If one of your goals for this school year is to embrace transformational teaching, Learning A-Z has the resources you need. Transformational teaching departs from the conventional "transmission" model in which teachers perform the role of knowledge-keepers while students are treated as passive receptacles for information. In transformational teaching, educators facilitate students' construction of knowledge and meaning through activities that promote the 21st century skills of critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity as students seek answers to questions and design solutions to real-world problems.
Science A-Z and Raz-Plus allow you to implement a transformational teaching model in your classroom through engaging project-based activities in which students take ownership of their learning, think creatively, and draw their own conclusions.
Science A-Z Investigation Packs
According to Edutopia.org, transformational teachers "focus on enriching students' perspectives on the content by facilitating rich experiences." Such experiences can be implemented in your classroom through a set of short texts called I.Files and corresponding activities that guide students to read closely and make arguments based on text evidence.
First, each student in a small group reads a different I.File that ties into the Key Question (e.g., "What do all arthropods have in common?"). He/she identifies evidence that may help answer the Key Question and writes definitions to new vocabulary based on context.
Second, the small group convenes to share what they read and discuss the clues within each of their I.Files that may help to answer the Key Question.
Third, students come together as a whole class and attempt to reach a consensus about an answer to the Key Question.
Finally, students read a Mystery File and analyze whether the new topic shares all the same key details with the topics in the I.Files, enabling students to check their evidence-based reasoning for validity.
Investigation Packs empower teachers to facilitate collaborative, critical thinking discussions that engage students in analysis and argumentation. The analytical skills that students hone through completing the Investigation Packs are a marker of the transformational learning that accompanies transformational teaching models.
Project-Based Learning Packs from Raz-Plus and Science A-Z
Project-Based Learning Packs also provide opportunities to practice higher-order thinking skills as students explore a variety of themes and driving questions such as, "How can communities use technology to address the problem of disappearing coral reefs?" and "How can students convince others to make changes in the laws and rules in their school or community?"
Students explore answers to these questions by reading various source materials while considering multiple sides of the issue. Teachers can access lesson plans, rubrics, and project outlines that organize activities while students conduct their individual and group explorations. Project-Based Learning Packs include a final presentation in which students share their answer to the driving question and explain how they reached their conclusion.
The Value of Productive Struggle
When embracing transformational teaching, both teachers and students have to get accustomed to new ways of interacting in the classroom. As students work in groups and explore different texts and points of view, noise levels may rise, so you may have to adjust your classroom management strategy to accommodate more active learning. Part of the joy of transformational teaching involves the productive struggle that arises when students are challenged to think creatively: students benefit most from grappling with complex ideas on their own without teachers providing exact answers. The productive struggles that emerge from transformational learning help students retain, comprehend, and later apply new ideas and concepts.
Investigation Packs and PBL Packs can be incorporated into your classroom in a variety of modes, from incorporating some small elements, like readings, to completely dedicating an instructional unit to a PBL approach. Both Science A-Z and Reading A-Z help you become a transformational teacher by promoting "active engagement in developing knowledge and skills" while facilitating student-led interactions.