180 days of learning

180 days of learning

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A Method to our “Madness”

October 29, 2012

My 8th grade science students are starting a unit on the periodic table. Now most people not only have no idea why the periodic table is important, they also don’t understand the method to the madness. My students are working on a lab where they are given cards with different numbers and colors. They have to figure out a way to organize the cards using a two-dimensional organizational process and be able to explain why the did what they did. I did not tell them how to begin. I did not tell them which cards to start each row or column with. I just simply ask them the question “What’s the method to your madness?” when they get stuck. Their only criteria is that there needs to be a common characteristic in each row and a common characteristic in each column. After much confusion, frustration, and constant questioning of group members we are starting to see the lightbulb go off!

**These images are of one group going through the progression of organizing their table. In the end the students were able to defend their reasoning and explain to a stranger what the method to their madness was.  We discussed as a class the relevance of the task the early scientists had in creating an organized periodic table with no guidance, assistance, or criteria.
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This question of “What’s the method to your madness?” has been stuck in my head all day.  What is MY method to my madness as I try to create interactive, hands-on, exciting lesson plans day in and day out. Why do I not just follow a scripted text book and do worksheets and read through the book? Why do I try and think outside the box on a daily basis to keep my students engaged? I think we have two things that drive our teaching at PCSC: technological resources, and a desire to reach every student in our classroom. Why not put these things hand in hand and see where we can go!

Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.
Og Mandino

Beth Corbett

Lincoln Junior High 7th/8th Grade Science

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