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Mentoring

Schmied/Hartford©2010

 

Mr. Schmied's seventh graders teaching Mrs. Hartford's second graders how to do schooling experiments.

It is rewarding to raise frogs with a single aged group of students, however we discovered that linking secondary students with primary students makes a project like this very powerful!. The older students remember information they have taught to others much more vividly. Younger students are highly motivated to learn from lessons given by older students because they look up to them. With this project we even felt we could here the walls come crashing down between the classrooms. That was when we both realized we were standing around watching learning happen without having to direct it. This was an incredibly uplifting experience. We both encourage you to try it out yourselves!!

The mentoring for our frog project took two directions:

An intranet link is highly recommended to facilitate learning across the boundaries between two age groups. For use across district projects an email or chat room link is recommended. For our project, an ongoing froggy dialog was established with a private conference through Lake Washington School District's online intranet.

 

Training students to communicate via electronic means using a structured response

To begin with, the secondary teacher initiated training to his students using the structured question and response technique shown above. This protocol was used by secondary students to guide on-line conferences. This process has proven very effective to keeping mentors and their primary student learning buddies on task throughout the project.

Note that there are several responses a secondary, or older student, can make to the primary learning buddies questions. These responses are intended to focus or redirect the dialog and to ensure proper follow up and follow through.

Extension questions: Once the primary student's original question has been answered to the satisfaction of both parties, the mentor always asks a related follow up question that causes the learning buddy to extend his or her knowledge beyond the original question.

Once our secondary students were comfortable with the initial questioning process. two student mentors visited the primary classroom and trained elementary students on the proper and ethical use of the computer link and the internet using the following guidelines and check list:

(Note: We believe check lists are key to successful mentoring relationships between students because they can be modified over time to develop a repeatable process of interactive instruction.)

After the primary students were trained on how to use the intranet link, each student was assigned their secondary mentor buddy and they began to send and receive messages for real! We also posted student designed posters with class photographs in each classroom so everyone could see who their learning buddies were.

NOTE: For primary students it's helpful to have a high school or parent helper to assist students with framing and typing their questions. A goal of at two messages a week was set for communication and proved to be plenty. We allowed social conversation as long as it accompanied science based inquiry conversation as per our protocol above.

LAKE WASHINGTON ON-LINE GUIDELINES

Student Trainer version

I. ETHICS

Before demonstrating anything talk with students about expectations for correct messages. The most important ideas are that they should share their password with no one (including you) nor should they use anyone else's password,

The second important thing to remember is that they should NEVER write anything they would not be happy to have their teacher see or hear in class. Think before you type! They will remember this better if you ask them questions such as, "why do you think this is a rule?"

The consequences for using another person's password or typing inappropriate messages are that you can no longer use the network this year.

* * Once students can tell you the two rules and the consequences of violating each you may proceed.

II. LOGGING ON

1. Double click on Online icon on desk top. 2. Student logs on. (Let them keep their password secret.) 3. Click on site conference window. 4. Open life cycle conference group folder.

III. SENDING MESSAGES

1. Go up to message at top. Drag down. 2. Select a new message. 3. Type in a two word subject such as "tadpole question" IMPORTANT: If you want to type a message to your buddy type your buddy's name as the subject. 4. Click on bottom of the box and type the question. (Ask them to come up with questions to send mentors. If they can't think of anything ask them what they've discussed about raising tadpoles. I'd like each group you train to send at least one message that relates to life cycles or frogs.) 5. To send go back up to message, drag and select send. 6. You know it's been sent when you see the cute little stamp.

IV. REPLYING TO MESSAGES (Please send us a message through the conference before you come, so that there is something with which we can reply.THANKS!) 1. Go up to message, drag and select reply with quote. 2. Type in reply. 3. Go to message and send.

V. REVIEW - Have students demonstrate what they knew as you check it off on the check list. Give them kudos if they've got it. Go over it again like it's the first time if they haven't understood. THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP!!!!!!!!!!!

 

LAKE WASHINGTON ONLINE STUDENT CHECK LIST ...

Student Name: _____________________ Trainer: _______________________

____ Student can state the two rules of ethical LWO communication

____ Student can state consequences of breaking either of these rules.

____ Student can log on without help.

____ Student knows how to access life cycle group conference

____ Student can send a message to the conference

____ Student can reply with quote to a posted message

Student signature: ________________________________________

Trainer signature: ________________________________________

 

Assessment: Communication is checked by on line monitors for quantity and quality of response for secondary students according to standards agreed upon by the class.

 

Resources/Preparation Needed Prior to Instruction:

  • Permission slips need to be signed to use the network.
  • Passwords need to be chosen and practiced
  • Private conference needs to be set up.
  • Process for discourse and evaluation of discourse needs to be determined.
  • Conduct experiments with student mentors as leaders.

 

 

Mentor Led Experiments

This part of the project was the most fun for everyone. It was probably also the richest in terms of student learning. Below is one lesson you might want to try.

Sample Lesson Title: Here's Looking at You Tadpole

Purpose: To examine how grouping behavior increases the chances of survival.

Focus Concepts: Why cluster in groups? What do marine scientists do?

Content/Skill/Attitude: Making hypothesis based upon observations, observing, understand experimental design.

Objective: Given an experiment on the grouping behavior of tadpoles the learner will demonstrate comprehension of this adaptation by accurately recording tadpole distribution on a record sheet and by completing a Venn Diagram with at least 3 similarities and 3 differences to the schooling behavior of White Mountain Clouds or Neon Tetras

Previous learning: Slug and fish schooling behavior experiments, informal observation and recording of tadpole behavior in journals and on database.

Materials needed:

  • Mentor Check List for Tadpole Lesson click here!
  • Venn diagram sheets for each student hop to it!
  • task cards jump to them!
  • (4-6) Ten gallon aquariums set up on sturdy stands or desks
  • fish nets (2)
  • tadpoles (40-60) or (10 per set up). Check your local ponds, get permit if needed!
  • 12 laminated grids - or (2 per set up) 1 inch squares recommended (one goes under each tank and one is used to record tadpole locations)
  • overhead or chart paper for recording and graphing group results
  • small directional lamp ( swivel desk type)
  • netting material, or various foreign objects like stick
  • portable air source and bubble stone
  • children's literature book about tadpoles such as The Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg.

Setup: Set up tanks with aged/pond water two days in advance with matching temperature. Place a grid under each tank. Place ten tadpoles in each ten gallon tank used two hours before the experiment to allow them to return to normal behavior. Smaller tanks can be used only if tadpoles are small. All grids and tanks need to be uniform. Place 10 tadpoles in each tank two hours before the session. No Aeration needed as the stay time is not really long and the aeration adds another huge variable to the experiments.

Learning Cycle Lesson Format

Anticipatory Set: One of the mentors reads The Mysterious Tadpole by Steven Kellogg followed by a brief discussion of fantasy tadpole behavior and true tadpole behavior.

Communication of Objective: In order to better understand how tadpoles really behave we will conduct experiments to discover how tadpoles prefer to group themselves in a tank.

Exploration Phase

  • Divide students into groups of four, with one mentor assigned to facilitate.
  • Assign tasks to students: Recorder, observers (2-3) timekeeper, animal manager, reporter.
  • Have students conduct experiment properly recording data throughout.
  • Within groups discuss results and possible reasons for results.

Concept Introduction

Conduct large group discussion where each group shares results and hypotheses. Mentors call on each group to report out their findings while another mentor records results on overhead or chart paper. Mentors will:

  • get groups to discuss the advantages of staying in a group and share information from "School Riddle" article (attached - see references). Explain that scientists learn to take concepts and apply them to new situations.
  • guide students in a discussion comparing tadpole clustering behavior with the schooling of fish experiments.
  • pass out Venn Diagrams for students to complete in small groups that list 3 similarities and 3 differences in tadpole and fish behavior. (Remind all to focus on behavior and not physical features.)

Concept Application (Can be done on a different day)

  • Mentors design a new experiment with students to discover if environmental factors trigger thigmotactic behavior, Each group conducts a different experiment to answer one of the following questions.
  • Does adding more tadpoles increase thigmotactic behavior?
  • How does light affect behavior? (portable lamp)
  • How nets or foreign objects affect schooling behavior?
  • Does tapping on the outside of the habitat affect behavior?
  • Does the introduction of food change the behavior?
  • Do bubbles affect the behavior?

Closing Discussion:

  • Gather all groups attention. Show all groups what questions were investigated without allowing groups to reveal results. Have students vote on which experiment initiated the greatest clustering behavior. Have group recorders reveal results and compare to vote.
  • How could you use the results of this data?

Extension questions for journal work or discussion:

  • How does the schooling behavior of marine animals compare to the way students behave in groups? What are the advantages and disadvantages of schooling for these creatures?
  • Give some examples of land animals, birds etc. that school. Answer the following questions: Do land animals "school" and are they doing it for the same reasons as marine animals school?

More tadpole experiment ideas:

Do tadpoles prefer plant cover or the open?

Do tadpoles grow faster on a diet of spinach or lettuce?


Appendix 1: Mentor Check List for Tadpole Lesson

___ Read The Mysterious Tadpole done by _________________

___ Lead brief discussion on how the story differs from classroom tadpoles.

Led by ________________

___ Communicate Objective: In order to better understand how tadpoles really behave we will conduct experiments to discover how tadpoles prefer to group themselves in a tank. Led by ____________

Exploration Phase

_____ Divide students into groups of four

_____ Assign tasks to students: Recorder, observers (2-3) timekeeper, animal manager, reporter. (Review jobs with task cards)

____ Give expectations for the experiment

____ Have students conduct experiment properly recording data throughout.

____Within groups discuss results and possible reasons for results.

Concept Introduction

___ Large group discussion where each group shares results and hypotheses. Each group reports their findings.

Led by __________________ Recorded by _________________

___ Discuss the advantages of staying in a group and share information from web or "School Riddle" article. Led by _________________

___ Explain that scientists learn to take concepts and apply them to new situations. Done by _________________

___ Return to small groups. Guide students in a discussion comparing tadpole clustering behavior with the schooling of fish experiments.

____ Pass out Venn Diagrams for students to complete in small groups that list 3 similarities and 3 differences in tadpole and fish behavior. (Remind all to focus on behavior and not physical features.)

_____ If time allows design a new experiment with students to discover if environmental factors trigger thigmotactic behavior, Each group conducts a different experiment to answer one of the following questions.

  • Does adding more tadpoles increase thigmotactic behavior?
  • Led by __________________
  • How does light affect behavior? (portable lamp)
  • Led by ___________________
  • How nets or foreign objects affect schooling behavior?
  • (netting, sticks etc.) Led by ___________________
  • Does tapping on the outside of the habitat affect behavior?
  • Led by ___________________
  • Does the introduction of food change the behavior?
  • Led by ___________________
  • Do bubbles affect the behavior?
  • Led by ___________________

Closing Discussion: Led by ___________________

_____ Gather all groups attention. Show all groups what questions were investigated without allowing groups to reveal results. Have students vote on which experiment initiated the greatest clustering behavior. Have group recorders reveal results and compare to vote.

____ How could you use the results of this data?


Appendix 2: Task Cards

 

OBSERVER

1. Watches movements of tadpoles carefully.

 

2. Reports to recorder the exact location of

tadpoles every 20 seconds.

 

3. Describes behaviors of tadpoles.

________________________________________________________________________

 

RECORDER / REPORTER

1. Writes down data on record sheet.

 

2. Adds up data.

 

3. Puts a check mark in right areas every 20 sec.

 

4. Reports findings to group and class.

 

_______________________________________________________________

 

ANIMAL MANAGER

1. Adds or removes tadpoles and objects to tank if necessary.

 

2. Reminds group to remain calm and quiet during tests.

 

3. Watches tadpoles for signs of distress and reports distress to mentors.

 

________________________________________________________________________

TIME KEEPER

1. Reports time every 20 seconds.

 

2. At 15 second count says, "stand by".

 

3. At 20 second count says, "mark"

 

________________________________________________________________________

References:

We used all of these references. The starred ones were especially helpful. Also check out our Links and Resources page. click here!

Arnoldo, 1976, Simon & Schuster's Complete Guide to Freshwater and Marine Aquarium Fishes, Simon and Schuster, New York, NY, 294 pp.

Barman C.R. and M. Kofar, 1989, The Learning Edge, Science and Children, Apr 1989, pp 30-32.

Keenleyside, M. H. A., 1975, Schooling Behavior in Fish, in Animal Behavior in Laboratory and Field, E.O. Price and A.W. Stokes.

Kneidel, Sally, 1993, Creepy Crawlies and the Scientific Method, Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colorado, pp 200

Innes, W.T., 1979, Exotic Aquarium Fishes, T F H Publications, Neptune, NJ, 448pp.

Phillips, K. 1995, School Riddles, International Wildlife, Mar/Apr 95, pp 44-51

Kellogg, Steven, 1977, The Mysterious Tadpole, Dial Books for Young Readers, New York.

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