Thursday, June 26, 2008

Crunch Time--A Hierarchically Based Science Course for Elementary Students: Part 4a

I just realized I have only six weeks until the first course! The good news is I know the general outline I want to follow for the first month. I need to write it down. Then I need to figure out any equipment I want and order it. While I'm waiting for that, I'll work on the rest of the course. One thing I definitely want is a total course overview. That way I'll have some milestones to compare myself against. Once I have something more formal, I'll share!


objectivistDad said...

To teach any subject, I suppose one should start by asking: "what 5 or 6 broad things are the most important ones for a student to grasp in this subject?" i.e. If this subject has a backbone, what are the five vertebra that keep it up?

When one has those, for each of those -- in turn -- one can ask the same question. Following a rule of 5 sub-parts (plus/minus one) seems like the way to go.

For instance, in Physics, Harriman has a top-10 list. Imagine a student who has a really good understanding of what those top 10 are, how they were discovered, what their implications are, etc. That, on its own, would imply a good grasp of Physics.

I assume the same would work, say, for U.S. History. If I start with the question: what are the 5 key events or periods, I'll be forced to essentialize. If a student understands the mechanics and unfolding of those 5 key events/periods, he'll end up with a pretty good grasp of U.S. history.

LB said...

Okay. I'll be waiting.

What did I miss? Why do you have only 6 weeks? Are you shooting to start in the summer, or did you account for vacations?

I'm still slogging through the Joy Hakim books. While I agree with your initial assessment of distracting sidebars and generally random layout, I still like the basic text. But don't wait for me. I haven't written down a thing but this comment.

I am struggling, as always, with what to join, what to leave, and what would be best for the teacher and her one lucky student in the upcoming year.

Kim said...

I want(ed) to start on August 12th. That's the same time period hubby is starting his astronomy course again. That's the six weeks.

For the essentials, I prefer to work backward. If it was for adults, I'd say "What are the really important things to know about physics?" The obvious answers are magnetism, electricity, classic gravity theory, and light. Then I'd take each topic (you'll note that I already took a step down by seperating magnetism, electricity, and light) and figure out what major discoveries had to take place to find out about each. For electricity there were a number of neat steps! The initial attraction was observed (Thales with amber), the ability to transmit the attraction over distance, the attraction disappeared into the earth via wires, the attraction would not leave objects that were separated from the earth with wax, the charge can be stored with larger and larger quantities (the Leyden jar), then they realized that objects charged with resin rubbed with wool actually repelled objects charged from glass rubbed with silk; those are all early steps to get us to our modern understanding (that was from "How Did We Find Out About Electricity" by Isaac Asimov--those books are truly life-savers). But elementary students don't need to know about capacitors, so I'll stick with attraction and repulsion, transmission, and will probably only mention conduction and insulation quickly. I don't know if I'm even going to get a chance to pull magnetism and electricity together.

ObjectivistDad, Harriman's Top 10 is a great benchmark to make sure I'm touching on the right points, but I would definitely want the context of what those discoveries meant for our current knowledge. The rule of 5s is a good starting point.

LB, good luck with those schedules! I finished the first book, and meant to write a review--but I'm having too much fun surfing You Tube.