Monday, December 15, 2003

Debut Performance

A first: I sang to my students today. Oh, sure, on occasion I have been known to "sing" instructions, but it was never really singing, it was never announced, it was never more than a few words. Today, I introduced the "Element Cafe" project, and sang my Hydrogen Song - see post below - to each class as an example of what a song/rap/poem about an element might be like. I got the kids to join in on the chorus! At the end, I got applause in every class... the main thing is, I hope some of the kids try their hand at scientific songwriting. (If they do, I'll post the best/most interesting efforts).

The Element Cafe is an experiment with an idea called a "menu" which I got from a book on differentiation in the classroom. I presented my students with a menu of choices for their project. They each have to do one Appetizer, a choice between two different kinds of graphic organizers; one Salad, a bibliography; two Entrees, chosen from among four projects, a model, presentation, advertisement, or song/poem/rap; and Dessert is a choice of three optional activities for extra credit. I told them that salad is good for you, so everyone has to eat it, and writing a bibliography is good for you, so everyone has to do it. Then I said that dessert will be sweet 'cause you'll get extra credit...

The idea is that the choice will motivate the kids, and the different projects allow students to play to their strengths and learning styles. It was a lot of work to put together and is going to be an ENORMOUS amount of work to collect & grade. I made a detailed rubric in advance, and handed it out today, and I'm providing examples of work that would meet the standards, and I'm giving the kids all the rest of the days before Christmas to work on it. The thing is, that's actually not all that much time, what with Christmas parties and the flu and kids leaving early for vacation and so on. I don't really know what to expect with this project...

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