Sunday, 5 October 2014

Sci-fit. Term 3's fitness programme

At our school we have always done a 15-20 minute 'fitness' session each day. This could be jump jam, games, relays etc... It's a great chance to get the kids moving during the day and a great chance to have a bit of fun.

Term 3 is our cross country term and also usually the wettest term of the year. So this term it was decided that 3 times a week we would run 'sci-fit.' That's short for science fitness.
3 times a week in the normal fitness slot of the day I would run a short science experience for the whole school to take part in.

A science experience is a session where the students experience an activity that is based on some sort of science concept. These sessions are about the students taking part and getting some knowledge to talk about. They are not going to be taught the 'science' behind that task, but it may lead on to learning more about why something happened.

The nature of science (NOS) was my  focus this term for all the sessions. I hoped to be able to observe how the students were able to work together, solve problems, follow instructions, come up with questions, try different things out, exhibit persistence and most importantly have FUN!

Our school is broken up into 4 houses, and it was in these houses that the students worked. Each house was then split into 2 groups meaning that all groups only had 3-4 students in them. The perfect number to observe things happening and the perfect number to ensure that ALL students had the chance to participate.

The students did things such as ramp racers where they had to work out the best angle on their ramp for their car to go the furthest then followed up the next session with trying out a range of different cars to see which one would go the furthest. The 3rd session we raced off against each other to see who had the best ramp and vehicle.

The students made oobleck, they used their senses to decide what substances were what in a series of containers, they used lemon juice and baking soda to make corks pop out of bottles, they worked out what sort of paper would twirl best on top of a pin stuck in a pencil etc....

One of the ways I judge whether my students are enjoying what they are doing is by how much feedback I get from our parents. Judging by the amount I questions I got from parents over the weeks, I can tell that the students really enjoyed the experiences.

watching 'dancing' raisins.

Paper twirlers 

ramp racers

trying the team approach to paper twirlers 

The oobleck experience was as hands on as it could be! 
Used this as an opportunity to read Dr Suess's book, Bartholomew and the oobleck.  

Cork poppers- working as a team 

stacking straws - water density experiences. Started the first experience just getting the students to use a straw as a pipette, the second sessions was stacking 2 colours and the third session they had to stack 3 colours. Was lots of fun! 

Getting these experiences organised took a lot of time and resources but it was really worth it. The children loved our sci-fit sessions and usually the first question I got when I would walk in the classroom "Is it sci-fit today?" 

This approach of science 'experience' is something that lots of teachers would automatically write off as it's really about the students 'playing.' 
Play in science is such an undervalued part of science teaching. I remember in my early years as a teacher getting really grumpy with my students when we 'did' science. I would set up these great activities and I would have high hopes of the learning that would take place.(I would of course set a ridiculous time-frame to get it all achieved in.) 
I would then get annoyed that the students wouldn't listen to me, and all they wanted to do was PLAY!!! 
I really wish I had just let them have 10 -15 minutes of the session to play, to work out how something was done and to let them start developing their own questions based on what they were finding out. 
I wish I had listened to their conversations! To listen to the language they were using, I wish I had encouraged them to pull something apart or try the things that were swirling in their minds. 
All these things of course, are what I allow my students to now do. 
By giving them this play time, they are now so much more focused when I start to teach them the more formal stuff. 
Learning cannot just be left to discovery, explicit teaching must still happen but time to play and explore is a vital part of the process! 

Roll on term 4!  

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