Science 8 – As part of their unit on body systems, the science 8 classes had their own inquiry project to work on. It was inquiry in terms of them crafting their own question and answering it, but it wasn’t really an extended study into a inquiry question. I think that once the students settled on a question, their actual research went quite fast.
Most students had difficulty in coming up with a question that was on-topic and could be answered. Lots of questions were really too broad, such as “what happens when an organ no longer works?” I’m partly to blame for this, as I didn’t scaffold it as well as I could have. However, the students had to go through the process of fine-tuning and modifying their questions, and ultimately I think this was very valuable. The art of wondering and asking is something that can be beaten out of kids in school, and it’s something that we should pay more attention to.
Not too surprising to me was how terrible kids were with using wikispaces. There is a huge myth about the digital native and how good kids are with technology. Nothing could be further from the truth. Kids are accustomed to using one-touch buttons to install apps that do things for them. Even with something as simple as wikispaces, over 1/2 of the students had a lot of trouble. Signing up, responding to their email, joining the wiki, and then finally adding a page were difficult for many kids. I had also created a screencast that should have helped with the process, but that was a wasted effort. Students simply did not bother to look at the video, they were quite content to admit defeat (“I couldn’t sign up”). Many kids didn’t even quite understand the idea of the website. They thought that wikispaces was my own website, and had problems with the concept of signing for the wikispaces service, and then as a separate task they had to join the class wiki. I’ve used wikispaces before, 3 years ago. The students then were much better working with websites. 3 years of IOS and Android have really had an affect on people.