Day 88 – Forces Follow-Up


Science 8 – Following from last day’s lesson, today students formalized their ideas on forces by reading through the textbook and answering some questions.  The focus on this work was the differences between constant and non-contact forces, and what kind of motion results from unbalanced forces.

For the last 20 minutes of class, students were asked to put together a concept map for forces.  I gave them keywords such as: balanced, unbalanced, constant, contact, at-a-distance, gravity, electrostatic, etc…

Most of the class nailed the concept map – they had sufficiently complex connections that made sense (indicating they knew how the concepts were related) and the links and descriptors that were accurate and applicable.

Day 21 – Concept Mapping Organelles


How to make a concept map
How to make a concept map

Science 8 – No, it’s not groundhog day… My 2nd science 8 class: After writing out the function for each organelle, I get the students to make a concept map on “Cells”.  This activity asks the students to synthesize their ideas into an overall picture.  The first half of the class is spent looking at examples of concept maps, and key features that the students should focus on.  Here is the link to the handout I use for this activity: Cell Concept Map

Day 19 – Concept Mapping Cells

cmap example

Science 8 – I like to introduce concept mapping to my students, starting with the grade 8s.  I use the above graphic to show how there are different levels of complexity in concept maps, and how more links with proper linking words demonstrates a better understanding of a central topic.

The students had already found and defined the different organelles in a cell, but making a concept map is method for them to piece all of the organelles and functions together and see how they are all connected.

Pseudo Day 112 – Optics Summary


20150429_084823 20150429_084824

Science 8 – April 23

Another one of my science 8 classes was finishing up their optics unit.  Their last assignment was to produce a concept map on the keyword “Vision”.  The concept map is used to determine how well they understand the human eye and how the parts of the eye work together to create an image on the retina and a vision in our minds.

Day 79: Concept Mapping Sexual Reproduction


Science 9 – I’ve had significant problems with one of my grade 9 classes this year.  There is constant chatter above what is acceptable, lots of off-task behaviour and people talking out of turn.  However, I recently have discovered a way to deal with them.  I have reduced the amount I speak to them to the absolute minimum. I’ve never spent a lot of time talking in front of the class but I’ve realized is that even the minimum is too much. What I do now is put some basic instructions on the screen at the beginning of class and let the students start their work or investigations.

Today’s class I started with instructions to produce a concept map based on readings from the textbook. There is a lot of text in this section with lots of vocabulary and concepts.  Before too long I was prompted to speak in front of the class because of a need they had, not me.  They weren’t sure how to do a concept map, so I briefly worked through the main points. The students worked very hard for the rest of the class.  There were several good concept maps produced:



Day 15: Concept Mapping Atomic Theory


In Grade 9 science I decided to give students different options for learning a topic on atomic theory. They could either read through some of the textbook and answer chapter questions, they could go through their workbook, or they could use the textbook and some library books and put together a concept map.

Once this task was finished, I checked each student’s work and asked them a few questions. That was the formative assessment part of the lesson. Once everything was good, each student had an assessment activity to complete. For this, they had to do a cartoon, play or short story which features Dalton, Thomson, Rutherford and Bohr, discussing their theories. The idea was that by creating a dialogue, the students would have to synthesize their new knowledge into their own words, rather than copy sentences from another text.

I’ll see how the assessment goes. In the meantime, check out the concept map posted above. That was done by a student who says he’d never done one before. I gave him only minimal instruction on concept mapping and had shown him a few exemplars. I’m super impressed!