Thursday, 12 April 2018

Rocket Launches with 9TGn

This term I've been teaching Third Rock to my Year 9 class. It's a thematic unit that combines learning about tectonic plates, convection, earthquakes, volcanoes, energy changes, rocket launches, speed distance time calculations, investigations, life on Mars, seasons and all kinds of things! 

I've been twiddling it as we go through based on the class in front of me, and due to the school-wide (and cluster-wide) goal of improving the literacy of all of our students. There's been lots of pair and group reading and discussing, story-writing and blogging which has actually been really enjoyable for me to learn about and design for them, and they seemed to increasingly enjoy engaging with it. 

Last week we had a wee cross-curricular sequence. I was absent for the first part where students were supposed to read their first scientific fact-sheet kind of text (our other texts have been stories, articles, methods and reports) about types of energy.

Because the end of term was rapidly approaching (and Y9 camp too!) I didn't have time to catch them up on my return, so instead they continued over to graphics the next day and built their rockets with Ms Fergusson and then the next day we launched them on the field with Mr Dunn! 

Here is a student's perspective of the rocket launch on their blog :) 

I tried to have a few quick chats about the different forms of energy while we were on the field watching each group's launch, and during our next lesson we did some more on energy changes and they completed the activity identifying energy changes in our school Kapa Haka performance (that they should have completed the day I was absent!)

For a Do Now during the review lesson I created a word-find after a request from the students. Word-finds are not very useful for learning, I think, unless maaaaybe for the spelling of words. So instead of giving them a list of words to find I changed it so they could approach the learning in two ways: 

1) go looking for familiar words in the word-find and then match what they found to the appropriate definition OR 
2) identify what word they should be looking for based on the definition and THEN look for it in the word-find.

Click here for a link to the word-find.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Play-doh Chloroplasts With Year 12

Today in Y12 biology our lesson was in two parts; learning about the structure of a chloroplast first, followed by learning the stages of photosynthesis. 

To help with learning how to draw and label a chloroplast we made play-doh models of them, using different colours to represent different structures.

For all of the models (bar one) green is used to represent the thylakoid discs stacked into granum (the plural for these is grana), because the thylakoid discs are where chlorophyll is found. Chlorophyll is the pigment responsible for absorbing red and blue wavelengths of light for energy and reflecting back green wavelengths, which gives plants their green colour.

Pink: outer membrane. Yellow: inner membrane: Red: stroma. Green: thylakoid stacks in grana. White: lamellae.

Yellow: outer membrane. White: inner membrane: Pink: stroma. Green: thylakoid stacks in grana and lamellae joining them.

Pink: outer membrane. Red: inner membrane: White: stroma. Green: thylakoid stacks in grana.

Pink: outer membrane. Green layer: inner membrane: Yellow: stroma. Red: ribosomes. Green: thylakoid stacks in grana.

Yellow: outer membrane.  Absent: inner membrane: Blue: stroma. Green: thylakoid stacks in grana.

Green: outer membrane. Red: inner membrane: Yellow: stroma. Pink: thylakoid stacks in grana.

Mikayla made an adorable miniature model.

Priscilla with her chloroplast.
Yellow: outer membrane. White: inner membrane: Red: stroma. Green: thylakoid stacks in grana.

After the class was comfortable with the structures inside a chloroplast they were ready to move on and learn about how photosynthesis happens in two of these structures; the thylakoids and the stroma. 

Students will have to work hard filing this away in their long term memory in a way that makes sense to them; drawing diagrams of the process, explaining it out loud, teaching others, or writing the story of photosynthesis in their own words. This is one of those concepts where I can be around to answer questions but I can't physically MAKE students learn it, and when it becomes tricky they need the resilience to wrestle on! 

Friday, 9 February 2018

Layers of the Earth Cake

Year 9 has just started their Third Rock From the Sun unit, which begins inside the Earth as students learn about the layers beneath their feet. 

I know that this topic is both popular and successful because the year-group it was first taught to in Year 9 is now in Year 11, and when I surveyed my Year 11's about which topics they remembered best and felt most confident in, "volcanoes" and "layers of Earth" came up again and again. Because of that my Year 11's will be doing the Surface Features of NZ internal assessment later this year, to play to those strengths. 

Anyway, back to the current Year 9's. I thought a good way to welcome them in to science this year and introduce the idea of modelling in science would be with a cake!

If anyone wants the recipe for sponge layers then here it is:

Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees C.
Beat 7 small eggs (or 6 large ones) on high for 1 minute. 
Slowly add in 1 cup of sugar and beat on high for 8 minutes.
Measure and mix 1 cup of flour with 1/4 teaspoon baking powder.
Sieve and fold in the flour mixture to the eggs 1/3 at a time, making sure to get the flour off the bottom of the bowl (where it likes to sink to).
Pour half the mixture into a baking-paper-lined cake tin.
Add some food colouring to the rest of the mixture and then pour that into another cake tin.
Bake for 25 minutes.

Make sure students can name the layers of the Earth before they get to take a piece on the way out the door!

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Class Korowai on Mr Bones

Every year I get my students to decorate two feathers for their class korowai - one with images or words that represent who they are, and one with a specific goal for their time in science. 

This year I decided to merge all the feathers from my four classes to make one large korowai rather than four smaller one, and actually have it worn as a cloak by Mr Bones rather than displayed flat on the classroom walls. 

Here is the finished product:

Sunday, 28 January 2018

New Tool - EdPuzzle!

Hello! I'm back after my year-long hiatus, refreshed, engaged, calm and ready to roll.

I've just been checking through the first Year 9 unit called "Third Rock From the Sun" and found that one of my favourite tools (Zaption) doesn't exist any more.

A quick Google search later and I've discovered a replacement with even more features and useful tools.

Meet EdPuzzle :) It's a tool to help you to help student engage with information on videos by including questions, notes or voice-overs throughout.

First you import any video from youtube.

You can trim the clip down.

You can set due dates.

You can add questions throughout the video, as well as voice-overs and notes.

You can block and prevent 'skipping' through the video or skipping questions.

When presented with a question, students can submit their answers or choose to 'rewatch' the segment it relates to.

You can share it to your class when you're done, or embed it with an iframe.

You can see how many/which students have engaged with your activity and what they've scored (I am guessing the score only applies to multi-choice questions, though you can read their answers on open-ended ones).

You can see how individual questions were answered. 

And if you are interested in seeing the one that I made as a model, you can click here to engage with it (and maybe learn a few things about the Layers of the Earth as well!)