This unit is designed to be presented to 6th grade inner-city students. The unit seeks to find different and creative ways to develop student interest in Math and Science. Many of our students are grade levels behind in math and have had very little exposure to physical science. Hopefully this hands-on approach will create an interest. Being able to apply the concepts learned to a practical project should help make learning more meaningful to students.
The unit is designed to be taught over one marking period approximately 10 weeks. As a kick-off of the unit, each student will be required to visit a bridge of their choice. They will be asked to write a short narrative and make a sketch of what they observed. Before they reach the design stage, students will be taken on a field trip to visit a bridge in the Fair Haven or downtown area. Most of my students live in or around these areas.
My classes are inclusion classes, which mean regular education, special education and bilingual students are in the same class. Work has to be modified to meet the needs of all the students. This unit should be very useful in my class, since it is designed for students to use different and individual means of expressing their knowledge. I plan to use the corporate learning group approach to teach this unit. To the extent possible and with agreement from the students, groups will be formed based on student abilities and strengths.
The end product a (Bridge) will be treated as a culminating activity. Each individual or group will be encouraged to complete a bridge, however, it is not necessary. One will be completed as a class project.
The unit will incorporate math and science concepts defined by the Board of Education and my school's Comprehensive School Plan. These concepts and objectives will be taught and applied to come up with two end products; a completed bridge and a short research paper. The idea that students can use the knowledge they have acquired to make something they can identify with, should add real world meaning to what they have to learn and increase their interest in learning.
In my science class, which is physical science, students will be introduced to the Scientific Method, SI (metric) measurement and conversion from Standard to Metric units. Since students do not have much knowledge of the SI system, quite a bit of time will be spent on this. Students will learn the relationship of SI units to Standard units (Example 30 cm equals 12 in). Classes will cover measurement, mapping skills, graphing, scale drawing and estimation. Students will be presented with many hand-on activities where these concepts can be applied.
In math class many objectives relative to this unit will be covered, including geometry, measurement, ratio and proportion and proportional reasoning. Students will be required to use the Internet Connection included in every chapter of the text to find background information relating to their project and research paper. Before starting to construct the design for their bridge, I would like for students to have knowledge of the "Why and How" of bridge design.
As a result of the Internet research, class discussion, and individual visit to a bridge and a class visit to a bridge, students will be able to come up with question relating to bridges that they would like to answer. This will make the start of the Scientific Method. The Scientific Method will include the following steps:
1) Choose a problem (their question)
2) Research your problem
3) Develop a hypothesis
4) Write your procedure
5) Test your hypothesis
6) Organize your data
7) State your conclusion
Completion of the seven steps of the Scientific Method should provide the information needed to complete their research paper. To add variety to the projects, students will be required to select a type of bridge to focus their study. They will build the bridge of their choice and complete a research paper.
Once the preliminary activities are completed, students will be assessed at two-week intervals during the marking period. As part of the assessment, students will be required to complete a "'Dream Bridge." They will be required to draw a scaled version of the bridge. They may use any sturdy material to complete their bridge.
When completing the bridge, some students will use the Standard unit of measurement and others will us SI. Completed projects will be presented to class. A spokesperson from each team will be required to explain their group project.
Judging of the bridge will be done using a rubric. Students will participate in the construction of the rubric. For most of my students, this will be their first exposure to a rubric. To get students comfortable with using a rubric, we will practice by scoring open-ended questions in math class. This will serve two purposes.
1) To get students accustomed to writing out explanations to math problems.
2) Teach students how to evaluate their own work before it goes to the teacher.
This knowledge, especially # 2 will be helpful when my 6th graders the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) in 8th grade. They will be required to write an essay that is holistically scored using a rubric. Students who become proficient with the rubric will be able to self-score their essay.
The culminating activity for this unit will be a "fair." For the fair all classes will come together. Those chosen by their classmates to participate on the fair will be required to explain their project. For teams there will be only one spokesperson. Judging of the projects will be done using a rubric.