During this unit I will use a variety of teaching strategies in order to differentiate and reach different types of learners.
Students will identify the levers in the human body through inquiry as a group. After introducing simple machines pose the question: "What type of simple machines you can identify in the human body." Eventually students will come up with levers and wedges. Follow up with "Identify the levers in the human body". Distribute Post-Its to the students and ask them to put one of the levers on the Post-it note. Give them two minutes. At the end of the two minutes ask students to come to the board and put their Post-it note up. Get a volunteer to organize the post its and tally up the results.
Have a number of handouts and a big diagram of the skeletal system ready for class. Pair up students. Each pairs receive a drawing and they should label all the levers they can identify. Give students four minutes and have pairs exchange papers. Which pair identified more levers? Do you agree with the other pair? Why or why not? Ask students to come to the board and label on the big diagram one of the levers identified by THE OTHER pairs. Note that this technique includes student discourse and turn and share teaching strategies.
After a general intro of simple machine and then levers in the human body, the teacher will start focus on specific examples of how to calculate torques, forces, distances and mechanical advantages (see examples below, under "Classroom activities").
Students are given the choice to work in groups to complete this assignment. From my teaching experience many students benefit from group work, especially when the work is setup such that each member of the team as a function. For example one setup would be to have a Team leader, a Time Keeper, a Data Recorder and a Materials Manager.
Each member of the team is responsible for a certain aspect of the project (see Appendix: Collaborative learning job definitions) and the team manages itself. Students would work as a team to solve similar examples with the ones just learnt through "teacher led" strategy and then present them to their peers. Different teams would solve a different set of problems followed by "pair share" and "class share". (see "Classroom Activities' below for some relevant types of problems).
Pair share and class share
Pair share is a collaborative learning technique in which students work on a task first by themselves and then they turn to their partner and share. Generally "pair share" is followed by "classroom share" in which the pairs share they finding to the whole class.
Hands on (tactile) learning
The hands on teaching strategy would be the building of a prosthetic arm that will fulfill certain requirements (should be within certain lengths and able to lift a certain weight). This activity can be performed either as a discovery activity before the unit is taught or as an enrichment activity, at the end of the unit (see "Classroom Activities" below).
Choice of assessment
My former personal observations agree with the current literature
that demonstrates students learn better if they are given the choice of the final product. They become emotionally invested in their learning and produce very creative and content-rich learning outcomes. In light of this teaching philosophy, I give students a choice of the media they use for their presentation: power point presentation, poster, model, science article, etc.
The most challenging part of this is having uniform grading across the media choice. In order to make sure all the students are kept to the same standards for this project, I use customized rubrics for grading as the one presented in the Appendix: Grading Rubric.