Posted in Education, STEM, Teaching

Purposeful Teaching

For the past several years, I’ve completed a unit in my STEM class on Chemistry.  The unit culminated in a final Science Fair project.  The students, working in pairs, created a unique investigation regarding a chemistry topic, conducted the experiment, created a lab report, crafted a display board of their findings, and then showcased their project at a Science Fair in the classroom for parents and faculty members.  It’s always been a fun unit as the students get to DO science.  However, since I began this unit, I’ve struggled to get the students to create an organized, aesthetically pleasing, and detailed display board of their findings.  Regardless of the requirements, examples shown, and discussions involved, many of the students generally put together disorganized, messy, or illegible display boards for the Science Fair.  Why is that?  It’s always baffled me.  So, to combat this issue this year, I’m trying something different.  I’m being very deliberate and purposeful in how I teach the process of crafting a display board.

On Monday, in my STEM class, I’m going to complete a lesson on how to create an effective display board.  Below is the agenda slide I will use to guide the class through the lesson.

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My hope is that by providing the students with very specific and detailed steps, I will guide them to creating an organized, detailed, and aesthetically pleasing display board.  In the past, I haven’t been as specific in how to create their display board.  I usually just tell them to do it.  This way, they won’t jump into writing on their board or casually placing things onto their trifold board.  I want them to follow a specific protocol this time around so that a more positive result will occur.

To introduce the display board for the Overview stage of Monday’s lesson, I’m going to review the requirements for the display board so that they know what they need to include.  I’ll explain and describe each of the steps along the way and answer any questions they have about what their board must include.  Below is the list of requirements the students will have access to while creating their display board.

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Then, I will show them some examples of effective display boards.  I’m going to spend this weekend crafting a display board of my own that exceeds the requirements so that they have an actual model to use as a goal.  I also have pictures of other display boards I found online that I will show the boys in class on Monday.  For each example, I will highlight the following features: Organization, Detail, Neatness, The Pretty-Factor, and Proper Grammar and Mechanics.  I will then address any final questions the students have before allowing them to sketch out the layout they will use for their display board.

In carefully and purposefully preparing my lesson for Monday’s STEM class, I believe the students will better understand the expectations and goals for their display boards that will be due next Thursday.  If they understand the requirements and what is expected of their final product, I’m hopeful that they will be able to produce display boards that effectively showcase their learning and attention to detail.  I’m not looking for perfection, just care and ownership.  The students should be proud of the work they complete as they will be displaying it for others to see.  Producing work for publication is very serious and needs to be taken as such.  They can’t rush or carelessly craft work that others are meant to enjoy and learn from.  While I won’t know how effective Monday’s lesson is until Thursday rolls around and they turn in their final products, I feel as though I am setting my students up for success by explicitly explaining the stages involved in creating an effective display board for their chemistry project.

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Author:

I teach sixth grade at Cardigan Mountain School in Canaan, NH. I'm currently ensconced in my fourteenth year at this small, independent boys' school. I love engaging students in relevant and hands-on learning. I was nominated for the NH Teacher of the Year Award in 2016 by a parent. While I love education and guiding students, my first passion is my family. I have a wonderful son, Jeffrey, and a beautiful and intelligent wife, Kim. I couldn't be happier. Every day is the best day of my life.

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