Sixth Grade Science…for a New Generation!

alig3Indiana’s sixth grade science standards state that students will “understand that there are different forms of energy with unique characteristics.” In generations past, a lesson on this topic might have included reading a textbook section and filling in a worksheet, not a method conducive to deep learning. Today’s HSE21 Short, from Stephanie Alig’s classroom at Riverside Intermediate, provides a compelling example of 21st century learning, where student inquiry and collaboration, powered-up by 21st century digital learning tools, foster enduring understandings of important scientific concepts.

alig1“I placed students in groups of two or three, so that they might collaborate and learn from each other. Each group investigated a form of energy (sound, light, heat, electrical, chemical, or elastic), by researching in their textbooks and online with their iPads. Each group’s responsibility was to create a one-minute presentation representing their form of energy. Groups used a variety of digital presentation tools to share their findings: iMovie, Haiku Deck, and Adobe Voice were three popular tools.”

alig2“Next, groups created Auras (using Aurasma) or QR codes as vehicles for presentation sharing. I placed the Auras and QR codes at ‘energy stations’ where the students a) watched the presentations; b) completed a mini-lab (made a circuit, energy sticks, measured heat, vinegar/baking soda, poppers, and diffraction grating glasses); and, c) submitted responses through Blackboard to demonstrate their understanding.”

If you are over thirty, does that sound like YOUR sixth grade science instruction?

Taking One’s Teacher Home

The potential of digital connectivity and devices to broaden and deepen learning is nearly boundless, as HSE21 Shorts posts often affirm! In addition to student-driven inquiry and creations, teachers are harnessing technology to connect with students outside the classroom–posting lessons online, holding virtual office hours, and recording and posting presentations. Through Blackboard, our learning management system, Google Apps for Education, and many other digital tools for learning, students can revisit material that is not yet understood. They can receive quick, individualized feedback. Interspersed throughout the year, HSE21 Shorts will highlight some simple, yet powerful shifts in instruction made possible through digital connection and access.

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 7.24.42 PMNatalie Stoner, mathematics teacher at the Hamilton Southeastern Freshman Center, is a pro at demonstrating mathematical constructs to her students. But as students will attest, an algebra query can seem straightforward when the teacher is explaining the steps–tackling the homework problems, though, can be another story! Stoner wanted her students to be able to revisit her in-class presentations–to review, rewind, and hear key points again as needed. Enter an iPad, a tripod, and YouTube. Now Stoner uploads each day’s mini-lesson to YouTube and links the post in Blackboard. The freshmen have the means to hear the lesson again; students who are absent can see what they missed. A simple but powerful way to foster deeper understanding. That’s #ConnectedEducation.

Need an exponent review? Ms. Stoner can help! Just click the YouTube link below:

Day 9 – Fourth Graders Think About Change

Quality instruction requires students to think deeply and connect ideas, no matter what their age. Consider this recent example from Hoosier Road Elementary School:

mayaangeloubbMy fourth grade high ability class is studying patterns of change in language arts. In class we read an excerpt of Maya Angelou’s “On the Pulse of Morning” and discussed how the language of the poem reflected our nation’s changes and the author’s challenge to inspire change in the citizens of our country. As a follow up, the next day students watched an embedded video posted to Blackboard and read the full text to gain further appreciation of the poem. Students then posted journal entries about their new reflections after seeing and reading the full text. Students also read and responded to their classmates’ entries. 


Submitted by Brad Striegel, Hoosier Road Elementary, Fourth Grade