Fifth graders finished a unit on geology this week by demonstrating their understanding of the rock cycle through presentations for their peers. Science teacher, Andy Dodge, allowed them to choose from six options or develop their own creative ideas. The rock cycle describes how rocks undergo changes of form — a metamorphic rock can become an igneous rock, or a sedimentary rock can become a metamorphic one.
“I’ve been pleased that so many chose the ‘other’ option and came up with funky, creative ideas that I would have never thought of,” says Mr. Dodge. “One student is coding, another is doing claymation and time lapse animation. When they have freedom of choice, I really see them investing in their projects and using innovation skills like creative problem solving.”
Griffin Adams used “boxes and duct tape and sharpies” to make a 3D diagram of the role volcanoes play in turning molten rock and lava into igneous rocks. “The hardest part was finding examples of the rocks to display,” he says. He also created a slideshow of the rock cycle to accompany his diagram.
Finley Bell and Maddie Remington elected to team up and design a board game that encourages players to learn facts, terminology and stages related to the rock cycle. Others, like Zander Young and Natasha Mannsfeld, used digital platforms such as a Minecraft-style learning tool and a virtual reality experience to show their rock smarts.
While students worked on their presentations, Mr. Dodge noted they displayed a “high tolerance for failure and figuring things out.” He was proud that fifth graders felt confident taking risks and trying new approaches. They will be assessed on creativity, information, time invested and overall quality. Fifth graders are true rock stars!
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.