Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tools for Science Projects!

*Also check out my other posts on Science Project Tools:
  1. Science Buddies = True Science Project Love
  2. Using Google Docs in your Science Project Fair
  3. Paperless Science Fairs
  4. Memonic--your own Internet Research Secretary
We have our first big project of the year starting this month--the amazing 8th Year Expert Project!  This is the capstone project for our Montessori 8th graders at Fraser-Woods School in Newtown, CT.   Essentially a huge independent-study project, their job this month was to write the proposal for the project in a middle-school sized "thesis proposal" format.  Essentials for beginning a large scale project at the middle school level:
  1. One of the most important tools I have is my Timeline.  It helps me organize myself with backwards-design principles...starting from the nights I know they have to present and having an idea of how long each stage will take, I design the timeline to fit the time we have.  My class webpage is on Google Sites, and Google Sites has a page template called a "List" that you can use to create your timeline.  
  2. If you take a look at my timeline, you'll see that it is formatted like a checklist and has four columns, including one that is called "Related Documents".  This is my favorite column.  It allows me to attach a link to a template, related website, how-to video or google document that the students need to complete the assignment.  This relieves everyone of the "I lost my copy of the assignment" excuse and, frankly, the kids love this feature. **Note, if you put a link there to a google document, make sure you share the document publicly in GoogleDocs first.  
  3. I ask that all of my students print out the list at the beginning of the project and tack it up somewhere at home where they can easily refer to it at any time.
  4. You can update the list at any time.  I update due-dates regularly, because we are a Montessori school and our schedule is interrupted often with special events, trips, speakers and activities.  I always announce list updates clearly in class and I will often provide copies for major changes so the kids are aware of the changes.
  • To create that type of page, click on the create page icon on the top right side of the homepage after you have signed in.  Then click on the drop-down menu under the heading Select a template to use.  Select List from the dropdown menu.
  • Name the page.  Try a name that includes "Timeline", like "Science Fair Timeline".
  • You can even customize the URL of the timeline page by clicking change URL.  This will only change the last part of the url to your desired characters.
  • Select a location for the page.   If you have created the Google Site solely to create the timeline, then click Put page at the top level>Create and voila!  Your timeline page has been created.
  • Now the page prompts you to choose a template for the list.  If you know you have specific column headings for the list you want, click Create your own>use template.
  • A box entitled "Customize Your List" will pop up.  If you want your timeline to look like mine,  you will need four columns.  Type the column name "Completed?" into the box.  Click Type>Checkbox.
  • Add New Column>"Assignment name" under column name.  Type>Text
  • Add New Column>"Due Date" under column name.  Type>Date
  • Add New Column>"Related Documents/Websites" under column name. Type>URL
  • To sort your items by due date (which I recommend, but you can change this at any time by clicking Customize this list once you have created the list) click First Sort by> Due Date>Ascending>Save.  
  • To add items to the list once it is created, click the Add Item button.  Don't check Completed? until the due date for the item has passed.  Enter the assignment name, the due date and any related documents that you'd like to attach.  
  • There you go!  Project timeline Checklist!


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