In class, students began a KWL in their science journals. They wrote what they know about rocks and what they wonder about before coming to the library. I planned groupings of experiences to give them multiple platforms for looking at rocks. One stations was a big box of rocks and minerals that I collected in my childhood during yearly visits to Santa’s Land in Cherokee, NC where we always stopped at the “ruby mine”. Students could explore the rocks and minerals using hand lenses and write observations or sketches in their journals. Another station had multiple informational books about rocks and minerals as well as poetry using photographs of rocks. The final station was at the computer where I created a pathfinder of games, videos, interactive sites, ebooks, and informational sites about rocks and minerals.
Students started in the floor where I talked about transliteracy and the natural flow in and out of different platforms of information. We talked about how more questions will develop the more that you research and how to document those new questions in the science journals. Rather than ask students to switch every 20 minutes or so to a different center, I gave them the freedom to move in and out of centers as they chose.
I gave them a little structure by providing a sheet that asked them to visit 4 books, 7 websites, and the box of rocks and minerals. Students were welcome to move back and forth between the stations as many times as they needed. For example, a student might make an observation of a rock in the box, look in books to identify the rock, go back to the box to clarify observations, and visit websites to confirm the identification. The classroom teacher, spectrum teacher, and I floated among the groups and conferenced with students to encourage them to be curious and to document their learning. As always, some students had a natural curiosity and freely documented their learning, while others needed more guidance and support.
Now the classes will return to their rooms to use the information they gathered to support their study of rocks and minerals. They will revisit the resources I’ve gathered throughout the study.
This is a model I am starting to replicate in more and more lessons. I love the freedom that it offers students and the support it offers for individualized instruction.