An Elementary Science Lab: Can It Work? (Part 1 of 3)

19 Feb

the scenario

your school has just been notified that you have $150,000 to spend on creating a classroom of tomorrow in which teachers in your school will rotate through this space so that everyone has the opportunity to experience teaching in this environment. you are the lead educator responsibility for creating the “blueprint” of what this classroom would look like and how you would spend the money. the money may be used for equipment, professional development, furniture — anything that you believe will make this the best learning environment for your students. your learning space has to reflect both high and low end technological resources, keeping in mind that the teachers who rotate through this space will need to be able to replicate some of what they do in this learning space into their own classroom.

the instructional challenge

your instructional challenge is to draft a plan in which you describe what this environment will look like, how you would spend the money, and how you will create a space that includes both high and low end technological solutions, keeping in mind that this classroom will be a model for other learning spaces in which the schools may not have the money or resources to go completely high end.

When I first read this challenge, my mind started to race – iPads, SMART boards, document cameras, oh my!  I thought about the learning space – laid back, yet driven to productivity and collaboration.  Bean bag chairs, a nice sound system to play classical music, laptops everywhere, digital work displayed everywhere – This challenge is a dream.

This morning I woke up and started the final touches on my plan.  As I typed my conclusion, I realized that this is not what my school needs – this isn’t even what my school wants right now.  I hit delete.  I’m wishing right now I didn’t hit delete, since it’s 4:26 and this is due in 34 minutes, but I told myself at the beginning of this course that I needed this to make sense for me – not just “get it done.”

Recently, my students took an engagement survey (I’m a big survey fan – ask them what they want and they just might get it 🙂  They LOVE science – but we don’t do enough of it.  We’re really focused at the elementary school on literacy.  I love literacy, I see the point in focusing on this, I still have students that are reading at a 2nd grade level, I know the importance of literacy.  However, I also see the importance of science and social studies and character development, but these things get pushed aside all of the time because we don’t have the time to get to every skill in the literacy curriculum in the 90 minutes we have.  Yes, we can work harder on integrating the skills into math, social studies, and science – we do that, but it’s hard and usually the inquiry, simulation, and experimentation is replaced with reading or writing about something.  With that said, teachers at my school have voiced that they also LOVE science and want their students to be scientists, but they “just can’t fit it all in.”

What if we had a place just dedicated to science?  What if we were committed to using this space for every unit – for collaborating with each other – for using state-of-the-art technology to motivate, engage and excite our students – to teach science how science should be taught?

I want to take a look at what we could do with $150,000 in order to give our students the richest experiences – I want the science lab to be the “coolest” place in our school!

next series post >>


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