If you have read any of my posts or if you follow this blog, you probably know by now that I love a good “template.” You might call a template a “graphic organizer;” I think of them as templates because my goal is to provide a reproducible structure that does not give away answers, but that, like a skeleton, allows the work to stand on its own while also taking on a variety of different forms.
The template I’m working with here is one I created for our Grade 6 Energy Conservation project. The concept of the project is very cool (learning about options for energy and resource conservation and why it matters), but it’s also the kind of project where many students lose track of the details, forget to do a huge chunk of the work, don’t use a checklist to track their completed work, etc. To help reduce the likelihood of this happening, I started off by designing a template. Here is the original version:
Sadly, the phrasing didn’t work out so well, as kids either created horribly awkward sentences, treating it like a Mad Libs gone bad, or they wrote something else entirely, but then didn’t delete the frame from the template, creating a confusing mess. Clearly, as I was the designer, the fault was mine, so, while the disaster was fresh in my mind, I made a revised version for next year:
I will be interested to see if the revised phrasing will allow students to better understand this as a template, especially the second statement where they are being asked to choose one or two of the options.
I had also originally made a list of options for students to use to design their house, because I have come to see that many of my students don’t have the general background knowledge that allows them to do these kinds of projects on their own. As it turned out, my science colleague did an activity with the students to get them to brainstorm and then put together a list of their ideas, which we were then able to use in the same way, but with better buy-in because the ideas came from the students themselves: