- Please describe what outcomes both for yourself and your students that you wish to achieve by participating in PlantingScience. About half of the students took part in our C-fern module last year as 6th graders. This year, in 7th grade, I want to expand the research part of the exploration by giving them a challenge with no additional information. I am hoping to encourage research, questioning (of mentors), and problem solving skills.
- What is the name of the course you are teaching. I teach 7th grade comprehensive science. The two classes that will participate this fall will be my lowest groups. We do not include any significant plant curriculum, outside of plant and animal cell comparisons, in middle school science in Florida. Nor do we focus on any real inquiry in our science classrooms. This will serve as an introduction to scientific exploration – presentation of a problem, creation of a hypothesis, and conducting experimentation.
- How much have you taught regarding plants and photosynthesis prior to starting this investigation? Are you using this to reinforce concepts already learned or more of a discovery tool for generating ideas about photosynthesis/respiration? We had addressed photosynthesis last year, but our exploration this year will take my students beyond the curriculum.
Important dates and times:
- Please estimate your start date (must be after session start 9/26 Fall).
Your start date is the day your students first login online, with your pre-selected username and password. Please estimate your end date.
I am thinking October 3 through November 8.
- Are there timeframes during your class inquiry the students will not access the website, such as school breaks? (Please note this in the calendar for your groups.)
Thanks to Irma, I anticipate no time off during the month of October.
- Class meeting time(s): What time and which day(s) of the week does your class meet?
These classes meet every morning, M-F, for 55 minutes. One full day each week will be devoted to the project as well as 1-2 fifteen minute periods of classes during the week. They will have website access every class period.
Classroom demographics and expectations:
- Science background and language skills.
Please relay any details about your student population that would help the mentors communicate with your teams. For example, do they have exceptionally high motivation, little previous science experience, or include a large proportion of English as a second language (ESL) speakers? What are the first language(s) of your ESL students?
At present I have 53 students, who will be divided into 14 teams as we start the project…….however…….we are way over student expectations in 7th grade and have been given permission to hire another teacher creating 3 new 7th grade science classes. So I may end up losing as many as 10 of these students in the next 1-2 weeks.
Students are enthusiastic, and those I had last year (about half) worked in the PlantingScience C-fern module in the fall a year ago. The rest have relatively no inquiry or solid scientific controlled-lab experience. Writing skills are rudimentary, with many sitting well below grade average. One group will be created having better Spanish written communication skills than English.
- Is there additional information you think would be helpful to mentors (e.g., access to equipment, your class expectations)? This will be their first experience with true inquiry. I will lay out the problem but offer no solutions and no suggestions. They may use the library and Internet for research, and I will fully expect the mentors will be asked, point blank, how do I make the celery curl???
I am looking for mentors to help guide their research and experimental design. (I will be awarding gift cards to the winning team based on the greatest curling, and on providing an explanation as to why their experimental design worked.) I do not want the students to be given answers, but, rather, led to use what they should know about plant cells to build their research so they can plan what, and how, to test.
Students have a question…..they will need to do some research to form a hypothesis, and then design a controlled lab to test it! Mentors….they need….a mentor to guide them but not tell them how to conduct the research (what the “right” kinds of questions might be), and ultimately, how to design the test. If time needs are significant, I can keep this running in my classroom until Christmas break, even after the online portion has finished….so don’t feel the need to rush.