Giving Up Control by L. Linder

The other day I gave up control.

In Science, I had my 6th graders develop their own investigations. I do this every year, but this year was different. This year, my students are so much more engaged. It is the end of May and they are actually excited about learning. Some comments…

“Usually, you tell us what to do, what to learn. Today I am excited because I get to decide what to learn.”

“Mrs. Linder, when we put our bean in the coffee it did this weird, whoosh thing.”

To me, the experiments are simple, almost silly. Will a lima bean seed grow faster in Monster or water? Most of the investigations are a variation of this and the answer seems so simple. Yet to them, they are discovering something that may revolutionize the lima bean growing industry.

It is late May and kids are coming in to make observations, take measurements, take care of their beans, and record everything in the data charts THEY created.

Giving up control couldn’t be any better.

Mrs. Linder teaches sixth grade science at Lake Zurich Middle School South, Lake Zurich, IL. She continually sets high, achievable goals for her students and supports them throughout the learning process.


Closing the STE…M Gap Part 2

Last summer I was fortunate to experience a weeklong immersion in STEM education sponsored by the Siemens Foundation and Discovery Education. There, I met Kelly Frederick, a sixth grade science teacher from Washington state and the two of us planned how our students would collaborate across two time zones on a math/science alternative energy unit with a focus on wind. Our unit was titled Blowin’ in the Wind.

Spending time and collaborating with an outstanding teacher leader like Kelly made me rethink what I do in the classroom. Specifically the students:

1. designed blades and calculated surface area,

2. measured the blades’ efficiency by comparing energy output,

3. conducted trials by changing the degree of pitch,

4. studied gear ratios, and

5. collected data to virtually present their findings to their counterparts.

To be honest, I was a bit fearful because I had never conducted a math unit based on scientific inquiry. Nor had I ever trusted the students to guide their own learning.

I need to do more of that.