Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Students Teaching Students

Students have decided on how they want to share their knowledge this year and will be creating two iTunes U courses, Health EDU and Basics of Anatomy.  

The first course, Health EDU, will attempt to educate society on how to improve health habits.  Each week, participants will be given a challenge, such as altering their diet to exclude certain components like soda, HFCS, or artificial sweeteners. Some challenges will be more fitness based, such as try to add 10-15 minutes on your current walk or run, actually start exercising, or try a new type of workout. Other challenges will be focused on mental health and how to reduce stress. Each challenge will include student created educational material (iBooks, tutorial videos, etc.) that help convince the course subscribers and participants of the WHY behind the challenge.

The second course, the Basics of Anatomy, is being developed for the Oceans Project, and really anyone who wants to subscribe and learn about the body.  The Oceans Project foundation is raising money to give iPads to students in developing nations to improve global education.  My students will be creating a course to teach children in these developing nations exactly how their body works. So far, we have the following sections set up:  how things work, the limitations of the body, grossology, and try this at home.  We are still brainstorming ideas of components to add to this course.

With both courses, students are learning how to maintain personal health and then taking that information and sharing it with others to try to improve the overall wellness of our society.

Courses should be up and ready for release sometime in December...

We are still working on the course names and art...suggestions are appreciated! :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Learning Stations

This post is really late!  I think we discussed this in the #scitlap chat one night and I promised to write a post about how I use stations in secondary science.

Since my classroom is blended, students are always learning at their own pace.  There are very few times that everyone is doing the same thing at the same time.  The use of learning stations for labs really increases efficiency and allows the learners to not feel rushed to keep up with their peers.

I typically set up the week like this one, when we learned about the bones.

Link to the actual activity in full text

You can see a few of their final products in our class portfolio.

The following week, we start muscles and do stations for each of the posed questions:

Link to the actual activity in full text

The muscle section is more of a lab style assignment.  For each question posed at a station, they must figure out how to answer it using the materials provided.  Some stations incorporate Pasco probeware or force grips and others have them identifying muscles by determining how physical therapy devices are used.

After they finish both bones and muscles learning stations, they determine which project they want to complete for the six weeks.  The project overall goal is to create informational material to help society as they begin a healthy lifestyle.  Project choices take the knowledge they have gained from the stations above and determine what from that is necessary for the public to know in order to be safe working out, how to avoid injuries, or how to not listen to biased media claims. Some students will choose a project that requires them to develop a lab investigation, while others will choose a more research based project.  There is also the option to design your own project.  Project options can be viewed in my iTunes U course under Exercise Physiology.

As a class, students are currently building their own course in iTunes U to challenge society to make better lifestyle choices regarding health and wellness.  So ultimately, whichever project option they choose, the product they create is to inform and educate our course subscribers.  All learner created products could potentially be published in this course, which will be released later this semester.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ebola Infographics

After 2 days of non-stop questions on Ebola, I decided to stop talking about bones and muscles and instead, focus on the current issues in Dallas.  Texas Presbyterian Hospital is less than 20 minutes away from our school, so our students are very concerned.

We started today by answering these questions as a class:
What is Ebola?
Where did it come from?
How did it get here?

We reviewed the facts that we know and the most current information we had, which actually changed throughout the day as they announced they were moving the nurse to the NIH.

I had the students compare the protocols from the CDC and the WHO and we watched Dr. Sanjay Gupta show us how easy it can be to contaminate when removing PPE.

I then did a basic Q and A and we looked up answers to the questions we did not know or were unsure of.  I hope that I helped clear up a lot of misconceptions and fears during this time....no, a Texas town has not been quarantined, and no there is no such thing as an Ebola zombie.

Next we decided to take the Open IDEO challenge of "How might we rapidly equip and empower the care community to fight Ebola?"  We reviewed some of the posted research and tried to come up with ideas on how we can help.  Our ideas will be posted in the next few days, after we review and edit them.  One of my students (who is super awesome), already posted his idea.  Give him an applaud or comment!

We are doing some initial brainstorming on this Google Moderator to define our ideas before posting to the Open IDEO.  Feel free to add to the moderator, vote for your favorites, or have your kids comment on any posts.   You will need a Google account to comment and please put your location so we know where you are from.

Our next step is to discuss how we can decrease the stress that is occurring in our community.  My suggestion will be to create researched based infographics to help the general public understand the facts regarding Ebola.  I will recommend the use of Canva to create the infographic, but will leave it up to the student on how they want to inform the public.

If you students want to take this challenge with us, we would love to collaborate with you.  I will publish the best of student work into our class portfolio and link it into our iTunes U class to provide a large authentic audience.

Here is the rubric I am working on now -- feel free to give me some feedback on it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Assessment Challenge

If you have read anything on this blog, you would know that I am not a huge fan of standardized or traditional testing.  I typically like the "show me what you know in any format you choose", but sometimes I just want to know where they all are content wise.

Here is one way I assess student learning:  the "Test"

My test today is 22 questions - multiple choice, free response, and identification of structure and function of the digestive system.  It is set up in Blackboard, our LMS.

The first 15 minutes, students take the test traditional style - by themselves, no notes, no Google.  The purpose of this 15 minutes - for them to test themselves. What do they know?  What do they feel confident about? What are they unsure about?  What do they have no ideas on?

After 15 minutes, the test is open resource - Google, notes, iTunes U, Life on Earth book, and a partner.  This is the cool part --- they analyze every question and discuss why they answered the way they did. They defend why they answered the way they did.  They try to determine which person is more confident in the answer and consult with Google.  Here are some comments I heard today:

"I am confused about the insulin and resistin question, what did you have in your notes on that?"

"Wait, that website you are on is a blog, lets check a more credible site to make sure we are right."

"Oh that makes so much more sense."

What I observed:
Kids were having conversations about science and explaining things to each other. They were 100% focused for the entire 50 minute class period and the test took the entire period.  They were listening to each other and processing information in a way they would never do with a scantron test by themselves.

If they took this test alone the traditional way, they would have been done in 20 minutes, guessing at the ones they didn't know and forgetting about it as soon as they left the room.

I also discovered that they have a misunderstanding of one of the questions and the majority of them will probably miss it - and I know why.  I will toss that question out. Without their conversations, I would have known a lot missed that one, but wouldn't have understood how they interpreted the question differently than I intended.

The questions on the test are not memorization style questions.  They are all application types that really can't be directly Googled. They can Google a lot of information, but if they truly do not comprehend the content, they can't answer the questions.

What are they learning:
Collaboration, proper research skills, and other "working together" type of things.  More importantly, they are learning to really learn and how to problem solve.

The Challenge!
I challenge you to assign one assessment this way and see what you think.  Let me know how it goes. :)