21 September 2012

Moving toward creation

One of my unofficial goals this year is to move my students away from consumers to creators of content.  Every year I give the typical Adopt an Element Project.  It has morphed several times, but in the end it is simply a research paper in which students regurgitate on paper what they found online.  I have been experimenting with alternative assessments and this seems like the perfect opportunity to try something different.

So this year the project took on a different focus. I put the following up on the projector:

What would the world look like if [Your Element]...

  • was never discovered?
  • was solid/liquid/gas?
  • was flammable?
  • was used as currency?
  • was poisonous to humans?
  • was/wasn't a precious metal?
  • was non-reactive?
  • was the building blocks of life?
After picking one of the questions above, the students are basically assigned to create an alternate reality in which the question would be true.  For example, if the selected Aluminum, the question they chose might be "What if Aluminum was flammable?"  Now, they can't just say "Well, we wouldn't have Aluminum foil or Aluminum cans because they would explode in our houses."  The whole point of this is to think outside the box and determine what WOULD we have.  Find alternatives, create new worlds.  If we don't have aluminum foil, what metal would be substituted.

Some elements are hard (Oxygen, Nitrogen, Hydrogen) because they have such an important role in our world.  I am hoping that these students really step up and push their imaginations to make something amazing.

The final product will be presented to the class in about 5 weeks in a 2-3 minute presentation.  They can use Google presentations, Prezi, Animoto, interpretive dance, basically anything but a Microsoft product.  Many of the students stumbled a little today as they began their research but I will check in with them in 2 weeks.

I am really excited for the student who asked permission to make a children's book!