One of my jobs as a Technology Specialist is to help teachers brainstorm and plan how technology can make their lessons more engaging for their students. We have a fair amount of laptops and desktops at our school, plus 600+ iPod Touches and a cart of iPads for checkout. Although we are fortunate to have more than many schools, classroom teachers are so overwhelmed with the demands placed on them. To add to that load, students must take a Science End of Grade Test in the fifth and eighth grade in addition to the traditional Math and Reading test. Being at a high poverty school, the word “test” is almost a dirty word because that is how hardworking teachers are measured and many put emphasis on scores, not academic growth. In additon, no one measures how students learn to be emotionally stable, productive citizens through the hard work of the instructional and support staff.
Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox and back to science. A fifth grade teacher and I got together to try to come up with an unit on the Rock Cycle that her kids might actually like. She was a true novice when it came to technology use, not to mention totally terrified! She provided me the content and I had to plug that content in to our available resources.
After many hours, I came up with several stations where students could work with a partner or small group and rotate through them. Some stations used iPads or iPod Touches, while others used laptops. All the stations could be deployed with any one of the three devices we used. After a few days, they were asked to create a Popplet to show the relationships within the cycle as well as the terminology.
The stations included:
Introductory Video that everyone watched together
Station 1 What are Igneous Rocks?
Station 2 Where are Igneous Rocks in the Rock Cycle and
collect 3 pictures
Station 3 What are Sedimentary Rocks?
Station 4 Where are Sedimentary Rocks in the Rock Cycle and
collect 3 pictures
Station 5 What are Metamorphic Rocks?
Station 6 Where are Metamorphic Rocks in the Rock Cycle
and collect 3 pictures
Station 7 Play an online Rock Cycle game
Station 8 Play a Rock Cycle Sort card game
Station 9 Go online to learn more
Station 10 We Will Rock You! music video and lyrics
What do terms can you hear?
Each student was equipped with a booklet to record information as they made their way through the rotation.
After rotating through all the stations, each student had a collection of pictures and information to use to create a Popplet, which is available on the iPad or on online for free. They created their Popplets, bouncing ideas
off of each other in terms of organization and appearance. Each student project was evaluated with a rubric that was provided to the kids before beginning their project. You can see an example below.
The teacher I worked with was nothing short of amazed! She had never seen her kids so engaged and happy as they worked.
At the end of the year, our End of Grade Science scores had improved over the previous year.
Secretly, I’d like to think I had something to do with that!
I’d love to hear how you have used technology to make your science lessons more effective!
If you would like to learn more about this activity, visit my TPT store here by clicking on the picture: