I will be implementing my ImagineIT project at Prieto Academy where I teach Earth Science to four sections of 6th grade students. Sixth grade is departmental and each period is one hour long and meets every day. Prieto Academy serves a 97% low income population with 40% English learners and 18% diverse learners. Throughout my time at Prieto, I have been using the Issues and Earth Science and Investigating Earth Systems curricula to guide my planning. Over the years, I have been able to incorporate many additional activities and resources into my Earth Science teaching. My science classroom comes equipped with a Promethean board, 5 desktop computers and 2 iPads. I am able to check out the 6th grade iPad cart approximately one time per week.
My big idea is: How can we use the art of processes in earth science to understand the scale of the universe? In the article, Teaching for Aesthetic Understanding, I was inspired by the ideas of unseeing, re-seeing and changing perspectives. I am interested in utilizing strategies that encourage students to discover beauty in natural processes and an appreciation for the scale of such processes. I will explicitly use aesthetic understanding to guide my teaching as we uncover each new unit of study. Students will begin to see earth’s processes in their everyday lives and make connections to their new learning.
Multimodal composition products will be used at the end of each unit as performances of understanding. My Deep Play group is exploring multimodal composition and I would like to experiment with various formats such as podcasts (https://www.podomatic.com ), blogs (http://kidblog.org/home/ ), collages (https://www.picmonkey.com/#go/collage), videos, comic strips, and storyboards (http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/tools/storyboard/) to represent natural processes with special attention to the scale of such processes as they relate to time and space. Students will be assessed based on their ability to use multiple modalities to express their new understandings.
My first unit, Studying Soil Scientifically, serves as an introduction to the habits of a scientist. This year, I plan to present the 8 practices of science and engineering as a process. I want students to see the practices as a natural cycle that becomes part of the way they see and interpret their world. Students explore soil composition, decomposition and the nutrient cycle in this unit. I would like students to be able to use an olloclip macro lens to be able to make detailed observations.
Rocks and Minerals follows with mineral identification, rock formation and the rock cycle. Students will explore the understanding that rocks are very old and change slowly over time. Using the multimodal composition process, students will construct and explain models of the processes involved in the rock cycle. For example, students could create a dance routine that incorporates images, gestures and action to demonstrate their understanding.
The next unit, Fossils, focuses on fossil formation and geologic time. Students will come to appreciate that the earth is billions of years old and humans are just a tiny part of geologic time. Students will showcase their understanding by creating narratives of the geologic time scale. Students could create a sidewalk graph or use stop motion video or objects to represent major events in geologic time. Using the continuous story improv game, students could fill in events in order from earth’s formation to the appearance of modern humans.
The Plate Tectonics unit will lead to the understanding that the earth has a slowly changing surface by studying earthquakes, volcanoes and mountain building. Students will construct and interpret models of different types of plate motion perhaps using claymation to produce a stop motion movie about mountain building.
My ideas for the Weather unit are inspired directly from the Girod reading. Students will understand that all weather and atmospheric changes are a result of energy going toward equilibrium. In demonstrating molecular movement, students would take part in a water molecule “dance party”. I love the metaphor that the atmosphere is an ocean of air. Just the mere description of the activity has left a lasting impression on me.
Lastly, we end the year Exploring Our Solar System and coming to the understanding that the distances and sizes of space objects are vast. Students will be able to explore remote data collection and rovers by using Lego NXT technology.
Throughout each unit, I will employ a structured inquiry approach allowing students to use their existing knowledge to make connections which lead to the discovery of new concepts. Systematically, students will be presented with investigations which will slowly expose them to new content and big ideas. Through data collection and the analysis of their results, students will begin to develop new understandings about natural processes. At the end of each unit, students will have the opportunity to explore topics of their interest and to use various modalities to express their new understandings. Using technologies to demonstrate content learning about topics of their selection will pave the way to students seeing the art in natural processes around them.