Here’s a task I gave my 6th graders when we studied plate tectonics:
Judge the greatness of your volcano from two points of view:
- A seismologist studying the volcano. Analyze the characteristics that make this volcano unique.
- An everyday person living by the volcano. Analyze the effects of this volcano on a normal person.
It’s not bad. It needs refinement, though. I do not like the phrase “Analyze the characteristics that make this volcano unique.” What does that even mean? Why did I use the word “analyze.” I’m sure my students just made a list of unique characteristics.
So, here’s how I’d develop this task into a better sequence:
- List the most important characteristics that make this volcano unique. Use the language of a volcanologist.
- Write a paragraph from the scientist’s perspective to convince local billionaire Billy “Big Bucks” Byrd that this volcano is so unique that it must be studied further.
- Write from the perspective of an everyday person who lives near the volcano. You will convince Billy “Big Bucks” Byrd that this is – or isn’t – such a great volcano.
- Develop a slogan for this volcano that uses information from both points of view. Create a poster that builds on this slogan.
Along the way, I’d be sure to model. Modeling is always better than giving more directions. For instance, to show what a slogan might look like, I’d model with the Nile River: The Nile River: fertilizing your crops one day, wiping away your village the next!
And I have video version of this article at Byrdseed.TV for folks who lead PD.