Part Two of NASA Materials and Lunar Certification

The discussions about learning have been quite rich. Points that came out include: it is important to share our new discoveries with someone; it is more meaningful to discover for ourselves than just be told; we never stop learning; and that it is rewarding to see light bulbs go on for someone you are teaching.

Here is a PBL scenario (the story that hooks you to tackle the problem) that can be used for a simple, short lesson on rocks.
"The local museum director stopped by the office to give us a whole box of rocks and labels. It seems that a display case was knocked over last night by accident. He has asked our class to match all the rocks with the labels again."

From this starting point, I dump a number of rock samples and the labels igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic on the table. I instruct each pair of students to select a "pet rock" that they will now adopt. They need to get to know their pet and be able to match it to a label and explain why it fits that label. You can also give a few labels that would give the geographic location for where a rock was found and then finally some labels that say unknown.

The lesson can last for as long as you want. In the end the students set up their rocks and give their reasons. I don't correct the placements. Instead I let the questions and challenges go for awhile. I want students to know that science doesn't have answer keys. It is fun to see them continue the discussions and challenges.

You may wish to think about a PBL scenario for your final project. Feel free to post an idea to the discussion section and all of us can help brainstorm with you. We have some very clever classmates.

Now here is the link to the information about getting NASA lunar/meteorite samples.
http://www-curator.jsc.nasa.gov/lunar/index.cfm

Here is a link to a listing of many of NASA's educational materials related to the moon.
http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/topnav/materials/listbysubject/Moon_landingpage.html


Part One

Hello All!
Now that the teaching project has been assigned, let’s think about teaching and learning. My name is Jane Neuenschwander, and I have been a teacher for 30 years now. I was trained as an elementary school teacher; taught a number if years in middle school; then was a stay-at-home mom and experienced pre-schoolers first-hand; returned for a number of years as a substitute teacher; and now I involved with professional development for in-service and pre-service teachers.

During my time with you I will be pointing you towards a number of NASA web resources related to the Earth’s moon. I also want to share problem-based learning (PBL) with you as just one way of designing educational lessons or activities.

Assignment 6a:
No later than Wednesday (Oct. 31), share with us a “light bulb lesson” from your past. By that I mean, tell us about something you learned, in a formal or informal learning setting, which made you say, “Wow, now I get it!” Share with us what you learned and how you learned the new knowledge. Please post those in the discussion section off of this page.

Assignment 6b:
Then as you read other people’s experiences, respond (no later than Thursday, Nov. 1st) to at least two other people, commenting on any similarities or differences in how you learned.

Finally, take a few moments to read through some information giving background information about problem-based learning (PBL). Here are the direct links:
http://www.cotf.edu/ete/teacher/teacherout.html
http://www2.imsa.edu/programs/pbln/comparison/
http://esseacourses.strategies.org/inquiry.php

On Wednesday, I will post a very short and simple PBL idea that I use with students to teach them about rocks. For those of you who have asked for some ideas to use with fifth graders, I think I have something. (smile)