Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Engaging Experiences Beyond Our Walls

It has been an exciting year so far in my classroom! My 9th graders have already created a free multitouch iBook ( in editing right now...pending publication on the iBooks store) that will help other students learn about lab equipment they use in science class. The book also features a chapter that teachers can use to assess their students' understanding of equipment use and lab safety.
Images of the Lab Equipment Manual

My 7th graders visited the Dallas Zoo a month ago and began the journey of telling the story of some of the endangered animals that the Dallas Zoo takes care of. They interviewed zoo keepers, asking them a variety of questions to understand different adaptations, communications and behaviors, and why these particular animals are endangered.
 Picture by Mrs. Morse
 Picture by Mrs. Morse

We are working closely with a few middle school classes across town (shoutout to Mrs. Deinhammer and the Coppell Middle School East and West!) to create a collaborative multitouch iBook that shares the Dallas Zoo's Endangered Animal stories.

Lastly, I'm excited about the upcoming project my 9th graders are going to be working on this year. We are partnering with Laura Wright, Teacher on the Trail, from Eanes ISD to learn about the Husky Dogs that run the Iditarod every year in March. My Biology students will be writing a multitouch iBook that highlights the acronym HAWL that Dr. Stuart Nelson, Iditarod veterinarian, created to help check the health of the huskies on the trail (Heart and Hydration, Attitude and Appetite, Weight, and Lungs).  
Click on the image above to see how you can find lessons to use in your classroom (many lessons geared for K-5)

We've begun 2 topics of study so far: importance of water and what types of biomolecules huskies eat (carbs, lipids, and proteins). And we've got some great sketches and writing so far to insert into the iBook! We have also found 2 mushers that are willing to connect with our classes and help us understand the science of the huskies.

A few screenshots of preliminary sketches we have so far for the Iditarod Project.

I think I'm a little obsessed with multitouch books this year... :)

I love getting the opportunity to think outside of the walls of my class. I love providing chances for my students to use what they are learning to create a product that can teach others about science, anywhere in the world. I like breaking the barrier of what a normal classroom looks like, and seeing my students become authors, artists, and collaborators on something that is bigger than themselves. 

There are some days that I feel like I am taking a huge leap--I ask myself boy, have I bitten off more than I can chew? Some days I go home with my mind preoccupied with the plans that aren't finalized. Other days I feel like I'm wrestling with the question, how do I provide a meaningful experience? And there are those moments when I see my students own their learning, creating meaningful work, and find ways to serve others in unique ways. These are the moments that remind me that it is my responsibility as a teacher to find those opportunities that go beyond our walls, where we can make a huge impact from what we are learning everyday. 

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