K-W-L Sheets

I am trying something new in my science classroom.  I am hoping it will work out for me, and not blow up in my face, but I have decided to step outside my comfort zone and let some control for the unit go to the students.  If I am successful I will continue to use this for the rest of the year, if not, then I will reassess and find some other teachers who can help me find a way to make this idea work.

The idea is to start my new science unit off with a K-W-L sheet, a sheet I used to use a lot in my internship and teaching in Saskatchewan, but I have not been using in Alberta.  (I can't really explain why, but it is what it is).  I will ask the students "Please list all that you know about Cells and Systems in the human body."  They will then record down all that they know about Cells and Systems on their K-W-L sheet under the K for know.  We will then share our answers and I will create a smartboard document that will include all the answers the students came up with.  This way I assess which students I am going to have to work with more, and which I am going to have to let lead the other students in collaboration activities.  Once that is done, each student will then document down as many questions as they have for what they would like to learn.  They will record these questions in the W column for want to know.  Then we will share our questions and I will add the questions to the smartboard file.  This file will be shared on our student common and students will be able to access it during science classes and they will be able to add smartbook pages to the file answering the questions.  So that when we review we will be able to click on the questions and link to a new page that the students collaborated on to share the answers.

The idea is to assess my students, to see how they are learning the material and to see them relay that information to other students and other teachers or administrators.  I won't be giving them a mark, the students will mark themselves.

The other idea is to give the students a project, where they will research the systems of the human body and they will teach the class about those different systems.  Thus, taking their learning into their own hands. They are going to be using books, the Internet, and different computer programs in order to finish these projects. 

I am hoping that this will help students to see that learning isn't about the marks they get, but what they actually take away from the learning experience and how they can expand on that knowledge to get a better understanding and comprehension for the world around them. 

Any suggestions or ideas from other teachers for this idea and project would be greatly appreciated!!! Thanks.  This is a Grade 8 Science Class, most students are from the middle class socio-economic status, we are within a Catholic school.  The unit is Cells and Systems.


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