IV. Preparation

Student Preparation
There were a number of ways that Heritage teachers helped prepare their 10th grade science students for teaming with the 5th grade students. Prior to the first visit, the 10th grade students brainstormed as a class:

  1. The importance of having heroes or mentors
  2. What makes a good mentor?
  3. Do’s and don’ts of a mentor/mentee relationship

The Heritage students wrote a brief letter to their 5th grade buddy introducing themselves, their hobbies, interests, past experiences with science fairs, and their expectations of what they how hoped to get out of the science fair experience.

The Heritage students began by learning how to mentor 5th graders in topic selection and investigation. While this was a review for many 10th graders in how to create a hypothesis, it soon became readily evident that they would have to not only thoroughly understand the concept, but also be able to teach the idea to their fifth grade partners.

The Heritage students got together with their 5th grade buddies three times during the course of the project. The sessions were facilitated by teachers an included ice breakers, sharing the interactive journals, brainstorming possible ideas for the science fair, and reviewing the scientific process:

  • Question: (What are you trying to find out?)
  • Hypothesis: (What do you think will happen?)
  • Materials: (What do you need to set up your investigation? Include a labeled diagram.)
  • Procedure: (What steps do you need to take to do your investigation?)
  • Results: (What happened? Show your results in a data table)
  • Conclusion: (What does your data mean?)

The 10th grade students also reviewed the elements of a science fair exhibit and the steps involved in preparing for the science fair. This included:

  1. Establishing clear behavior expectations,
  2. Explaining to their buddies the importance of dressing up for presentations,
  3. Reviewing the science fair schedule (multiple times),
  4. Working on presentation skills via role playing, and
  5. Teaming with11th grade AVID students to get help/coaching with work with mentoring.

Teacher Preparation
In preparation for the science fair, the Heritage teachers and their elementary colleagues met twice to plan how the students would spend their time together, discuss how to prepare their students to work together, and share their lessons.

“It was a two-way street from planning to execution. It gave us all a greater appreciation for what happens in other buildings and grade-levels in the district,” according to fifth-grade teacher Sherri Ike.

To develop a shared understanding of how to score the science fair boards, the district held an after school event before the actual fair to judge the boards. (Presentations were scored separately during the fair.) Scoring participants included the elementary, middle and high school teachers of science. Some had been directly involved in the vertical teaming and others had not. Other judges included elementary-level Professional Development Specialists (PDSs), “science knowledgeable” community members, science administrators and even a high school student teacher.

This was a diverse group, but the anchoring activity and subsequent conversations during scoring (see Power point) helped to get everyone on the same page, allowed for clarification of their understandings and opportunities to learn from each other. The conversations were often rich as judges, at times, struggled to equitably apply the science rubric. For example, there was much debate about what constituted a repeated trial. This scoring session allowed for conversations that otherwise would not have occurred.

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