Session 5; bright and early on a Tuesday morning. I love a busy conference! Today’s first session was about using LDC modules in science classes. Our presenter was Chree Vaughn from Georgia.
We started off with a primer on LDC, complete with an introductory video that explained how to fill out the LDC template, so right away I knew I was right where I belonged: a roomful of beginners, or at least a roomful of people that the presenter assumed were beginners.
We moved next into writing types. Chree explained several options, including crime scene reports, blogs, letters, etc. She advised us to stay away from tradition lab reports and essays, apparently to avoid student burnout and disinterest.
The next step, of course is to create the writing prompt, a crucial step that lays the foundation for the rest of the module. Sloppy prompt creation leads to trouble. Chree learned from experience that working with another teacher is one way to avoid blindly moving forward with a lame prompt that won’t get students engaged.
Of course engagement has to be balanced with rigor and attention to standards and curriculum; the trick is to “sneak” argumentation and essay writing into something that seems authentic to students.
The example Chree presented was a module called “How Can Chemistry be used to Solve Crimes?” It was written for high school students. She led us through each day of the module. One of the tips she doled out was to assign part of the reading as homework; she found that assigning too much reading in class felt like wasted time.
She also encouraged “Baby Steps” regarding implementation of LDC. She suggested that we start with a series of mini lessons or focusing on essential vocabulary before constructing an entire module. Personally, I think writing a complete module is doable, even for a beginner. My own advice would be to write one or two modules the first year and gradually add more modules each year.
After her introduction to LDC modules and a few tips and warnings, Chree opened the floor for sharing. There were some good ideas in the room. A teacher from Louisiana described a module that involved a local animal shelter and animal adoption for her middle schoolers. It sounded like her kids were extremely engaged. This highlights an important aspect of LDC: used properly, the template ensures that students are focused on the CCSS while the teacher selects topics and prompts that are interesting to students.
Another guy explained his module that employed the EPA report format; his students did environmental reports on local streams and were delighted to find out that their products were similar in format to official EPA reports.
Then there was the lady who talked about her module that explored a local crisis in which wild chihuahuas were attacking the human population. Hmm.
Chree reminded us that there are a lot of modules that are already created available on the LDC website, in case someone needs a little help getting started.
This presentation was a little too guarded for my taste. Although I appreciate the need to go slow when adopting something new, there was a little too much warning about going “all in” with LDC. I found that LDC module writing seems more daunting than it really is, but perhaps that’s a result of going through an excellent training series. (Thanks, Lindsay!)