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What they say at the beginning of the project: “ The woods? Really Mrs. Lawrence, Really? Why, ohh why, the woods?” “ Honestly, I couldn’t think of one.

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Presentation on theme: "What they say at the beginning of the project: “ The woods? Really Mrs. Lawrence, Really? Why, ohh why, the woods?” “ Honestly, I couldn’t think of one."— Presentation transcript:

1 What they say at the beginning of the project: “ The woods? Really Mrs. Lawrence, Really? Why, ohh why, the woods?” “ Honestly, I couldn’t think of one thing in the woods that I couldn’t find in a nice park. There are slimy bugs, creepy critters, a large variety of trees, birds, leaves, and just about everything else.” “My peers and I were assigned the task of cordoning off what was quite literally a circle in the midst of a forest. The concept seemed at first to me to be absolutely overwhelming, at times I felt like collapsing on the ground and ending it all then and there with a mushrooming knife in our plot bag.” “As I stepped out onto the roadside, I felt as if I had been marooned in some desolate wasteland” What they say at the end of the project: “When I left the plot I left with a sense of accomplishment. I realized that I hadn’t dreaded going into my plot as much as usual. At first I thought it was because I knew what to expect, but reflecting now I think it is because I knew whom and what was living where I was documenting. Everything in the world has its place and nature just happens to the a home to thousands.” “Our plot exemplified perfectly the complex relationships between organisms such as plants, animals, and fungi that dominate the natural world. Finally, the plot project gave us an opportunity to put what we ascertained from our study of biology into action, conducting experiments and collecting data in the field much as a real-world scientist would.” “For these and many other reasons like them, I continue to attest to the fact that the forest plot project was arguably one of the most interesting (and fun) facets of my third form year at the Asheville School.”

2 Planning a Year Long Project Planning and Implementing Projects that span a semester or year in length

3 The Educational Benefits of a Year Long Project The students reflect on the changes that occur in their project each month and communicate their reflections each month and then summarize their observations at the end of the year The students are given an overall task, but have to use problem solving skills to complete the project each class period and throughout the year. The students are immersed in a “real life” field of study related to the class The students become comfortable using the language of our course and can communicate their observations to their peers

4 These are great ways to use the 90 Minute Blocks These projects support both of these author’s research. Pollock: Identifying similarities and differences Reinforcing effort and providing recognition Generating and testing hypotheses Cooperative learning Nonlinguistic representations Lemov techniques: The J factor Simple to complex Change the pace

5 My Goals For the Plot Project 1. The students will become careful observers of their environment 2. The students will be able to identify, collect, and preserve the organisms present in their plot 3. The students will gather and organize data in the field, and they will communicate their conclusions to their colleagues in class

6 My Goals Continued 4. The students will reflect on the changes their plot experiences each month and overall at the end of the year 5. The students will apply the concepts we learn in class to an actual biological field and learn to use the tools common to that field 6. The students will have a sense of appreciation for their environment and the organisms living in it.

7 How is this project organized? Students set up field research plots in the woods at the beginning of the year – each is 100 th of an acre (a circle approx 22ft in diameter) Each group consist of 3 or 4 students Each member chooses a role - ex. Photographer, site manager, record keeper, etc The students visit the plots once per month (Sept, Oct, Nov, Jan, Feb, Apr, May) and record data about the changes that take place in the plots.

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12 Tasks performed by the Students Each month the students are given a list of tasks to be performed in the field and in the lab. The students record who performs each task. The students keep all records in a binder they create and keep materials in a personal group tub that is stored in my classroom

13 Example of a Task Sheet Checklist of tasks to complete In the Field (Put name of student who completed it on line) _______ Obtain soil for Soil Moisture and pH test – use plastic baggie to collect. _______ Use the D-tape to measure the Diameter of Trees taller than 4 feet _______Take Photographs from your angles _______Get compass bearing of the direction your slope faces _______ Measure the temperature of the soil _______Record Changes from November - There should be several _______ Measure the Leaf Litter/compost layer (Use ruler) _______ Look under the leaf litter and record any life you see. _______ Collect any new specimens (Remember to only collect similar ones outside of your test plots.) ________ Count number of small trees and record ________Complete what you can of the scavenger hunt Each Person should answer the following questions: 1. How has your plot changed since you have been there last? 2. What is surprising to you about your plot during this month? In the Lab _______ Perform soil pH test – follow instructions (If not done in November) _______ Put photos onto computer and into your photo folder in the photo drop box. Remember to name them February pics. ________Make sure that you have a binder ready to organize for February

14 What do the Students turn in? With each visit the students submit their plot task sheet with their personal journal. The group turns in a binder at the end of the year in which they: * describe the context of the plot, the changes the plot underwent * create an identification list of the organisms they identified * add their collection of photos of their camera angles from each month * include a map of their plot * design a future experiment students could use their data for * write an individual reflection In the past I have had the students create a power point presentation but this year I am going to have them create a website to maintain throughout the year and present at the end.

15 How are the Students Graded? BINDER – 125 Pts ________/25 Contextual Information ________/20 Photos from the months we visited ________ /20 Evidence of Animals, Plants, Protists, and Fungi ________/10Plot changes throughout the year ________ /30 Individual reflections – This is your personal reflection score, this is not a group score ________/5 Experiment Design ________/5 Plot Records ________/10 Neatness, organization, and thoughtfulness PRESENTATION – 75 Points ________/15 Description ________/15 Plot Changes throughout the year ________/10 What did you find interesting throughout this investigation? ________/10 At least one slide describing the experiment next year’s class could set up ________/10 Each member had designated role in the presentation ________/15 Overall presentation, organization, and thoroughness Total _________________ /200 Notes:

16 Do we Accomplish my goals? Based on their reflections, binders, and power points, I have found: The students become skilled scientists in that: * They are comfortable observing small and large changes of an ecosystem over time. * They can identify common trees, moss, fungi using book keys as well as the internet * The students become familiar with the common tools used in the field and with field techniques The students organize their data, photos, specimens, and lists of changes in the organisms in their plot The students have formed and tested various hypotheses throughout the year The reflections written by the students include both specific observations they made throughout the year, and general impression changes throughout the project

17 Excerpts from Reflections “Though the sheer number of saplings in our plot would prove burdensome at times, they provided unparalleled insight into the workings of a forest and insured the accuracy of our results.” “To be honest, I didn’t expect this much change throughout the year.” “Our plot exemplified perfectly the complex relationships between organisms such as plants, animals, and fungi that dominate the natural world.” “Finally, the plot project gave us an opportunity to put what we ascertained from our study of biology into action, conducting experiments and collecting data in the field much as a real-world scientist would.”

18 Things I have found Challenging Does each group utilize class time efficiently? Teaching on the “Fly” – I can’t always plan for what the students learn or observe Holding students accountable for information from each month and out in the field

19 Things I have found Challenging Continued Originally designing/implementing the project Students keeping track of materials/records each month Finding time during each month to do this

20 Where does a project like this fit in for your discipline? What might it look like? With two 90 minute blocks a month this year, it could be a perfect year to try one out. Here are some examples of projects in each discipline…

21 What are some ways Math teachers can use this? Life Expectancy Lab – visit graveyards and randomly select 30 graves from 1700’s, 1800’s, 1900’s and compare mean life expectancy and standard deviations for the time periods. Do a variety of statistical tests to see if the averages are meaningfully different. Stock Market – Keep track of a handful of stocks, weekly. Learn a Challenging Game- Learn a game like Go or Chess or Hex. Once game basics are learned. Show how analysis is done. Move from basic to intermediate to advanced strategies. Check out Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)for more Math ideas!

22 What are some ways Language teachers can use this? * Follow a newspaper from a region of the world * Choose a leader from a particular region and follow the articles about that person * Choose a role (leader, mother, typical worker, etc) from a region and journal as that person each month * Provide a few pictures each month and have the students write the caption below it to form a book with a story at the end.

23 What are some ways Humanities teachers can use this? Follow a newspaper from a country you are studying throughout the year. The students choose a country to follow and read up, in various credible sources, about current events in that country. The students will share reports with the class periodically and save the information in an ongoing file for that country. Keep a year long dialogic journal the students return to and comment on throughout the year Create a semester long research project with check points and options for peer editing and improvement. Keep a religion and civilization portfolio Follow an author of an article throughout the year and reflect on it each article. Students maintain a website (ex. Wiki space), update with info and comment on each other’s space

24 If you do a long term project… Let’s share it! We will put a list of projects that teachers are implementing on the professional development website. To submit Include: 1. The name of the project 2. A brief description of the project 3. The grades involved This way we can all know the great things happening in our school and be able to do some interdisciplinary work.


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