A colleague of mine, Kit Pennell, gave me a great idea. I am teaching two 8th grade life science classes and I’ve been looking for opportunities to get my students to generate questions they are interested in learning about. Luckily we have a nice park within walking distance of the school and it even has some trails with our neighborhood creek running through it!
Kit told me that she takes kids out with notebooks to record observations in nature. And while writing about what they see they also write down any questions that arise! Brilliant! Back in class we can share the questions and see what to learn about next.
So I tried it. I asked my admin and made permission slips and picked a day. I had heard from our high school biology teacher that she takes her classes there and they can get there and be back in one period so I scheduled it for one period. The day I chose was beautiful but rather cold so kids complained about the cold because they weren’t bundled up enough. (Of course. 🙂 )
What I didn’t see were questions we could explore deeply or questions that could determine a new project for us to explore. So I had my 8th graders blog about their experience and to look for answers to their questions. See their blogs here.
It was, IMHO, a fun activity and did lead to kids searching for answers to their questions. That’s always a good thing because I can point out when Google, or Yahoo Answers, or Wiki Answers, or Cha Cha, are just plain wrong and I can also point out the golden nuggets of truth we often find. I also ask them all to verify what they learn by looking for other sources that either agree or refute their first search results. All in all a pretty good activity. But I wanted a new project for my students to sink their teeth into so I’ve created a Google Form to get them thinking about some aspect of plants to learn about. Here’s the form they’ll be using to plan their project. And here’s the prezi I made to introduce the project (I made the prezi to remind them how prezi’s work).
We’ll see how their projects turn out! I’m expecting great things. 🙂