"Alright, students. Today we are all going to be writing a poem about the rock cycle."Half the class cheers, a fourth roll their eyes, and a fourth begin to fall asleep.
The more I teach the more I realize, even the most "fun", engaging lesson or activity is still just school work to some students. It is still an assignment, there is no choice in the outcome. You do it you get a grade, you don't do it you get a zero. Very cut and dry. And for some students who lack motivation to begin with, even your fun "Let's make a video!" might not be reaching everyone.
Possible solution time... A menu of assignments.
Now, I did not come up with this. I definitely stole it from a highly creative teacher friend of mine from my first teaching gig. We were an AVID school and since AVID preaches Science interactive notebooks she came up with this menu to give students a choice.
How it works:
Have students take notes over the topic. Every school I've been in I have the students take Cornell Notes. Again, AVID schools. This step will definitely work with whatever note taking process you use.
Students then use their notes to create a synthesizing project. This is meant to have the students look back at their notes and find a way to understand and present them. I have had different sets of menu options throughout the years.
Their menu this year includes:
Rhyming Poem- Student must create a poem with at least 5 couplets and a picture about the topic.
*Unfortunately, the poem writing is not the kids favorites so I have no good examples of this one.*
Cartoon Project: Students create a single frame cartoon- it doesn't have to be funny- with 2+ lines of captions. Must include an explanation of the topic.
Song or Rap: Students create a song that includes vocabulary from the concept. It can be a popular song that change the lyrics to. Must include an illustration.
Superhero Assignment: Students design a comic book hero/heroine. Costume has to reflect the name and the name has to reflect the topic. The Superhero also has to have a power that correlates to the topic. Must include an explanation of the name, costume and super power.
Band Buzz: Create a band logo, name and 3 songs that have to do with the concept. Explanation of how they all connect to the scientific concept.
I am a huge fan of these types of assignments just because it breaks up the "You do because I tell you to" mentality of school.