Monday, December 9, 2013

Supporting learning

Part of what I do to support learning in the classroom is to create resources to help students think about their assessment tasks, to break down the elements, help them define what needs to be done and to help them with key words. I do like using comic life as a tool to do this - it is refreshing, visual and does not allow too much text.

Over the past few weeks I have been working with year 7 on MYP Science One world essay  'Mixtures that changed the world". When I was asked to be part of the classes I did not have an opportunity to be part of the planning as it already had been done, so I had to do something to help after the planning.

I downloaded the assignment task sheet, and completed the assignment as instructed, noting down the steps required to accomplish it. I also kept track of the best places I found information using google and the keywords that brought back the best results. From these sites, I created a Google custom search to accompany this unit.

From this activity I created a simple 'Figuring it out" scaffold where the students are asked simple questions about the task itself. When teaching to it, we are going through the task requirements at the same time. The class teacher is on hand to answer some of the questions like "how long should it take?"and "when am I expected to do this task?" Doing this really makes the students read the task and rubric properly to find out what they really need to be doing. This was refined over a few classes, and will be continued to be refined.

The next step was to talk about keywords, synonyms, concepts and related terms and to pull these out of the task sheet to help them with their searching. This seemed to be quite challenging for the students, even though they have done keywords previously, actually using the task sheet and rubric seemed to be a new challenge.

I also created a scaffold task where the task was broken down and chunked into smaller questions. The teacher really liked this and found it an easy way to see what the students were thinking, researching, and doing very easily. They needed to do the first two 'boxes' for homework and then work through it to complete the task. 

I also introduced Diigo to the class to use as a curation tool in their quest, and Google advanced search and showed the class how to access the google custom search I created so they could spend less time searching. Some will always go to big google, so introducing them the Google advanced search, they have at least a better opportunity to retrieve quality sites. Exploring Science databases will be the next step.

This was in an 80 minute lesson - action packed for sure and not ideal, but at the moment I take what I get and work it.

I was in the follow up lesson and was able to see how the students had used or were using the tools, and most had. I briefly introduced the CRAP test to them, this will require more in depth follow up, but for now it has alerted them to things to watch out for.

Hopefully I will be invited back !

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