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Fractals, An Inquiry: Day 5
Grade Level(s): 6–8
This unit is designed as a UDL approach to supporting student understanding of scientific inquiry. Students experience first-hand each step in the inquiry process and how the steps systematically build toward understanding. A simple art activity that involves creating fractals with paint serves as the context for the inquiry. By situating an introduction to inquiry in art, students who might feel reluctant or incompetent in science have an alternative environment for engaging in the inquiry process. Exploring scientific inquiry through art is also a way to enable students to experience the inquiry process as a natural, sometimes spontaneous process that is intrinsic to many learning experiences.
Fractals, intriguing in their complexity and beauty, have been charted mathematically, and serve as the connection for the inquiry. By experimenting with the effects of various art media on the formation of fractals, such as the thickness of paint or types of paper used to make them, students' initial encounter with the inquiry process occurs in a non-threatening, intuitive way, so they will arrive at an understanding of the inquiry process inductively.
Lesson Description for Day
In today's activities, students will learn the process and criteria for generating an effective report of their inquiries into fractals. Students will be provided with multiple report options for expressing their knowledge of the inquiry process.
Over the next few days, students will need time to complete their reports both in and out of class.
Florida Sunshine State Standards:
The student uses the scientific processes and habits of mind to solve problems. (SC.H.1.3)
The student understands that most natural events occur in comprehensible, consistent patterns. (SC.H.2.3)
1. Recognizes that patterns exist within and across systems
California State Standards:
Investigation and Experimentation
Scientific progress is made by asking meaningful questions and conducting careful investigations. As a basis for understanding this concept and addressing the content in the other three strands, students should develop their own questions and perform investigations.
- Students will gain an understanding of the process of scientific inquiry.
- Students will gain independence in conducting and reporting on their own inquiries.
- Students will become aware that scientific inquiries can happen anywhere, and are a natural part of exploring the world.
- Students will understand the steps they need to take to compose a quality report on the inquiry process.
- Students will develop a plan for their Inquiry Report Projects.
Time frame: 5 minutes
Have students turn to a partner and share why they think it is important to report on the findings of a scientific inquiry. Then, invite volunteers to share with the class.
If student responses don't include the following, then be sure to raise these issues:
Reporting on an inquiry means that you contribute to a community of learners who share their knowledge.
Your report might help others understand aspects of their own inquiry.
Your report might spark interest in others for a new inquiry.
It's fun to share the results of your investigation and hard work, and to have concrete evidence of your work.
Introduce the Assignment:
Time Frame: 15 minutes
Share with students that now is the step in the inquiry process that involves reporting on their methods, observations, and conclusions with others.
Tell the class that they will have options for the form their reports take, and that they can choose to work with a partner or individually.
If they work with a partner, they will need to submit a work plan that outlines each partner's responsibilities and goals.
Write the following report options on the board, or share them as a handout:
Oral Presentation—Students must use visual aids for this option, such as Power Point, Presentation Boards, Props, etc.
Online Blog—With this form of presentation, students not only report on the inquiry itself, but they should also share their feelings and reactions about their artwork and the process of making it. How did they feel when they first saw their fractals? What personal challenges did they experience during the inquiry? How did they overcome them?
Written Report with the inclusion of their fractal art, preferably labeled and captioned.
A 'Talking Gallery' of fractal inquiries, involving mounting and hanging them, along with corresponding posters describing the inquiry process itself and their conclusions.
A Book of Fractal Inquiries: Students can photograph their fractals digitally and generate a written report in book format.
Develop Criteria for An Effective Report:
Time Frame: 15 minutes
Share the attached assessment rubrics with students, so they know in advance what is expected for an excellent report. Remind students that regardless of the form of their report, they must include all the elements in the rubric that clearly describe the scientific methods, observations, and conclusions that were part of their inquiries.
Have students refer to the attached Self Assessment Rubric as they work on their reports. Before making revisions, they should fill out the chart to reflect where their work is now, and what they need to do to improve it before submitting it.
Provide one class period for students to publish their reports to the class. If time constraints don't allow each individual student to share with the entire class, have small groups of students share their reports with one another.
As students work on their reports in-class over the next few days, be sure to conduct mini conferences in order to determine where students are in the process. Help them generate solutions to any problems they might encounter. You might want to make a chart with each student's name across the top, and where in the process they are: planning, drafting, revising, proofreading, preparing finished presentation. Then, you can note each student's progress and help them meet the deadlines you establish.
Evaluating the Inquiry Reports:
Use the attached rubric to evaluate students' reports of their inquiries. Attach a copy of the rubric to each report, with each sub score highlighted, so students have a detailed analysis of their projects.