Using Discussion Chips for Science Discussions

I love having a scientific conversation in my room. However, I want to hold everyone accountable and contribute to the discussion. As I was researching ways to hold students accountable I came across an awesome Kagan Strategy called Talking chips.

From kaganonline.com

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So basically you give students discussion chips and each time they talk they place their chip in the middle. If they run out then they have to wait until everyone has run out of chips. This works great for small groups and with the correct set up the entire class.

I usually set a specific topic of discussion. Then, I use poker chips as discussion chips, but any math manipulative would work. How do you regulate discussion in your classroom?

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Medieval Feasts and Multimedia

I cannot believe how quickly this semester is going by. It seems like we just started and now the third quarter is over. I have been busy as usual with lesson plans and professional development. The cold season (as in the sickness and not the temperature) in my area has been awful. I have had kids coughing and hacking for weeks. Vitamin C, anyone! Other than that my spring semester is going quite well.

We recently finished a unit on Romeo and Juliet. When my students first learned we were reading Shakespeare they were a little intimidated. As English language learners this happens often when they believe that a text is too hard for them to understand. We started the unit with an easy and interesting assignment. I gave their parents a homework assignment (the kids thought this was awesome), they had to write a letter to their son or daughter about what they wanted in a future spouse. On a previous post you can see that I got some very interesting responses. Another way that I helped my students was by providing sections from No Fear Shakespeare at key points. This is available free on the web on the Sparks Notes website.  I will caution you that some of the material needs to be looked at closely. I found some very foul language and some quite risque sexual scenes described in some of the translation. With the No Fear Shakespeare I added some hands-on activities and role-plays. When we finished they were surprised that they read Shakespeare and begrudgingly admitted that they actually enjoyed most of it! We celebrated by having a Shakespearean feast and watching Gnomeo and Juliet (which they wrote a compare/contrast essay about).

Here are some links to the activities I used in my unit:

In my science and drama classes I have discovered that they really enjoy making videos. I have had my students create videos as culminating projects at the end of our units. I have been amazed at the products they have created. I will be posting some of them (hopefully) as soon as I get parental permission.

How do you use multimedia in your classes?