Redo, again…

A staple of most physical science curricula is the element research project.  Students get an element and research various facts including properties and history of the element.  I’ve been doing some type of element project for years.  My first year of teaching I came across a project tucked in a file cabinet: Element Album Cover.  The project had students do research and creatively turn the element into a rock band or singer.  I adapted it and turned it into a CD cover project.  Later I used Glogster to have students make a musical group “web-page.”  Glogster became a pay site a few years ago and since then I’ve been stuck.


I also debate the merit of the project at all.  What do students get out of it?  From a standards viewpoint there is little point in doing it at all.  They don’t need to know about any element in detail.  A project like this takes a great deal of time and effort researching and constructing.  That time could be spent doing any number of other things that more directly attack the standards/core.  I’m now at the do or die point with this project.  I either have to revamp the project again or ditch it completely.


I’ve been thinking of doing a writing project.  I’d like to use something like Boomwriter or Storybird, but I’m having trouble getting my mind around what I want students to do and learn.  I want that writing and literacy piece.  Doing internet searches have turned up nothing useful yet.  PowerPoints are over done and mainly involve students just copying and pasting things off the internet.  That and PowerPoint is a visual medium and I want this to involve creative writing.  Here’s hoping something will come up.  If not, though, I’ll just ditch it and move on.


Thoughts on TPTs

My student teacher has started to incorporate some different Total Participation Techniques into her planning.  She was stuck on using only Cold Call and a few other questioning techniques.  I wanted her to try out some others like Think-Pair-Share and Reader’s Marks.  We were reminded of how the application of these techniques is far more challenging than suggested by the authors who promote them.  There are so many nuances in the classroom that these techniques need to be tweaked for.  For instance, Reader’s Marks are really no good to us as a participation technique if we only discover after the fact that some students weren’t actually reading at all.  She had them complete a reading using Reader’s Marks individually.  In pairs where students take turns reading we can actively tell if they are reading the text or not and students can help identify key words and main ideas together.  It is in combination that these techniques are the most powerful.  The use of literacy strategies WITH a TPT brings out the best in both.  As we work through a few more techniques I’ll post, but overall getting them to work smoothly is still elusive.