First decide what you want to achieve and then think about content, skills and tools you need to achieve that outcome. The first step in planning a unit of work should be determining your learning intentions for students - what outcomes do you hope for from teaching these lessons? These will be aligned to the VELS or National Achievement Standards for each particular year level. You will also need to think about the success criteria - How will your students demonstrate their skill or understanding? I believe it is important to give students some choice in their learning - same learning outcome but using different routes to get there. This assists them to take responsibility for their own learning.
How do I get to know my students better, so I can determine what they might be capable of and what their interests are?
  • A student survey at the beginning of the year can help you to find out about your students skills, interests, experiences and what they may be aiming for in the future.
  • Google Docs is a great way to create surveys that can be embedded in blogs.
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What is the 'hook' for this lesson?
  • How will you excite and engage students so they want to be part of the learning?
  • YouTube and Vimeo have a huge range of videos that can be used to 'hook' students.
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How do I find out what students already know about a topic?
  • Show them five pictures about the topic and ask them to describe what they know. (Flickr)
  • Brainstorm the topic and paste the words into Tagxedo or Wordle to create a word cloud.
  • Build a mindmap (individually or as a class) to find out the connections between different concepts.
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Where can students find relevant and factual information, without wasting too much time searching?
  • Create a #tag in Delicious or Diigo and collect useful sites so students can find them easily.
  • Social bookmarking enables you to save and share your web links online, so you can access them from any computer.
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How can my students connect with experts or other students to build their collective knowledge?
  • Skype and Blackboard Collaborate are two tools that can be used to collaborate with students, other teachers and experts around the state, across the country or overseas.
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How can students demonstrate their understanding of a topic?
  • Creating a video is a great way to demonstrate understanding of a topic - but it can be time consuming if students lack focus. The Science.TV has some good advice and resources for creating videos, including story board and script templates. Make sure your students complete a storyboard and script before they start filming, so they don't waste too much time editing.
  • Create a video with Animoto - this uses images only, so they may need to submit a text response too.
  • Create a speaking character with Blabberize or Voki. Again, they will need to write the script first.
  • Create a cartoon using Comic Life - use photographs they have taken themselves and annotated with speech bubbles.
  • Create a Slideshow and upload to Slideshare for blogs and wikis.
  • Create a Quiz with images using Quiz Revolution or Quizlet.
  • Use Glogster to create an Online poster.
  • Use Voicethread to upload images and students can annotate with text or add audio to describe the experiment, process, reaction or cycle or to name the parts.
  • Use a Flip video to film a science experiment, interview with a scientist or a role play and edit it in Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. Upload to YouTube to share.
  • You can enter short science videos in the 60-second Science Video competition.
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How can I assess all the different products fairly, if each student produces something unique?
  • Make sure students understand the learning intention - make it explicit to them. It is important, when you give students choice, that you are specific about what you want students to demonstrate - give them the success criteria and a rubric to assist them.
  • Rubistar is an easy to use site for creating rubrics.
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What is a quick way I can assess understanding at the end of a lesson?
  • Padlet is an online site where you can post a question for students to answer by giving them a URL link. They access the wall and can post their own sticky note with an answer to your question, an observation or of the lesson or something they have learnt.
  • "Answer Garden" is another similar site.
  • Edistorm is another site for discussing ideas, organising thoughts and sharing text.
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How can I assist my students to revise before tests or exams?
  • Quizlet is a fantastic free site to create digital flashcards of terms and definitions which can be used in a variety of ways.
  • Students can create Flashcards with terms and definitions and print them out or test each other online.
  • Students can create their own multiple choice quizzes using Quiz Revolution and email them to friends, host them on a blog or try them online.
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