Dr. Sandra Kaplan, from USC, has spent her career researching, developing lessons, and conducting workshops for gifted and talented students. One series she designed is called “Think Like a Disciplinarian”. The purpose of the series is to get students to think about a specific field of discipline. Students take on the mindset of that discipline and begin to look at material through that particular lens. For our gathering, we decided to focus on the discipline of science, particularly ecology.
During the two hour session, our four member team immersed our gifted and talented students in thinking like a scientist.
I opened the session by getting students to think critically and quickly. Students were given a xeroxed page with three science beakers. They were asked to brainstorm types of science and scientists, and share their favorite aspect of science. Then students participated in a 30-second throwdown. Students alternated with their partner saying words that are associated with a hospital, then words associated with a science lab. Quick thinking for sure!
Mrs. Quiroz followed by sharing the importance of developing higher order thinking skills as expressed through Bloom's Taxonomy. She tied it into the day's lesson by showing how recalling facts about ecosystems is at the bottom of Bloom's pyramid compared to designing their own creatures which is at the top. She then showed a venn diagram of the 4C's with creativity in the center. Additionally, she introduced some science content. She engaged students in a review of the animal classifications of mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects including their similarities and differences.
Mrs. Segura extended the science lesson by showing a biome video. While students were watching the video, she had them take notes on a graphic organizer. The six major biomes covered were the desert, grassland, rain forest, deciduous forest, taiga, and tundra. After viewing the video and collaborating with their fellow scientists, students shared their thinking as a group.
Mrs. Millan conducted the culminating activity. She is a big fan of Ian Byrd, the founder of Byrdseed, a website dedicated to better understanding gifted learners. After perusing the numberous articles and videos, she came across "Design an Animal". The challenge for the day was found. Students, in pairs, were to create a unique animal. Using what they know about biomes, animal classifications, and adaptations, our student scientists sketched a new animal, constructed it using modeling clay, named the creature, and wrote a description on an index card. This was by all means the convergence of the day's thinking . . . the designing of an animal.