What are we doing to help kids achieve?
“Failure is just a way to gain information so when you try the next time you will be more successful.” Henry Ford
The first few experiments and labs that I use to start the year off are more like “probes”. I am trying to figure out the strong and weak points for my students. I have found a couple of things we can work on. The two major areas are observations and communication. We need to work on writing sentences that use data and background information to support the theories students develop.
We have done two great activities. These are “Changes you can believe in” and “Nothing is constant but change” by Chad Bridle from the Target Inquiry program and Grand Valley State. (I have mentioned these labs in a previous post.) We worked through the activities. I made up a writing task that really tried to break down the big ideas in a simple way. Students provided answers with information about the macroscale, particulate and symbolic that came from the activities. Overall, the students did well. Buoyed by this experience, I decided to do a microscale lab practical.
The lab practical followed a similar writing format. Students did an experiment, wrote down data during several parts and then had to develop ideas with the help of a word bank. The results were frustrating. Observations were haphazard and the supporting statements were difficult to understand. I been convinced it would be a great idea but it just did not work.
What can and should I do differently? If I could do it over again, and I hope to, I would develop an example to model for the students with their help. I would probably add one or two teacher “checkpoints”. I would stress the good examples in a small group setting. Most importantly, if something does not go well, I hope to not repeat it, learn from my mistakes and try again with the new information. We are getting toward the end of the first quarter. The goal...fine tune, learn from mistakes and never give up.