Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Interactive Notebooks and Challenge Based Learning - #3 (The Aha Board)

In my first post on Interactive Notebooks and Challenge Based Learning I skimmed over the concept of The Aha Board.  In the book Teaching Science with Interactive Notebooks by Kellie Marcarelli she talks about these boards being used to hold the students' learning on the major concepts of each unit. We have modified this concept a bit to meet our needs within the process of  Challenge Based Learning (CBL) . What we have done is basically created an interactive challenge map or web. We have put the challenge in the middle and taken large Post -Its and wrote a Guiding Question on each. As students have made their way through their research they have written on smaller Post-Its the things they have learned and how they learned that under each Guiding Question.

    Oneco's Gifted Program has been working with CBL for about four years now and each year our process has become more and more refined. This would also included training students to take more ownership in the CBL process itself.  In the past, my students were able to effectively carry out CBL Challenges, but struggled to see where they were in the process especially in the Guiding Questions, Guiding Resources and Guiding Activities Components. Although, we had attempted to keep track of the process through packets and other such formats, these avenues had left us frustrated at times. It might have been that my elementary school students needed something a bit more concrete, maybe they feel more accountable now that the people entering our classroom can see their work in progress or they just enjoy putting Post-Its on the cabinet. My guess it a is combination of all those things and that is okay with me since The Aha-Boards effectiveness has certainly been AMAZING.  Since they have been introduced students have been using the evidence demonstrated on their group's board to discuss the quality of the research being done and what their next steps in the process should be. We were not seeing this type of metacognition before the Aha-Boards were introduced and my students have learn to depend on them.

Last week a few of my students and I were discussing the need to reflect on strategies that we use in hopes that they will become part of our learning toolbox. To prove my point, I pulled up my recent blog posts on our use of Interactive Notebooks and Challenge Based Learning. After reading my first post, these students turned on me a bit and wanted to know why I had just skimmed over The Aha-Boards. Honestly, they got just a little heated about my neglect in this matter.  Then these eight year olds went on to explain why they felt they were important, why we need them and why others should hear about them. I had to promise that within the next couple of weeks I would remedy the situation. I have done my best to cover everything we talked about in this post and I do hope I have done them proud. However, I promise if I missed something they will let me know. 

It is my hope to one day have these Aha-Boards go digital, but I truly felt that we need this concert model first.

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