I do have a hidden agenda with with this: Student schedule are liquid until about the 3rd week and I do not want to start on the meat of the curriculum with kids coming and going. This project is a nice review and if a student misses a part of they can be added to a group and move along on the project.
BEING OFF STAGE: Today's task in class was to tally the 200 pieces of data collected the 1st day of school in the questionnaire, cut into separate pieces and sorted into numbered beakers on the 2nd day, questions chosen and introduction written the 3rd day and tally today (the forth day). Tally day takes them most of the period (we are on 88 minute blocks) to tally. I take a few minutes to have them make their hypothesis and set up the data table for fast tallying. I show them how to tally. Often students want to sort and then count, which is a no-no, it takes too much time. But today I had about an hour (okay 42 minutes) of OFF STAGE time to update grades and do other house keeping items.
I get jealous of my colleagues when I walk in their classes and students are quietly working on some task and the teacher is sitting at their desk doing...something. In my room while I'm teaching I am usually walking around keeping kids on task, doing the lab properly, helping them set up their graph (often for the 10th time). How do you run a class with out direct interaction ALL THE TIME. I think the answer is READING...a good teacher wont be talking if students are working on a reading assignment...duh. I'm going to try this....ah I can't. I want the kids doing labs not book work. I AM HAUNTED BY THE MY FIRST WORDS OF DIRECTION FROM MY FIRST ADMINISTRATOR: "Make them like science and want to take more in High School". Lab and group projects and cool demo's usually require ON STAGE teaching.
I did get about 45 minutes of down time each period today and it was nice to see the students on task, talking and laughing and voicing interest in a data point they thought unique or interesting. If someone would have walked in my room and looked they would have thought, " My, what a good and easy class you have...they work by themselves and you don't have to do anything". I LOVE ANALOGIES: a ship moving down the Panama canal looks calm and serene almost letting you forget the years and lives and suffering and cost it took to make that tranquil transit happen. Same for that well run class, the class that looks like the kids do work by themselves, the itinerant visitor may not see the effort and planning that went into the lesson.
I have a colleague, a semi frequent itinerant visitor to my class during his prep period, that saw how I ran my Honors class. Later, after I went to a new school, he thought that the honors class was easy to teach...just tell them what to do and they do it. He met with some frustration that year.
Well, I hope you try this project, visit my school website and go to the CSTA folder or the NOTES AND MAJOR ASSIGNMENTS folder for my materials.
Love to Teach and Teach with Passion
It's not Magic, It's Science