My big idea that links with the ImagineIT project will be Communicating Discovery in Math and Science. Students have difficulty explaining their ideas and thoughts when they are asked to explain their process of thinking. Having a deep understanding of how students solve problems in math and support their answers with their explanations is vital. Explanations will help educators realize if their students have a conceptual understanding of the topic at hand. In terms of science, I would like to implement multimodal communication within the classroom to provide several outlets of students' thinking. My goal is to provide students with several tools and different opportunities to express their thinking.
Performances of Understanding:
In terms of the performances I will seek out to understand my students’ understanding will vary. There will be several opportunities for students to provide me with a sense of their understandings. Students may use Chromebooks (google apps), iPads, recording pens, videos, songs, writing, etc. to provide me with evidence of their understanding. I would love to implement a “aha” jar to lead students to write on strips of paper any ideas they have unveiled throughout the year. I plan on implementing journals to allow students to reflect on their experiences throughout the day in hopes of students unveiling newer discoveries. Demonstrating understanding in a way is vital. In the beginning of the school year I will implement a survey to determine commonalities of their ways to present and share ideas. I plan on building communication skills in order for students to properly share their discoveries. One way I plan on building communication skills will be implementing several presentations in order for students to take in their projects and findings seriously. Once students begin sharing their findings, they will be able to elaborate on their ideas.
Plan Learning Experience & Instruction
This year will be my very first year working with 3rd grade. I teach at Belding Elementary School in Old Irving Park in which is comprised of approximately 600 students speaking over 25 different languages. As far as what I have previewed, this year will be the very first year that students are given a grade for Science (with respect to grades K-2). In terms of the time that is available to teach Science, there is an hour block each week for each 3rd grade class. I will be working with both 3rd grade classes to ensure that students are provided with equal materials. For my ImagineIT project I will be working with two 3rd grade classes totaling 54 students. Many of these students have not been exposed to STEM related curriculum. The affordances that I will have within the classroom is the ability to adapt my lessons that are related to the FOSS kits. We will be working on three branches of science: physical science, earth science, and life science. Students will be focusing on: sound, water, rock, sun, moon, and stars along with a biology unit. Some of the constraints I foresee is the limitation on time. Given the scheduled time of science being limited to one hour a week, it will be challenging to build upon lessons without students possibly not remembering the lessons prior. I will try embedding some science materials within my literacy block in order to get best of both worlds.
In my experience within the elementary grades, I have noticed that students tend to struggle with explaining their thoughts verbally and in writing. What I would like to do is implement multimodal communication to embed newer ways of expressing their thoughts and ideas. I plan on uncovering many misconceptions when it comes to utilizing certain math tools and science tools to unveil a deeper understanding of the topics at hand. The content areas that students will be working on in Science will be: water, sound, rock, sun, moon and stars. Students tend to struggle with the stars and constellations that appear in the same place in the sky every night. Another common misconception is the sun rises exactly in the east and sets exactly in the west every day. Students have also struggled with seasons because of their understand that the Earth's changing distance from the Sun (closer in the Summer, farther in the Winter). In terms of the areas in Math, fraction equivalencies and understanding multiplication and division of whole numbers are areas in which students tend to have difficulties. I would like to have my students find several ways to determine their answers in order to confidently communicate their findings. My goal is to have my students provide me with a window to their conceptual understanding in any format they feel most comfortable. Students will be able to express their ideas and findings in a form of communication they feel most comfortable with. The problems that can possibly occur could be the amount of time it takes students to present or communicate their findings. Due to the limited time I have with my students for science I must come up with an action plan that will allow students to become efficient on time. Another possible issue could be the amount of technology available to students. I have 4 ChromeBooks and 4 Dell laptops. There are cameras and recording devices on the ChromeBooks only. My plan is to borrow ChromeBooks from my colleagues during this time period and also write grants to receive more pieces of technology.
With respect to my pedagogical approach I see my classroom as an environment in which I connect my students’ interests within my teaching. I enjoy linking lessons to real-world learning to ensure that students are both creative and in an authentic environment for learning. Student-centered learning will become very apparent as the year rolls out. I plan on having students work in groups, have science discussions on the carpet, I will introduce public review of projects and findings, and also service learning projects. Students will be participating in a WE service learning project in which students will gain an understanding of the root causes of many pressing issues in the world such as poverty and lack of education. I also plan on inviting speakers in to discuss topics that my students have expressed interest in. Having lectures and discussions are both great ways to have students immerse themselves in their curiosities of the topics at hand. There will be many opportunities provided to allow students to compose questions of their own and they will be responsible for producing a plan to carry out to find the answers to their questions. I will facilitate the connection of students discovering ideas on their own by offering Genius Hour and several means of multimodal communication. Their might be constraints along the way due to technology limitations and limitations on time with Science due to scheduling. I plan on implementing a possible thematic unit with Science and Reading in order to double up on time. The goal is to cultivate a creative mind-set in which students are intrinsically motivated to question and wonder on their own. Collaboration is very much valued within my classroom to encourage intellectual risks. Students are more prone to think outside the box when in group settings in order to elaborate on certain ideas/findings.
In terms of technology, as I’ve stated earlier, I have 4 ChromeBooks and 4 Dell laptops. Technology will be limited, however this will bring upon opportunities for students to do research in groups. Students will also have voice recording devices to record possible poems, songs, or lectures of their findings. My projector will be used to present any presentations such as: videos, PowerPoints, video games, online storymaker, comics, and animated videos. This year I would like to write a grant for an interactive whiteboard. My students would be able to use the whiteboard to present and also engage in lessons. Another form of technology that could be available to my class would be iPads. The primary grades in our school have iPads and there could be a possibility that I would be able to borrow them to utilize the recording feature.