Course Five; Blog Post 1
How did we get here?
It is so crazy to me that here we are starting our last course for COETAIL. I signed up to start in cohort 13 way back in November 2020, and suddenly it is February 2022! For so many years, I put off doing programs like this because it always seemed like such a big commitment and I wasn’t sure that I could handle doing something for so long.
Then one day while speaking to my mom, she said something that really helped me to change my perspective. She told me that time will pass no matter what and I might as well have a certificate to show for it. And even though it is totally aggravating to admit she was right, well, she was right. This past year has flown by and while it was tricky sometimes to manage courses and a full-time job, I am so happy that I did it!
What to write about?
For the first few weeks of the course, I really worried about choosing a topic for blog posts all on my own. I had fleeting thoughts here and there for ideas what I could write about, but they never really amounted to enough to make a whole blog about. Perhaps later I may just write a miscellaneous post to combine all of those smaller ideas. I think the problem was twofold. First of all, we were on vacation from the end of January to the start of February for the Lunar New Year. And secondly, the unit I had planned for the course 5 project didn’t start until February 14th. So I was feeling a little unmotivated.
Once we got back to school and we were able to actually start the unit, I was able to really focus on blog topics. For today, I want to share how my unit has started and the changes I have already decided to make.
The Energy Unit Begins!
This past week, my class and the other 4th-grade class at my school began our unit on Energy. This is the unit that I planned out for the course 4 final project, and the unit I will make my course 5 video about. The original plan is here.
As we began our work on this unit, I was feeling a little insecure about the summative task. I had a feeling that I could do a better job of meeting ISTE standards without it feeling so forced. So I sat down with my colleague to brainstorm a better end-of-unit project.
In the original plan, the students would choose their own topic or concept related to the energy standards from NGSS that we cover. Then they would drive their own learning by doing independent research to learn more about their chosen topic. Once they were an “expert” on their topic they would design an experiment to share with other students and their families at an Energy Summit, like a science fair.
While I still wanted to give my students agency and voice by allowing them to choose a topic to learn more about, I felt like we could use technology in a more transformative way. In the original plan, it felt more like a substitution for research in books.
During our brainstorming session, I was inspired by my favorite part of this unit, which is the fun and engaging hands-on experiments the students do by following Mystery Science lessons.
**Side Note – If you are interested in Mystery Science they are running a free promotion now. If you sign up now you have access until June 2022. **
That’s when we came up with the idea to have the students create their own Mystery Science-style experiment video. In the videos, the narrator, Doug, poses a question then shares information and facts to help students answer the question. For example, I will post a student link below for the second lesson we did in the unit; “What makes roller coasters go fast?”
After some explanation, there is a hands-on activity. It is great for the students because Doug walks them through step by step with simple directions and video modeling. Once the experiment is over, the students ponder the question again before Doug explains how it works.
The students absolutely love these lessons and I think after a few more they will understand the format and flow enough to create their own.
Even better, through my PLN I was able to connect with a few grade 4 classrooms in other IB schools around the world. We are setting up live calls and asynchronous messages for students at other schools to share with us what they have learned about energy and when our videos are complete, we will share them with our new buddy classes. In this way, my students will have an authentic audience, outside of their in-school peers and families, to share their learning with.
I won’t lie, I am pretty pumped with our new summative project. I feel it does a better job of meeting the ISTE standards I had planned for previously, but also there are now more standards being met. Through this activity students will be working toward standards 1.1 – Empowered Learner, 1.2- Digital Citizenship, 1.3- Knowledge Constructor, 1.6- Creative Communicator, and 1.7 – Global Collaborator.
With this adjustment, I feel a lot more enthusiastic about this unit and I am very excited to see what my students learn and create.
As my students say….”Let’s Go!”