I love testing season....the school goes to block schedule and I get to experiment with new class structures. Science needs more than 43 minutes in order to get anything done.
This year I'm trying "centers" with my 8th graders. Sort of sounds like elementary school doesn't it? But I've tried to ramp it up and make the scarce resources go far.
I only have enough lab equipment for 3 groups...and every class I have has at least 7 groups. Centers allow me to setup 3 lab tables. I divided the lab into 3 pieces and at each station do they do part of the whole lab. I also have only 2 student computers in my classroom. With stations, I was able to partner worksheets with simulations.
Here's what I did.....the worksheet helps students see how a pendulum's movement looks like on a graph. It gives them about 10 practice problems. Once they are done with that, I send them off to the PBS Learning Media website simulation about a wave's amplitude.
They could test out what they practiced on the worksheet and use the simulation to see if they were right.
Centers have solved lots of problems....I can do labs with only 3 setups and I can use computer simulations with only 2 computers. Centers also allow me more time to circulate and give more one-on-one help.