This week I share photographs of some of the Constellation Paintings my students have created over the past few years. In this art-science integration project the kids painted their favorite constellations in the unique style of Vincent van Gogh. I introduced the project and described the day-by-day unit plan last week.

As I mentioned two weeks ago in Teaching Tip #59, I like to integrate art and science during our astronomy unit to address the third grade California Earth science standard: “Objects in the sky move in regular and predictable patterns.” In Teaching Tip #59, I described how my students painted the planets and the Sun in the style of Impressionist Claude Monet. Last week I shared photos of several of these projects. This week I describe the project we do the following week, Constellation Paintings.

This week I share photographs of some of the Planets Paintings my students have created over the past few years during our art-science integration project, in which they painted the planets and Sun in the unique style of Impressionist Claude Monet. Last week I introduced the project and described the day-by-day unit plan.

The California Earth science standards for third grade focus on astronomy. The primary standard reads as follows: “Objects in the sky move in regular and predictable patterns.” The five substandards that develop this idea further mention constellations, the lunar cycle, the definition of a telescope, the planets that orbit the Sun, and the Sun’s position in the sky.

For two of these five substandards, I have created week-long projects that integrate art and science. The first project begins when I present my students with an introduction sheet that contains the following scenario:

This week I share photographs of some designs my students have created over the past few years for our Symbol & Landmark Project, an engaging social studies unit that helps kids make a personal connection with important content. I introduced the project two weeks ago and described the day-by-day unit plan last week.

This week I describe the specific unit plan for the Symbol & Landmark Project, an engaging social studies unit that helps kids find relevance in their work and allows them to make a personal connection with important content. I introduced the project last week, and next week I will share pictures of some projects my students have created.

Here is the day-by-day sequence of activities. The unit typically takes two weeks to complete.

Each September when my students complete our beginning-of-the-year Enthusiasm Survey of the various curricular areas, social studies ranks among the least popular subjects. Author Lee Jenkins once commented that since social studies is about people, it should be one of the most interesting subjects in school because people are interesting. Traditionally, though, the way social studies is taught in schools doesn’t seem to resonate with children because it is difficult for students to see how the content connects to their lives and to find the relevance in what they are studying.

Below you will find pictures of several Fraction Creatures my students have made in recent years. As you can see, the kids create a wide variety of creatures, ranging from the cutie pie dog to the ferocious teddy bear. Though the photos show only animal creatures, students also create machines, aliens, flowers, and fantasy creatures. One of my favorite parts of teaching is that I can give directions at the beginning of a project like this, and even though each child is hearing the same instructions, everyone creates something truly unique and different. That fact needs to be celebrated.

Before winter break I posted a six-part series on the Math Problem Solving Menus my students work on after they finish the primary math activity of the day. In February, when we begin our Fractions unit, we put the menus aside for a couple weeks, and when my students complete their primary activity, they move directly to their Fraction Creatures.

Student enthusiasm for this project is as high as it is for any project we do all year, and it provides the children with an authentic opportunity to grapple with many of the skills featured in our unit: comparing fractions, finding equivalent fractions, adding fractions with unlike denominators, and determining simplest form. The artistic aspect of the project fosters creativity and promotes the habit of craftsmanship.

Saturday, 28 April 2012 20:10

Some Benefits of Project-Based Learning

A couple days ago my students, working in pairs, were using zomes to create three-dimensional representations of buildings and facilities that they would add to our city if they were given an opportunity to do so. The kids chose such ideas as a homeless shelter, animal care center, technology development laboratory, recycling center, and football stadium. (After all, we are in Los Angeles, a city that has been without an NFL team for a long time.) The project represented the culmination of our Geometry Challenge unit, and we will be displaying the structures at our upcoming Open House.

Published in Blog