Chelsea Murray, 8th grade science teacher at Baines Middle School in Missouri City, TX, and her colleague Stacy Vinson, have given their students a menu project – students choose which project they would like to complete in order to show their teacher what they have learned about the moon and tides. Murray believes that this type of project allows students to learn in a more meaningful way and truly engages the students.
Murray explains that she and Vinson have attended several professional development sessions on menus. After Vinson successfully assigned her students a menu last semester, they both planned to assign another menu project this semester. “Our goal for this particular menu was to allow students to not only show us what they understand from what we taught them about moon phases, but to also learn about how the moon affects the tides on earth. We wanted our students to have more ownership of their work instead of simply filling in blanks on a worksheet,” she said.
Murray recommends that educators introduce menus to their classrooms. “Menus give students the opportunity to express their learning in a way that makes sense to them. Students also take more pride in work they create, and tend to spend more time on the subject than if they were simply answering questions provided by the teacher,” Murray explained. After giving the students a survey at the completion of the project, students mentioned that they enjoyed having the chance to choose what to submit.
The 8th grade science teacher added that this also gives “struggling/reluctant” students an opportunity to shine. “Many times I have art, writing, or even technology as an option. This allows those students who might not do well on traditional work, to work in a manner that best suits his/her learning style. I was very hesitant at first because I thought it would create a mountain of grading. I have learned that if I set strict deadlines for my students and for myself, I can get the grading done in a timely manner. I love seeing the creativity of my students that I otherwise might not ever see,” she added.
Visit Murray’s class website, to learn more about the moon and tides menu project.
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