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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

PBL Camp: Grades 6-8 (Week 1)

PBL Camp: Grades 6-8 (Week 1)

Related Tags: Project-Based Learning
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How will you make the oil spill relevant to your students? This is our brainstorming thread for the middle school community. Any and all ideas and thoughts welcome!

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Marcia Ostendorff's picture

Hmmm.... we are looking for ways to help students get a handle on the scientific method. They struggle with the whole concept and we want to assign a simple problem they can try to solve using the most basic steps. Giving them a feather dipped in cooking oil and letting them figure out what works, or doesn't, might be a good way to start that process in the fall.

Jeremiah's picture

Rather than specific ideas for subject areas, I really would like to see the teachers on our campus use this opportunity to work in a cross-curricular fashion. I really like the idea of using podcasts, wikis, webquest and other online tools. I think an over looked area will be ELA, but ELA teachers always struggle with non-fiction reading. I think if the non-fiction reading is tied together with activities on the same topic in other classes it will increase the students focus and improve their skills in this area.

Kristin Hoins's picture
Kristin Hoins
Technology Teacher Grades 4-6

I have pitched the possibility of having grade level teams, but centralizing our student work and sharing to a public audience. It seems like we could have a Blog or Ning that is Grades 3-6 or 4-6 that could have pages and sections organized by the driving questions involving biomes/ecosystems, land and water, sustainability and natural resources etc. Are any of you interested in creating an authentic audience so we direct followers to one location and also having students from all over sharing their learning, research, discussing, and commenting on each others work?

Valaida Doyle-Smith's picture
Valaida Doyle-Smith
Business Technology Teacher

While we live close to beach locations, most of my students do not spend anytime there. The water in Atlantic City is not the most appealing. That being said it doesn't mean that they will not be attracted to beach locations as they mature.
I would start out by demostrating the effects motor oil has on paper, other products, and a small plant. I would include a feather and fur to include birds and animals in our observation. My students a very visual learners and need to see the effects of things if possible. I would have my students complete a writing prompt on their observation of what happened to the products and what they thought.
We would then view several CNN documented stories on the oil spill. We would discuss the effects on the business and the environment. Students will be broken into groups for discussion. Each group will have a business related to the problem. For example BP owner, Fisherman, Hotel Owner at the beach affected by the oil spill, etc. What would you do?

Michelle Harrison's picture

My kids spend a good deal of time at the beaches since they can go to Chincoteague and Ocean City. The problem I run into is presenting the information they need and then having enough class time for the activities, video, papers, etc. I have a mix of learning styles so need to present the key concepts in various formats. My class period ends up being 40 minutes or less. I end up doing a quick discussion and having the lab so they can do the hands on seeing that in effect there is nothing they can do that will totally remove the oil damage. I can then show them that the damage done starts a domino effect down the chains.

Is there anyone with similar problems, good ideas, suggestions????

Michelle Harrison's picture

My class gets a bag of gunk (homemade oily sludge), a bowl and a number of items that they can choose from to clean up the spill (feathers, paper towels, sand, cloth, etc. They get an additional day to bring in items they think may do the job after their brainstorming session.
The end result is for them to see that the impact is in some ways permanent and can cause damage that will continue for generations.

Suzie Boss's picture
Suzie Boss
Journalist and PBL advocate
Blogger 2014

[quote]My class period ends up being 40 minutes or less. I end up doing a quick discussion and having the lab so they can do the hands on seeing that in effect there is nothing they can do that will totally remove the oil damage. I can then show them that the damage done starts a domino effect down the chains.

Is there anyone with similar problems, good ideas, suggestions????[/quote]
Michelle--I'm going to post your question in the PBL Camp Clinic: Ask a PBL Expert discussion. Our PBL pros should have some good ideas for you.

Ginny Pauwels's picture
Ginny Pauwels
6th Lang Arts, 8th U.S. history, tech teacher; IB school in Pontiac, MI

Hi to all. Been on vacation and trying to catch up with everyone. I teach 6th grade Language Arts and 8th grade U.S. history. I'm going to try to figure out a way to bring the oil spill into the U.S. history class. May even include some background on the entire oil industry.

Tennille's picture
Tennille
Middle school math department from Brooklyn, NY

I love the specifics that you provided Jason. I definitely see this project math related and looking for various activities that will spark the interest of all of my students (in some way_lol)

LNZ's picture
LNZ
6 - 12th math teacher

I really like "Graph," a program written by Ivan Johansen. This one is not online, you download it and run it from your own computer. You can get it at:
http://www.padowan.dk/

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