My students come from diverse backgrounds. Our school often has the greatest ethnic diversity of all the schools in the state. The majority of them receive free or reduced lunch. The school, especially the science department, is very technology poor.
Like all kids, they enjoy learning most when they are actively engaged.
It is not uncommon to have a student absent due to either a suspension or from the lack of interest in being in school. This is evidence that they are disengaged. These students need a better reason to be in the classroom than grades alone. They need to become a part of the system. They need to feel needed.
The Next Generation Science Standards asks students to observe and explain phenomena on a continuous basis. My students need to have the skills to create models that explain scientific phenomena and show their thinking in creative ways. They also need to have the skills to analyze scientific phenomena and apply science practices that support their explanations of these phenomena.
Students who do not have the use of technology to apply science practices are being left out.
These iPads will help my students get closer to the experience of explaining scientific phenomena while at the same time allow them to show their thinking in a creative way. Giving these students responsibilities and an opportunity to be more involved will help to re-engage them. Allowing students to share their learning with both the teacher and their peers in creative ways gives them ownership of their education.
My students will be using these iPads to explore pollination in our outdoor classroom as well as various ecosystems in the state of Connecticut. My students will be connecting this learning to previous units about adaptations and how the insects we discover can survive in our environments. We will be exploring beach ecosystems as part of our Blue Science Grant. The students will use the iPads to document their learning in these various ecosystems, collect their data, and develop plans for improvement. The students will then be able to choose how to demonstrate their learning (documentary, podcast, report, etc.).
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