Science in the City

Jun 9, 2013

GroupWork Freebie Checklist Proven to Increase Responsibility

Depending upon the culture at your school, and the prior experiences of your students, when you start doing group work and projects, they may need to some scaffolding to help that process go smoothly. They may have trouble working together, or staying on task. 
One tool to do that is this freebie. Is it a simple checklist of what everyone in the group should be doing.  Its very basic, but seems to make a big difference with kids helping to keep each other on task.  It shifts some of the responsibility to them.  There is a spot for a team leader.  Its your choice if you want to designate a consistent team leader, or have it rotate.  
You may be very surprised at who is a good leader (and who likes to be a leader).  It might not be who you think!  
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Jun 5, 2013

"Real" Work and Milk Carton Recycling

One of the activities that I have done with my class that I am the most proud of is a milk carton recycling program that I did with my AP Environmental Science class 3 years ago.  I had a great group of girls, and we decided to enter to Lexus Ecochallenge.  They outline the steps to be taken pretty clearly, including identifying a real problem in the school or community where they could make a difference, and then implementing a plan.

After much discussion, we planned, and successfully implemented a plan to recycle the milk cartons at lunch. We worked with the cafeteria staff, the custodians, garbage collection, and the group that does the recycling.  We got buckets to rinse the cartons, worked out a way to clean and store the buckets.  We got special bags to put the milk cartons into, and developed a process to collect, clean, and store them until they were recycled.  We worked out a schedule for who worked which lunch periods. They really did it!  They carried through until the end of the school year.  In the end approximately 10,000 milk cartons were recycled by our small group!

Two other very cool parts of this project, besides the learning experience for my class was (1) the involvement of the principal. He was really excited and would often help out at lunch time. (2) the learning experience for the other students in the school. Since we were visible in the lunch room, other kids would often ask why we were collecting them. This led to kids from other lunch periods, or from breakfast, bringing cartons to my classroom. I got a box and would collect them there, then at lunchtime we would bring them down and put them with the others. It spread! Such a small step can really make a difference. I think the class learned on so many different levels. That's the kind of 'real' learning that's energizing and exciting to teach!

Jun 2, 2013

Earth Science Review Strategy Freebie For You

Here is a way that I like to review.  Click on the link to access the freebie.

This link goes to a document that I have created that walks students through using several different websites to review Earth Science.

It is specifically geared towards reviewing in the computer lab for Regents Earth Science (New York State), but could definitely be used in other Earth Science classes.

I like to use this on a fairly early day in the 'review' section of the course. It then allows students a chance to get familiar with the websites in a guided setting, and then take the directions home to study on their own, or earn extra credit (obviously the teacher's choice).  Students seem to like it because it allows them some control, and they can work at their own pace.

This could also be a great option for kids to use when they have extra time in library, tech, or other classes where they have computer access.

Hope it is helpful!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

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