The first few days and weeks of school are here to lay the groundwork for the rest of the school year. By focusing the first few weeks on on that groundwork perspective, digital footprints, legacy, ownership of curriculum, student voice, and motivation and inspiration (from the professional development days by teachersfortomorrow.net)
A large die is presented to the students. The goal is that the students are to try to figure out what is on the bottom of the die. One example of this activity is here. I have 3 classes that I am doing this with and I will probably change out the die used for each class.
What is the purpose of the lesson?
The big purpose of this lesson is the change the culture of my classroom. The students will be taking ownership of everything that we do in the classroom.
The first day (or two) students will come in and their seats will be chosen using this activity. I imagine that this will take some time for students to figure out how to group themselves and where they will actually sit.
The die will be left at the front of the room. The students will use the iPads and whatever app they choose to write/draw what they think is on the bottom of the cube. The goal is for the students to get up and move around the room, move the object, and learn that my classroom is going to be different than probably any classroom they’ve had in the past.
Improving on their work
After finding that this activity goes by very fast, I added another component to this. Students give each other suggestions for improvement on their work. I do this a couple of times so that they have a variety of different types of students giving suggestions.
Think about what you did today. Yes, that’s it!
In the Following Weeks
Students will reflect on how this activity applies to science and their life. This reflection will be created on a site that they will create for themselves, their “playground” as Garth and Mike of Teachers for Tomorrow put it. There is no right or wrong answer for this activity, but an exercise in learning about how the class will run. These reflections will not be graded, as this is their first try at blogging, hence their “playground”.
Note that I never show the students the bottom of the die. This is very typical of the scientific process, that the results are not straight forward and we have to use the data we have to predict what will happen or what is going on in something (like atoms) that we can’t possibly see.