In science classrooms across the country students are given experiments to perform; they are told what to observe and how to collect data. Even though learners may be having fun in their science classes, are they truly developing essential scientific thinking skills?
This film features a project from 2007 in which first and second graders at the Santa Fe School for the Arts and Sciences were given the opportunity to design experiments to answer their own questions about the physical world. Eight years later, two students and their teacher are asked to reflect on this project and speak about the value of learners behaving as scientists, a skill encouraged by the Next Generation Science Standards. This film celebrates the results of their physics investigations and inspires science teachers to create more authentic learning experiences for students of any age.
This video examines how student work illuminates—and is illuminated by—the following standards: Next Generation Science Standard 2-PS1-2, 1-3, and 1-4.
THE ILLUMINATING STANDARDS PROJECT
In the last two decades of the ‘standards movement’ in American public education, many educators have concluded that ‘teaching to the standards’ and project-based learning are incompatible. Ron Berger (Expeditionary Learning) and Steve Seidel (Harvard Graduate School of Education), co-directors of The Illuminating Standards Project, wondered if this conclusion is true. Indeed, they speculated that long-term, interdisciplinary, arts-infused, community-connected projects may well be one of the best ways to actually see what state standards look like when fully realized in the things students make in school—to make the standards visible.
Three questions frame the work of The Illuminating Standards Project:
What does it look like when state standards are met with integrity, depth, and imagination?
How can we use standards to open up and enrich curriculum, rather than narrow and constrain it?
How can we use student work to raise the level of our understanding of standards and our dialogue about them?
THE VIDEOS AND HOW TO USE THEM
Collaborating with Berger and Seidel on The Illuminating Standards Project, over 30 students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education have explored these questions by choosing projects from Models of Excellence and considering the ways in which those projects did—and didn’t—meet specific state standards. Further, they examined how the student work illuminated the standards—and vice versa. Many of those students created short films and many of those films are presented here.
We invite you to watch these films, and we encourage you to use them as the catalyst for discussions with your colleagues about the relationship between your commitment to meet demanding state standards and approaches to designing powerful learning experiences for our students. See a suggested protocol for viewing linked below, along with selected videos from the series. (The complete list of videos in the series can be found here.)