounts of time. The students tried to spread everything out perfectly even. In each class, we had one or two students who made connections between billions & millions of years. They discussed how empty the timelines SHOULD be up until a certain point of crowded evolution. My student teacher said it best, when she said, "This is making me so uncomfortable. I just want to give them the answers!" My response was that like most inquiry based activities, this experience would mean so much more and last longer if they struggled and come to the realization on their own. Tomorrow will bring an even deeper understanding as they try to squish in the information on the chalk timeline.


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