Maker Activity #2 (Part 1)
Students will be working together to create terrariums or windowfarms for a unit on Terrestrial Environments in our Science Foss Kit program.
Objective: Students will set up a terrarium and learn what environmental factors play a role in the success or failure of the environment. They will demonstrate knowledge about preferred environmental factors and range of tolerance as it related to light, water, and temperature.
1. Students will watch a video of how to put the Raspberry Pi together and get it up and running.
2. Students will have access to written directions as well to put the Pi together. They will have access to diagrams and work collaboratively in groups of 3-4 students.
3. Once students get the Raspberry Pi up and running, they will go to the Windowfarms website to research and learn about hydroponic systems. Students will then design and create their own terrarium or Windowfarm. Students will have choice in this area of how and what to construct their environment from.
4. Students will also research using the Pi what types of conditions must be present for plants to germinate and grow.
5. Students will create a voicethread of their knowledge about what plants need so that the entire group may benefit from the “brilliance of their work”.
6. Students will write in a blog about the process of learning that they will be going through. Lab notebooks can be kept to keep track of observations but students must represent their thinking in digital format such as a voicethread, animoto, padlet, etc. (again students choice of how to digitally represent the learning.)
7. Much like the Windowfarm community, I would like the class to offer strategies and success/failure stories. In doing this unit before, students have learned things like how important location and precise measurement of water are. This unit is inquiry based in that we really pay attention to the questions that arise and try to find answers that help us to make sense of our learning. Students learn from the successes/failures of other groups and incorporate that into their learning.
8. Students could start a class padlet of vocabulary and terms that we have come across during the unit including terms that are puzzling to them. (Self-populating dictionary)
Relevancy/Big Essential Question: How does this unit of study benefit us as people? Feeding people has always been a relevant question for all of us. Healthy eating is not always an option for some depending on where they live and their economic status. Fresh fruits and vegetables are often expensive. Students could have a way to grow their own or this idea could be used in a more global sense of taking food to developing nations or remote places that are not conducive to growing. This activity has the potential to grow in a variety of ways. Students could start a mini-greenhouse at their school. They could sell plants for fundraisers. The possible outgrowths of this project are endless!
In thinking about the process of imposing the UDL framework on my maker activity, it is clear that I had no idea what I was doing the first time around! My maker activity was a good idea in theory but that was just it. I seemed to rely heavily on the theory but really had no practical way of bringing that idea to a lesson that could be used. I feel that I am closer to that with this lesson in the fact that I am using several of the components on the template for UDL framework. Things such as: providing multiple means for representation (in both comprehension of the process and in sharing students’ learning with the community), providing multiple means of communication, providing multiple means of engagement which are grounded in student choice and collaboration and finally, developing a rubric that shows depth of understanding with the students as co-authors of this assessment instrument. I think that this time around, I paid greater attention to engaging more modalities for students. I tried to scaffold and be mindful of the visual, auditory and kinesthetic learner. I tried to provide choice and collaboration to increase motivation and engagement.
In reviewing Hobbs’ list of five core competencies, I feel that I planned for each.
1. Access: Use of media texts and technology tools were provided for.
2. Analyze: Critical thinking skills were used based upon success/failures of each of the groups. This was needed and important information for students to compare/contrast the results of their terrariums/windowfarms. In essence, it was creating a closer forum or a physical forum of learning in our classroom but having the “expert” Windowfarm forum just a click away.
3. Create: Students had multiple opportunities to create in a variety of ways (physically, digitally, cognitively and creatively)
4. Reflect: Students had the opportunity to reflect on their own learning, their groups learning and the learning of the entire class through their blog.
5. Act: This speaks more to the global challenge of providing food. I think that this project has the capacity to go further and have students start thinking about the contribution that they could make to their community once they master growing with a Windowfarm. This Act piece can be thought of on a global scale such as I just described or on a much smaller level by thinking about the logistics and problems that arose while doing this type of project in the classroom. Students start to collaborate across groups to share what has worked with them and what has not.
In learning about UDL framework, I am reminded of: “The burden of adaptation should be put on curricula, not the learner.” I feel that I have revamped this lesson in many important ways for the learner to be supported, engaged, challenged and to be the center of the learning!
Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R.R. (Eds.).(2000). how people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.
- The Brain & UDL (jcosentinoblog.wordpress.com)