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Topic: Environmental Education
I read the article “The Dirt on Outdoor Classrooms” by Steve Rich. In the introduction, the article discusses how teachers bring materials needed for an outdoor science lesson from inside the school building. Teachers have to remember to have all materials in hand in order for students to be able to do the outside lesson. It would be nice for teachers to already have the science materials outside ready for students to use. Outdoor classrooms allow for teachers to teach their science lessons with nature. Having class outdoors allows students to get hands-on experience with learning about topics surrounding nature such as botany and geology. Rich (2000) notes that in order to have a productive outdoor classroom at your school is to have a plan in mind, interested students, and funding.
There has to be a plan, interested students, and funding for an effective outdoor classroom. Teachers have to lesson plan in advance in order to allow students to complete unit tasks outside. Lessons have to connect with student learning. Rich (2000) offers that an outdoor lesson could be about life cycles of insects such as a butterfly. Students seeing butterflies in nature allows that hands-on experience and observation that textbook pictures can not provide. The next step is getting students interested in the outdoor classroom. Students will have no problem in getting excited about going outside for class. Also, teachers can ask for student’s input about making the outdoor classroom better for their learning. Funding for outdoor classrooms is easier than most people think. Schools can ask parents to donate plants and gardening tools for the outdoor classroom. Educational science grants can also be sources of funding. With a plan in mind, interested students, and grant funding, an outdoor classroom will increase student learning in environmental education.
Rich, Steve. (2000). The Dirt on Outdoor Classrooms. Science Scope, May, 20-22.
Topic: 5E Learning Model
The next article I read was “Will It Float” by Dan Vincent, Darlinda Cassel, and Jeanie Milligan. The article begins with how the idea for the article came about. Fifth graders were sorting candy bars such as Snickers and Three Musketeers by predictions of weights. After weighing the candy bars, students were shocked that the Snickers bars weighted more than the Three Musketeers bar, even though the Three Musketeers bar is larger. The fifth graders found it mind-boggling that smaller objects can weigh more than larger objects.
The authors of this article developed a lesson for students to learn more about mass, volume, and density. The activities that went along with the lesson incorporated the 5E Learning Model. The 5 “E’s” are: Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, and Evaluate. For the first “E” Engage, students went through four centers that allowed them to observe and feel items in order to make a prediction. They had to decide if the materials such as wood, pumice rock, steel spheres, and a Cartesian Diver (made from a two liter bottle and glass dropper) would either sink or float. Their predictions were to be recorded on a worksheet. The sinking of the South American tree wood, Lignum Vitae, let the students know that there are some types of wood that do sink (Vincent, Cassel, & Milligan, 2008). Next, students explored with an activity measuring eight different objects. Students had time to think by classifying into two lists which objects would float or sink. After students made their predictions, they calculated the mass and volume of each object and calculated the volume displacement.
For Explain, students presented their data findings to the class. Students had to work with their group members to create a graph of the data and explain how they calculated mass, volume and density. The fourth “E” Extend was applied when the sink-or-float activity solidified student thinking. The last “E” Evaluate allows teachers to assess student understanding of the concept. Questions asked by the teacher let the teacher know which students had a hard time with the investigation. Teachers can use that information to reteach mass, volume, and density if needed.
Vincent, D. , Cassel, D. , & Milligan, J. (2008). Will It Float? Science and Children, February, 36-39.
3192 Activity Points
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