Filling in the Blanks

Students Choose Topic, Then Research and Teach It

What a great time in class this week. The students were teaching and I was just there to guide them and fill in any omissions. The essential question was What can we gain from learning about the history of oceanography? Students were tasked with reading the chapter on the history of oceanography, answering the study questions, and selecting something out of the readings (there were also online readings) that appealed to them and that they would like to learn more about. 

Wide open assignment: "something that interests you" from the history readings. This frustrated many students. "Give me a topic!" Nope, you are a senior and can choose your own. (I actually did assign narrow topics for the IEP students.) "Is there a rubric for us to follow?" Nope, you won't get a rubric in college.  "How do we do the online poster?" I will tell you tomorrow; today is just for research.

A couple of days of research, a couple of days working on their online posters, then the students taught their classmates what they learned. [We used edu.Glogster while it was still free for teachers; they now charge a significant fee for student glogs.] The online poster was great for parents (no running out for poster board and glue!) and made for much neater presentations (no badly cut paper curling at the edges, no glitter sprinkling the classroom).

I knew that not all of the history of oceanography would wind up getting presened by the students, so I prepared a summary slide show that we could quickly flip through, stopping at subjects that were not addressed.  Each class (I have three oceanography classes) was different, which made it fun for me because I was challenged to fill in the various blanks of each class. I like a good challenge. It was also fun because I was able to play off their interests using their work.

For example, one student included a picture of the stars of Orion and Taurus constellations in her Polynesian Explorations glog, which gave me an opportunity to discuss how stars were used in both navigation and storytelling, and the IWB allowed me to draw the constellation picture over the stars. Another student talked about the shadows of the sun, which allowed a foray into looking at various sundials and how a sundial has to be set up for the latitude in order to be accurate.  And yet another student had a picture of the electromagnetic field around planet Earth, triggering conversation about geographic North Pole versus magnetic North Pole.

And on top of all that, "motivation" for the next unit was initiated with an interest in the Earth's magnetic field. Yep, it was a good day.

1 comment:

Colleen said...

love it! I do a lot of this type of thing too... One problem I ran into is that some presentations ended up boring. How did you avoid that? Also--how did you assess?