hartman's enormous idea
I hope this is the right way to post my idea for a classroom lesson...I guess I'll know shortly. I have only read a few pages of one of the articles so far, so maybe upon further reading I'll get some clarification and guidance about exactly how to structure my proposed project effectively for sixth grade middle school students. (I figure the six hour flight back to the mainland from Maui will provide the perfect opportunity to do so). In any case, the real struggle I went through in trying to figure out how to incorporate blogs into a project was actually finding a way to include them that would truly take advantage of their unique properties (globally accessible, instantaneously available). I came up with numerous projects that incorporated the use of blogs, but in nearly every case there did not seem to be any real reason to use a blog instead of any other medium, including old fashioned pencil and paper. Finally, after much revising, the idea of using a blog to track student progress on an experiment arose. When I added to this concept the component of recreating an existing scientific experiment (one of my first ideas as a middle school science teacher) there seemed to be some justification for using blogs rather than pencil and paper. So my idea is this:
Each student will sign up for their own blog on Blogger.com. They will be responsible for posting an entry of at least three sentences every day to their blog describing their progression throughout the project (including the proposal process).
Each student will submit a proposal for approval that outlines:
1. What scientific field their experiment is based in.
2. What their experiment will attempt to prove or disprove.
3. Who originally performed their experiment.
4. What the original outcome of the experiment was.
5. How they will reproduce the experiment.
6. How they will convey their final findings.
7. How long their experiment will take.
8. What supplies they will require for the experiment.
Upon proposal approval, each student will be allowed to undertake their experiment process. Because different experiments will require different lengths of time to complete, the deadline for each student will be determined by the student themselves (and graded according to how well they have allocated and managed their work time).
Upon experiment conclusion, the students will be expected to create a final write-up and reflection that details their findings and hypothesizes on errors, improvements, and areas for possible expansion for the experiment in the future.
The unique properties of blogs is thus taken advantage of by allowing the outside world to see exactly what steps each student has taken in their experiment recreation (not to mention the students themselves having access to this information) which enables the audience to then judge the validity of the recreation almost immediately after each step has been taken (rather than after the entire experiment has been concluded). Hopefully some interaction with the original experimenter could take place at some point in the project so that their input could be included in the final product, although that will depend greatly on the actual experiment each student decides to recreate. -joe