As I am getting ready to set up my classroom this year for the upcoming school year, I am going to try to a new strategy. I created a concept map (for my own use) with a central question. For Earth Science it centers around the question of “What Makes Earth Unique?” I then tied each unit back to that central question. Such as “The Earth Moves.” I am going to hang the central question on the wall in the classroom and then essentially ‘build’ the concept map with my class as the year progresses. As each unit goes on, I will put the concept up. Then my plan, as the year goes on, is to ask students what they have learned (not every day, but every few days). I will hang up some of their responses. Sometimes I think we will co-construct responses as a closure or review activity.
For example, as we study “The Earth Moves” students can respond that they have learned about rotation, revolution, moon phases, sun’s path, or the rate at which the Earth rotates or revolves. As the year goes on, they will be able to add their knowledge on other topics.
I think, many times, we have a curriculum overview but we (or at least I) don’t always pass that along clearly to our students. Even if we give them a syllabus, calendar, or unit names, it is difficult for them to see the connections between units and the importance of topics. I’m hopeful that this will help!
I will keep you updated as the year goes on. What strategies do you use to help your students see the ‘roadmap’ of their learning?
Tara is a science teacher from upstate NY. She has taught General Science, Biology, Environmental Science, and Earth Science.