It sounds like it is the perfect time to give you a Gather and Gab update. To tell you the truth, I’ve been neglecting our twitter page, @gathergab. This is because Miss. Rogers and I have been working so hard on the other aspects of this project! We used our twitter page to connect with a Chemistry teacher (@Mr_Gullacher) from Regina who is passionate about authentic hands on learning. In the short time I have worked with him I am already inspired by his approach to student learning.
So here is where we are at:
1) We met with Paul at his school and talked about the type of topics that he was going to be covering in his class, so that we could make as many connections as possible. His students were going to beginning the solutions unit so we begin to aim our hunt for scientists working in water quality and solution potash mining.
2) It was important to Paul, for us to be as successful as possible, that we spend a decent amount of time introducing the students to the topic and helping them to develop questions to ask our presenter. So we scheduled two days, one to introduce the ideas, and one to Skype the scientist and wrap it up.
3) Kelsey has to be given credit for finding our perfect scientist match. Kim from Golder in Saskatoon is a scientist that is hired by industrial companies to ensure that they are not polluting water past the standards of the government regulations. Her job is on sight and doing initial testing, so her job combines the sciences of chemistry, ecology and biology.
4) We spent one class with the students talking to them about the project and getting their brains flowing about topics that surround water quality. We put four broad stroked questions on the board and the students answered them on sticky notes and then the students grouped their sticky notes into topics. This was our way to test for pre requisite knowledge and see what gaps they had, so we could develop some questions to ask Kim. They were responsive and willing to participate, which was very encouraging.
5) Tomorrow, we will ask for volunteers to ask Kim the questions that we brain stormed. We will Skype with her and then we have planned a wrap up activity. It is important to Paul, Kelsey and I that we need to assess if learning happened, or else we need to consider serious changes for when we do this again in two weeks.
6) Kelsey and I decided to have them do some reflective writing. This way, if their teacher would like to mark it, he can. We decided to do two fast writes, on two different levels of thinking (Bloom’s Taxonomy). A fast write is a piece of writing were students are required to do nothing but just keep writing, no matter what comes to their mind, keep writing. We are not concerned about spelling or grammar, we just want them to get their thoughts on paper, with no pressure.
The first fast write will be 2 minutes, and we will give them the following prompts:
1. Something new I learned is…
2. Something I found interesting was…
3. One way this connects to something I am learning in science is…
The second fast write will be 4 minutes, and we will give them the following prompts:
1. Reflect on your contribution to declining water quality…
2. The drive to better Saskatchewan’s economy has a direct impact on water quality because…
3. I agree/disagree that industry should be held to a standard that ensures SK bodies of water remain clean. Explain
Kelsey and I spent about 40 minutes deriving these prompts. That is 80 minutes of brain power between us, for 6 prompts! But we wanted them to be meaningful, open, hit various levels of thinking and connect to the questions that the students had formed. It shows just how important good questions are.
I am excited to see what our first Skype session brings us tomorrow. Stay tuned for an update of the successes and challenges that I am sure are to come.