Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cell Model Project

Last week (Friday) we completed our models of our cell. The class was broken into four groups in which two groups made an animal cell and two groups made a plant cell. We spent a week in class putting our models together including researching information to label our cells and building our models. While models are often the end product once they are completed, I felt that when a model is built, it should lead to further understanding.

Instead of the group models being the end product, students are using their models to create test questions for the other groups. In other words, the plant cell group is putting together a quiz for the animal cell group and the animal cell group is putting together a quiz for the plant cell group. Those groups will then use the other group's models to help them study for their quiz. To make sure each group can adequately prepare, the models need to be accurate in their detail and information.

The most important part of this project is not the results of the test but the building of the model and thinking about possible test questions. To create a test and provide answers, group members have to have thorough knowledge of their topic in order to produce test questions which are accurate and reflective of their understanding.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Expert Project

Today is our official first day of starting our expert project. Each student has a packet, and in that packet explains their whole project. For your information, here is a copy of the introduction letter. I am also including a copy of the rubric here.

Here at the Center for Inquiry, we believe that children should inquire into those things that matter to them. For this project, students will do just that - inquire into something they have always wanted to know more about. This project is more about the actual process of inquiry than having a final project. For instance, I have always wanted to know more about sushi. So I plan on inquiring into this topic from many different perspectives (e.g., history of sushi, different types, how to eat, how to make, sushi etiquette, culture). At the same time, I need to be open to possible directions my inquiry may take me (e.g., mathematics of sushi, science of sushi?). At the conclusion of this project, I need to be able to teach my students what I have learned. This project has created some very broad, very interesting topics including:

  • black holes
  • scary makeup
  • constellations
  • history of rap
  • racial cartoons
  • explosions and explosives
  • cars
  • roller derby
  • video games
  • ghosts
  • Nike
  • flying
  • birds
  • Empire State Building
  • Disney
  • Cave diving
  • sea cucumbers
  • guitars
  • piano
  • Madam C.J. Walker
  • skateboarding
  • Korean War
As students inquire, they will be asked to journal about their journey. In their packet, students will be asked to journal about what they learned each day. They need to record the resources they have used including websites, magazines, people, and books and whether they were valuable websites. They will be asked to record their questions. Periodically, students will be asked to reflect on what they have learned so far in their inquiry. At the conclusion, students will be asked to teach what they learned. Since we know good teaching involves more than just talking, students will be asked to create some kind of model, presentation, poster, book, video, etc. that will help them teach about their inquiry.

Today (Oct. 10) is our official start day of our expert project. The last day of the expert project will be Friday, October 28. Students will present their projects at Curriculum Night on Thursday, November 3.

I will continue sharing more about our expert project as we continue working through our inquiries.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Root Word Rap

Students wanted to share this video / rap. Mrs. Liz introduced us to this rap today as another way of helping us remember prefixes, root words, and suffixes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mr. Johnson's Class Blog

This is a brief video of our class working with our reading buddies. I have never witnessed two groups who work so well together. Those kindergarten buddies truly look up to these 5th graders. Very powerful!