Watching Engagement

The lab went really well today and I think the students made a lot of progress in learning how to analyze a graph.  These were my easy to manage students and with little effort I was able to have them all working to measure the distances and times for the cars’ motion.  It was nice being able to sit back for a second and just watch the class at work.  This behavior is my goal for all classes.  The students in each group were all working and engaged in the lab and finished very quickly.
 
When we got back to the classroom they graphed their data much faster than previous classes and we had a great discussion.  We a big circle presentation model and went through each group while the class listened.  During this time I was able to reteach dependent and independent variables, which was one of the most missed sections on the quiz they recently took.  It was really helpful having different experimental procedures because they helped us with our definitions.  I officially introduced the concept of slope and we explored what the slope meant in our graphs.  Today felt a lot like the work I did in the modeling workshop and I have high hopes for both of these classes.
 
My MESA class was also very on task today, but I think I need to do more work to develop a more detailed design process.  I think for this class it would help to have steps and maybe a graphic organizer to help structure their design process so that it gets closer to engineering design instead of just a picture.  I would like to find a very engaging project to introduce drafting in because I think drafting can be very dry by itself and this class breaks down a lot more when the class isn’t as engaging.  Today they started making roller coasters and while some groups were a little slow to get into it, there were times where I could just sit back and watch the class as they worked autonomously in groups.  I think this class lends itself even more to autonomous behavior, but I also need to make sure there is enough rigor to promote learning.
 
When I get to start the real MESA short projects, I think I need to start doing random groups so that the students mix up more.  Right now the groups were by student choice and one group, which is all girls, said today that they need a boy in their group to help build their roller coaster.  This group is great about being on task and working hard, and did well on the last assignment, but is slower to act and start building and I think that makes them see what they do as less impressive than what one other group does.  I need to work to make sure they can identify their talents and build more confidence in their ability to build projects in this class and I especially want to get rid of this negative stereotype about their gender.  
 
Before the senior class started I lined them up to talk to them before they entered the room.  This was partly to tell them all at once not to touch the MESA roller coasters, but also to help calm them down and re-establish the classroom norms before the day’s activities.  They were very good throughout the class and were all working hard during the lab.  They picked up the ideas about slope very quickly and should be in good shape to continue this unit with a high level of understanding.
 
Tomorrow I need to re-establish the classroom values with my 9th grade classes and work towards having a better classroom culture and complete the lab.  I’m going to give them one last opportunity to do the lab outside, but I doubt we will make it out tomorrow. Hopefully in time we can keep on working on it and get more freedom in the future.
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