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Middle School Feature - Virtual Collaboration

The Curriculum Showcase celebrates thoughtful, well designed lessons that are being taught in District 95.  Here we are showcasing what is being taught, how it exemplifies our District 95 mission, and how it ties the curriculum objectives to active learning. Read the summary below the slideshow to learn more.

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Virtual Collaboration blonde at laptop

 
edmodoing w WA state

 
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Teachers
Mary Dooms
 
Grade Level, Content Area
6th Grade, Math
 
Mission statement traits addressed
This lesson prepares students as responsible, caring citizens in a global community.
 
Local or state objectives addressed
7.A.3b Apply the concepts and attributes of length, capacity, weight/mass, perimeter, area, volume, time, temperature and angle measures in practical situations.
7.C.3a Construct a simple scale drawing for a given situation.
7.C.3b Use concrete and graphic models and appropriate formulas to find perimeters, areas, surface areas and volumes of two- and three-dimensional regions.
9.A.3a Draw or construct two- and three- dimensional geometric figures including prisms, pyramids, cylinders and cones.
9.A.3c Use concepts of symmetry, congruency, similarity, scale, perspective, and angles to describe and analyze two- and three-dimensional shapes found in practical applications.

 

Summary

Funded by the Siemens Foundation and organized by Discovery Education in Silver Spring, MD, last August Mrs. Dooms had what she calls a once in a lifetime opportunity to collaborate with 49 teachers across the US. “Our mission was to understand the growing need for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education, and develop interdisciplinary units that incorporate the various STEM disciplines. At week’s end, every teacher left Siemens STEM Academy with a vision that the disciplines must be better integrated so that more students will consider STEM related careers. The US is continuing to lag the rest of the world in science and math achievement. An integrated STEM curriculum—as early as elementary school, may be one way to narrow that gap,” stated Mrs. Dooms.
 
This school year, sixth grade Middle School South math students in Mrs. Dooms’s classroom virtually collaborate with sixth grade science students from Moses Lake Middle School in Washington state to study the controversies surrounding a potential wind farm near the Columbia River. The unit is a Challenge Based Learning project that examines a relevant alternative energy issue by integrating STEM disciplines. Mathematical concepts and engineering designs usually studied in isolation are applied in a real life problem. The proposed wind farm threatens closure of a hydroelectric dam. Lake Zurich students will research wind energy, construct and test scale model wind turbines and blades, as well as various gear ratios, to determine optimum energy output. Based on the data collected, students will virtually present their findings to the students in Moses Lake, WA.
 
When asked how using the Understanding by Design framework impacted her approach to unit design, Mrs. Dooms replied, “To be honest, I look forward to the next math curriculum review cycle. UbD is an extremely thoughtful approach to teaching and learning. If the essential questions, enduring understandings, and lessons are well designed, it will result in students acquiring a deeper understanding of the concepts while experiencing a meaningful, relevant curriculum. Some students’ understanding of math is limited to here’s another trick we can do with numbers. A unit designed using the UbD framework provides students the opportunity to experience the why rather than being told the why.”
 
According to Mrs. Dooms a result of the challenge based learning opportunity is, “Students are seeing math in an entirely new light and are beginning to talk about it as it relates to the “big picture.” Just today, while researching alternative energy sources, students began learning about nuclear, coal, wind, and hydro-electric power. This background will give them plenty to discuss—from the math that is used to transform these resources into electricity, to the economic advantages and disadvantages.”
 
When asked how her assessment approach is different now than it used to be, Mrs. Dooms replied, “I have found myself slowly moving towards more authentic assessments in math. I admit that many of my assessments are paper and pencil chapter tests. Students, obviously, must demonstrate they know how to do the math. But with authentic assessments added to the mix, the top of the learning pyramid now becomes the authentic, summative assessment. “Number crunching” assessments are then relegated to supporting the learning—as formative assessments.”
 

 

 
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