To conclude the biogeochemical cycle poster project, students each reviewed two posters from groups other than their own. The review consisted of a worksheet with one half containing key items that must be included on each poster for full credit (turned in for participation credit). The lower half of the worksheet included feedback questions that were left with the posters and provided to the groups for feedback. Students then received a take-home quiz consisting of an article about the 2015 Gulf of Mexico dead zone and a quiz with questions connecting the nitrogen, carbon, and water cycles with photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and algal blooms. The quiz is due Monday.
As Unit 1 draws to a close, today students spent the first part of class completing the HAB PBL Post-Assessment worksheet which will be used to assess student growth in understanding the content and in helping to determine how individual points are allocated for each member of the group. For the second half of class, we reviewed for the Unit 1 exam by matching a list of cell organelles with a list of organelle functions:
Next, we reviewed the structure of cell membranes and then finished with a review of osmosis:
Our Project-Based Learning mini-unit concluded today with students presenting their solutions to the problem of harmful algal blooms. Special thanks to our many “stakeholders” who visited with students today. The students did a great job sharing their ideas, answering questions, and engaging with the stakeholders to learn more about career paths. We will debrief the experience tomorrow and then transition to a review of Unit 1 content in preparation for the Unit 1 Exam scheduled for Thursday.
Updated June 1, 2016: To conclude the WABS PBL, I presented the results of our efforts in the form of a poster at the Showcase of Success meeting at the Hyatt Hotel in Seattle on Thursday, May 26. Again, a huge thank you to my students, the Environmental Science Center, the chaperones who made our field trip to Seahurst Park possible, the groups who worked with my students on the field trip, the stakeholders who shared information with student groups, stakeholders who attended our in-class poster session, and of course, WABS and King County Public Health for inspiring our work.
On the final day of work before students share their work by presenting to stakeholders tomorrow, groups put the finishing touches on tri-folds and formulated responses to questions they should anticipate during their presentations. Each student should be prepared to share their understanding of the following list of questions:
- What exactly are algae?
- How do algae obtain energy?
- How do algae fit into the ecosystem?
- How do algae make more algae?
- What does it mean for algae to “bloom”?
- Why do algae bloom?
- When do algae bloom?
- What happens to the ecosystem when algae bloom?
- Why do algae only bloom at certain times?
- What are the conditions that lead to algal blooms?
- Why do algal blooms end?
There are a number of excellent resources on the Internet to help students formulate answers to these questions and many more. Here are a selection:
- All About Algae website
- Algal Bloom reference on Science Daily
- Harmful Algal Blooms on EPA website
- Washington State Dept of Ecology Marine Algae Blooms website
- Sound Toxins website highlighting toxic algae with impacts on shellfish industry
- Algae Bloom news reports on KUOW (audio)
- Algae Bloom news reports on NPR (audio)
- Marine viruses may help control algal blooms – article on The Scientist website
- Department of Ecology blog post about Puget Sound health in Summer 2015
- Impact of macro algae in Dumas Bay (Federal Way)
Students spent the short Friday class period putting the finishing touches on tri-folds in preparation for presentation day on Tuesday. While they worked, students were reminded to discuss questions (and their own responses) they might anticipate from audience members, and to consider how to engage their audience members with questions about career paths. On Monday, students will share their lists of anticipated questions, receive a list of questions they will be asking audience members about career paths, and then spend the class period practicing their presentations and fine-tuning their tri-folds.
Students worked on their tri-fold posters all class period, printing content and practicing presentations. While they worked, student groups were challenged to come up with three questions to anticipate from visitors to their group’s poster on Tuesday. Examples of questions to anticipate:
- Why did you pick your solution?
- How did you select your group’s members?
Due to a last-minute scheduling change, we had the opportunity to spend our final lab in the computer lab today instead of tomorrow. This worked out nicely, as many groups realized yesterday their tri-fold presentation boards needed additional content. After today, students will need to arrange computer time outside of class if additional research is needed to complete the project. We will be back in the classroom tomorrow assembling tri-fold presentation materials and discussing anticipated audience questions.
Student groups received their printed Google Doc materials and a used tri-fold poster board. They were provided with Pirate yellow paper to re-cover the tri-folds and then began sketching out how their content would be attached to their boards. The process helped students identify remaining areas of need so they can focus their efforts on Thursday, our final class day in a computer lab. The pictures below show an example tri-fold layout for students who need some inspiration and guidance, as well as a list of goals for the rest of the week.
We completed our first week of problem-based learning (PBL) with a quiz about Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), an opportunity for students to reflect on how well their group has been working together, and a call for questions about the work we have been doing. Based on student feedback, here are several documents for students to review, reference, and print if desired to better help them understand our work:
Multiplier Worksheet (for groups with inequitable member contributions)
We will work today in a computer lab, with students encouraged to use the time efficiently to discuss the current state of their group’s project and to identify any opportunities for research to fill gaps in group knowledge before spending the next two days in class working on the tri-fold (or equivalent) presentation content.
We concluded the week with a quiz designed to assess student knowledge of harmful algal blooms (HAB). Back on October 6, Christine and Jarrett from the Environmental Science Lab came to our school and met with students in the library in preparation for the field trip. During the visit, they engaged students in a “quiz show” format game, and students were instructed to take notes for a future quiz. Today was that day. In addition to questions about HAB, students were asked to evaluate how well their group worked this past week and to establish a goal for next week. Finally, students were asked for feedback about the project, and their feedback will help guide the resources that are made available as they work next week.