Being the end of term, the students get into that 'slump' where they don't want to do anything overly constructive because they're tired. We are also tired, so school just seems like most people are going through the motions, waiting for the bell to go to signal holidays!!
Year 11 are currently completing their first examinations, so they were in and out of classes or studying. On Wednesday, one of them asked me to come up with something fun to do in our last lesson - so I did. As it turns out, she had an exam on Friday morning, so she missed it... actually, I only had 4 students present in class that day as everyone else was either in an exam or had an exam later that day and requested the time to revise.
I created a small revision type challenge that involved a series of one-word Biology related questions. When they worked out the answers, they used the letters to complete a tinyurl.com address and it took them to part 2 of the challenge. Part 2 included 7 number-based questions that they had to answer and then use the numbers in order to find out the combination to the lock at the front of the room. In the box was individually packaged STEM activities were students had to create a hand using straws, string and sticky tape that would pick up a piece of paper.
Only one student managed to find out the combination - I'm not sure the other three were actively trying :( - but she was very proud of herself and even asked if she could take her package home to work on the Challenge over the holidays!
So - all in all, the time I'd spent creating the Biology Challenge sort of felt a bit wasted as there wasn't the buzz and excitement I'd hoped! Thankfully - I had decided to do a similar activity for Year 7 and they were up straight after, so there was no time to dwell!!
Year 7 came in with their usual excitement and found their Case File folders on their desks with this lesson's Case File. Each lesson, they were given an outline of the outcomes of the lesson in the form of a case file - like the FBI as I had named this unit 'RBI' and they were trying to find out who committed a particular crime! Today's Case File didn't have many instructions, just to find a partner, complete the find-a-word and then use the 5 left over letters on the top row to finish the tinyurl.com address!!
The address for the second part of the Challenge ended up being (for those who want to play along at home!) - tinyurl.com/CHALLENGEMIVTT
This lead them to another instructions page for Part 2 of the Challenge. This told them to click on a link and complete the matching activity before putting the first letter of each answer in alphabetical order and omitting any multiple letters and again, using this to complete the tinyurl.com address!! Again, students were working really well together and ensuring that they read all instructions again and again to work out the clue.
The address that lead them to Part 3 was - tinyurl.com/CHALLENGECDEF
Part 3 was a series of scales that the students had to read including thermometers, measuring cylinders and rulers. This was again another skill we had done, so it really helped to show me who could read the scales accurately as they then had to add all the numbers together and then round it to the closest whole number. This gave them a 3 digit number that unlocked the combination!
The first group to do it was a pair of girls who were a bit slow off the mark, but eventually found their groove. Another pair of girls was close, but was lining up the numbers down the side of the lock rather than along the line!! Eventually, all the girl groups had unlocked the lock with the boys coming, trying and failing. This really showed me that the boys were most likely rushing and not reading the scales /adding the numbers together/or not rounding off properly.
When the box was unlocked, the students were given a different STEM challenge to the Biology students. They found sets of cups, string and a rubber band and needed to create a pyramid with only the equipment they had - NO HANDS!! The students managed to work it out pretty quickly, so as each pair completed the challenge I paired them up with the next couple and they created bigger and bigger pyramids until all the girls were finished and I had teams of 6 girls creating pyramids with 15 cups!! (Some of the boys were still trying to work through the individual parts of the Challenge at this point)
If I was to do this activity again, I'd probably pair up the boys with a girl. It was good to see that there was such a vast difference in the speed at which the students completed the tasks based on gender, but I would like to try to make sure that the boys have an opportunity to complete the task as well. I guess in another sense, this might show the boys that by working together better, reading instructions properly and working through things thoroughly - they might be able to beat the girls!!
We also explored our 'mini ecosystems for the last time before disposing of them. The students created these using 1.2-2L soft drink bottles, soil, seeds and insects that they found around the school. One group were VERY excited about the fact that they had a fairly large centipede living in their ecosystem... even after 5 weeks of being trapped in a closed plastic bottle! It was great to show them how the bottle modeled the water cycle and how plants were producing enough oxygen to keep the centipede alive!
My last 'official' class for the term was my Year 9s. This class is quite challenging with a few boys who really dominate the space and disrupt the environment. Most of the time I have them engaged or doing something active, but Friday afternoons are always a bit harder. They asked for a Kahoot! quiz, so I had spent a solid chunk of time creating a quiz that had 43 questions based on the topic we had just finished. The Internet decided to go on holidays early - so we didn't get to finish the game and all hell ALMOST broke loose!!
Being frustrated and tired, I was ready to just give up - but we ended up playing 'Heads Up' for a bit and had a few laughs and got some of the quiet ones to somehow manage to get a word in over the boys!!!
Period 6 was clean up, but also a good chance to sit and chat to my homeroom kids about what they are doing over the holidays. They are finally coming around and being a little more responsive, so that time was great. We also played 'Heads Up' again and my boy who is on the spectrum and has difficulties in social situations was talking to Year 12 students like it was no big deal!!!
So all in all - even with the dramas/missing kids/dying Internet - it really was a great way to end the term!!!