Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Science Court and Comparative Essays

I am thrilled to bring Science Court: Soil into the classroom. Students are direct participants in the legal matter while learning about soil. On Monday we discovered soil is made of organic material known as humus (not to be confused with hummus) and inorganic materials such as sand, silt, and clay. Over the course of the trial, students will learn:
* What plants need to grow
* The inorganic and organic materials that make up soil
* The roles soil plays in aiding plant growth
* How worms make the soil better for plant growth
* How to set up experiments to:
* separate into layers the different types of materials that make up soil
* test how well water moves, or percolates, through soil
* observe how worms mix layers of soil
* test how well plants grow in different types of soil
How to work as a team by:
* becoming members of an interdependent group
* listening and talking with others
* sharing a common goal
Feel free to discuss the case with your agent!
In writing we are learning how to write compare and contrast essays. I went over three versions of what could have been taught in the past. There was the ping pong model where the writer flips back and forth between what they are comparing and contrasting. Then there is the one where you write all about one object in a paragraph and the other object in the next paragraph. The third was when the writer includes the similarities in one paragraph and differences in the other. Those where even the ways I was taught! We wiped those from our memories and I discussed how students should come up with topics about their objects they are comparing and contrasting (appearance, function, location, etc). Those become the main ideas for each paragraph. Students were asked to choose two objects they could carry back to their writing area. I think I saw Jeevan with a chair and a stool! I also saw Teddy take the Ollie and BB-8. I also think there were some bottles of Purell, writing utensils, and a Chromebook taken. Students created Venn diagrams to come up with their topics. Then using an expository writing graphic organizer they started to jot down their thinking. The use of pre planning in writing makes the actual writing much easier! We will be working on these over the next few weeks.

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