When reflecting on Tyler DeWitt’s thoughts of teaching science through relevant, student-friendly stories, I thought I’d share a project I created with a similar vision in mind. I wholeheartedly agree that science must be accessible to students, especially my students who have entered the middle school classroom with limited prior knowledge and negative opinions of what science is.
Children should also have the opportunity to tell science stories whether it be reflecting on experiences, recording observations and analysis of experimentation, or demonstrating their understanding through narrative writing. During a sixth grade science unit on energy, students were assigned a performance assessment entitled, “An Energetic Tale.” We could have easily done a traditional test to assess understanding of state science benchmarks, but instead students retold their favorite fairy tales imbedding examples of potential and kinetic energy. The final drafts were vibrantly illustrated and well written with perfect examples various types of energy.
Projects would not have been so successful without appropriate scaffolding.
- Provide students with a friendly rubric and explain expectations.
- Review what a fairy tale is. Generate a student friendly definition and record examples of our favorite tales.
- You may even need to watch a video clip of a popular fairy tale or do a read aloud to activate prior knowledge. Yes, some of my middle schoolers needed that. http://www.speakaboos.com/theme/fairy-tales/
- Write and read an example.
- Utilize writing workshop…Yes, it works even in a science classroom. http://pinterest.com/amylvanderwater/writing-workshop-ideas/
- Provide a template or brainstorming strategy.
- Go through the shared writing process.
- Allow plenty of in class time for drafting.
- Allow time to share final drafts. No clapping, snaps only!