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Expert Projects: Sound, Heat and Light

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Keywords: sound, heat, light, webpage, research report, inquiry based learning, fourth grade, science
Subject(s): Science, English/Language Arts, Writing, Physics
Grades 4 through 12
School: Hoboken Charter School, Hoboken, NJ
Planned By: Amanda Kouzis
Original Author: Amanda Kouzis, Hoboken
Expert Projects: Sound, Heat & Light
Mrs. Kouzis and Ms. Norman
June 2010

"Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand." -Unknown

The theory behind this wise quote by an unknown source is the reason why we took on such a big project. All learners, especially children, learn best when they are actively engaged in the learning process. Expert projects are a wonderful way to provide students with this sort of experience. Expert projects are designed to allow students to individualize and actively engage in learning the particular topic that they have chosen. The following steps describe the process in detail.

1. We announced our new Science topic: Sound, Heat and Light. We explained to students that we would not be teaching this unit but that they were going to become experts and teach what they had learned to the class. Immediately the students showed enthusiasm at the chance to become teachers.
2. We set up a Wander and Wonder where students could wander around the room (which was set up with books on sound, heat and light) with their planning guide and record their questions or comments.
3. Students reflected on their writings and choose which area they wanted to focus on. We then grouped the students according to interest. When announcing the groups we gave students the choice to work alone or stay with the group.
4. Students began researching their topic using nonfiction books. Each student had a project planning guide where they recorded their learnings and made connections to other content areas.
5. Students continued to research their topic for about a month. They also had to find and evaluate websites connected to their topic. The final part of their planning guide was to interview another expert. Most students chose to interview the high school and middle school Science teachers. One group even interviewed a Fire Inspector.
6. Once the research was complete students wrote and typed their report and prepared for the presentations. We uploaded the reports to our class website, www.hcsfourthgrade.webs.com, and the students presented their newly acquired knowledge to the class.

Students were graded on three main components: the planning guide, the report and the presentations. Students received whata rubic that outlined what they needed to do to receive a + (no or little teacher assistance), (some teacher assistance), and a C (a lot of teacher assistance).
Links: Our Class Website
Materials: Web Page, Word Processor, Printers, Portable, Mobile Labs, Whiteboards, Student Resources