Implementing the more classroom conversation is tough work but very rewarding. The biggest challenge is maintaining cognitive demand during the task. I'm having to build lessons and tasks that can engage students in multiple ways.
Their investigation challenge was to experimentally "prove" the conservation of mass. Our starting point was the NGSS PE that requires students to develop and use a model to explain how atoms are conserved in a chemical reactions which took us back to "remembering" what a model actually was. We used Padlet to imagine what models of laws might look like. The SmartBoard was invaluable to this moving of ideas around until we had them sorted and categorized.
My favorite part of this lesson was that students brainstormed a bunch of things they recalled doing throughout the year. As they sorted through their ideas, they realized that some of them weren't models. Some classes chose to modify the wording of their brainstorm suggestion so that it was a model, but one class made a new category. Things that aren't models.
That made me laugh. And it made me know that everyone was working at a strong cognitive load.
Other classes categorized in this way and they are still deciding about where a diagram belongs.
Formative assessment is a process. Don't forget that. You have to design the process into the learning.
I forget that. But it's so true and it's really the fun part of teaching. It's the measuring how students are doing on learning whatever you're teaching, then figuring out what's next. And to best deliver the "what's next".
I'm applying what I learned to MS PS1-5 which is all about conservation of mass. Originally I'd designed the lesson to use a PheT simulation on balancing equations. After listening to Ms. Heritage and re-reading the NGSS standards, I realized I was putting the emphasis too much on an algorithm and not enough on the experience of running an experiment, putting together lab results of the whole class and finding a way to generalize the collective experience.
I also realized I needed to build in lots more checkpoints. Ms. Heritage's work brought me back into focus.
So I'm going to show them some awesome models of people testing out the idea that the reactants cumulative mass will be the same as the products mass. Then instead of plowing ahead, I'll wait and do some processing where students will "remember" the scientific method, pointing out where these examples used it well and where they would improve.
This checkpoint, or formative assessment, will let me see if student really remember how to design an experiment. Something we've been doing again and again. If they are ready to go, we'll move onto student designed experiments to if the amount of mass changes from the beginning to the end of an experiment.
The standards call for students to build a model in thinking about this. It's my intention for them to use the evidence they generate from these experiments to build their own model for the Conservation of Mass. More about that later.
Blend a marketing meeting with an evangelical church atmosphere with passionate people who want to change the world....and you'll have last night's KC Startup Weekend EDU Friday Night Pitch Session. Brave, amazing people stood up and had one minute to describe the educational problem they wanted to solve.