I adore projects and activities that can reflect, enhance, and extend learning.
Projects we’ve tackled over the years include:
- Mind maps of social studies, science, and literature topics
- Power point presentations
- Models and Kits
- Activities such as raising butterflies or creating closed terrariums to model the water cycle
It’s difficult though, coming up with projects and activities for the older student, especially in non-science areas.
I am very excited to share with you a new resource for middle school:
Differentiated Lessons for Every Learner
Differentiated Lessons for Every Learner: Standards- Based activities and Extensions for Middle School
I can plan YEARS worth of projects with this book!
The book was sent to me free as a part of Library Thing’s early reviewer program. I became impressed and flooded with ideas within a few moments of thumbing through it. It will be useful for my middle school aged daughter next year, as well as an good springboard for ideas with her younger and older siblings.
It offers lesson descriptions that are aligned to “depth of knowledge” levels, as well as Common Core Standards and National Curriculum standards. As a home-school teacher, I am not required to follow either, but they can be helpful in planning to meet certain goals as well as end of year paperwork for the state.
Depth of Knowledge
Depth of Knowledge is a leveled way to evaluate learning which “categorizes tasks according to the complexity of thinking required to successfully complete them.” (1)
The book provides lessons in English, Math, Science, Social Studies and “special subjects” like Art and foreign language. The idea is to plan activities and extensions based on the student’s current level of knowledge and ability.
For example, in lesson 3:19 “Discovery and Colonization” a level one activity is to “create a series of diary entries of a famous explorer.” A level two activity is to “Design a mural depicting several aspects of life in a specific colony.” Level three is to investigate the positives and negatives of exploring and colonization. Level four asks the question, “Do we own what we discover?”
Is it really for every learner?
The writers assume a writing ability my son with a classic autism diagnosis just does not have. I cannot think of a means, even with extra support that could assist him in completing most of these assignments. Using the lesson mentioned above as an example, asking him to write a diary entry would be too much. I think that students with impairments in language processing, writing, and reading would have similar issues. However if the student is working at a middle school writing level, the tasks are workable. I do think it would be possible to design more visual, less writing reliant activities using this book as a guide.
These ideas are excellent. As I integrate these ideas into our school day, I’ll get back to you on how they are in actual practice.