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Showing posts from April, 2014

Forces and Motion - RAFT Retractor Car

As part of the forces and motion unit my students had the opportunity to play around with the RAFT Retractor Car Activity Kit. The modified activity [available at https://docs.google.com/document/d/17grd41wMyBj7kjTaZgBZk7x-trCcrDeQxNyx1LWYRhc/pub] involved the students building the vehicle [as specified by the project page] then deciding what they wanted to test. Students had several options:
how will the car perform over various surface types?how might the speed or distance be impacted if the car has to travel up an incline?how would increasing the mass on the car impact the speed or distance the car travels?how could the design be adjusted to make the car go further or faster?As usual, only one person selected to try this activity, at least until the rest of the students saw the car cruise across the classroom floor. Thank goodness for those students who are ‘early adopters’ and willing to try something unknown. In the end there were several groups who performed the surface test; one…

RAFT and Common Core

As we approach the full implementation of Common Core and the Next Gen Science standards the classroom has become a far more busy and chaotic place.  Lots of learning with lots of mess and noise.
My curriculum is all designed around a grid system where students need to accumulate a certain number of points via various assignments and projects.

My first grid is learning the basics: like vocabulary, concepts, ideas, laws, formulas, etc.   There are even choices within each choice [ridiculous!]. Most of these assignments involve writing, reading, watching videos, or using a digital media to create a learning tool [ex flashcards, vocabulary game...]
My second grid is where the students apply what they learned via grid #1 and any offline/in class learning to USE their knowledge to create or complete something.  RAFT is indispensable for these types of activities.  For our forces and motion unit the students utilized four different RAFT kits in addition to all my weird RAFT supplies.
So pic…

In the Beginning

I began teaching at Mt. Hamilton Elementary in the early to mid 90’s. Mt. Hamilton School was a one room school located at Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton. I was the only teacher, and I had grades K-8 in one room (I did not always have a child in every grade). Lick Observatory is located some 20 or more miles east of San Jose in the Diablo Range. Being the only teacher I had to find other ways of networking and collaborating, and RAFT was one resource.

My first experience with RAFT was when you were in the other location. Was that in Sunnyvale? I remember walking in and thinking what is all this stuff, but on my out I saw a bin full of white binders that said FREE. I took some and, my relationship with RAFT was born.

Pat Graham, Teacher and RAFT Fellow