May 24, 2010

Today we thought we’d share some of the feedback from the In-School testing which is underway on the prototype Teacher Guide for Seymour’s EARTHQUAKES book. This testing is happening in conjunction with the creation of thirty Teacher Guides to be used with his books. They will be available online for free teacher downloads by the time schools resume in the autumn of 2010.

For those interested in the anecdotal highlights of the in-school testing, here is feedback from fellow science writer Jordan Brown, who is collaborating with us on both the writing and testing.

 Highlights of the 3rd grade class testing:


* Kids enjoyed having "Why I Wrote this Book" from Seymour Simon read aloud. One of the teachers shared her story about experiencing an earthquake in Seattle.

* As you might expect, any opportunity for children to share personal stories captured group interest. One boy told about visiting California recently and experiencing his first earthquake.

* The 3rd graders really liked the "Make a Quake" website. We did this online activity several times, changing the variables to see how damaged the building became.

* Many kids were very surprised to learn how frequent earthquakes are.

* They also enjoyed when I passed around the hard-boiled egg with the cracked shell still on (like cracked plates around Earth). Spontaneously, I had all kids press their palms together forcefully, then have one of the hands push upward, so they could imitate the motion of faults sliding passed each other.

* For the building activity, I made the challenge a bit tougher for the third graders. I told students to build a building as tall as they could—but also try to stabilize it. Otherwise, I feared they would just make long, flat structures. All but one of the buildings they made held up when, as a group, we tested them out by shaking a plastic plate beneath each model.

From the Kindergarten Testing:

* Kids loved looking at the dramatic photos when I flipped through the book—but some of the kindergartners got a little scared. I made a point of reassuring them that the chances of a big, dangerous earthquake in our area was very rare.

* Class was fascinated by the map on page 12 (in which every small red dot represents where an EQ has occurred).

* When talking about why scientists can’t predict precisely when an EQ will occur—one child made the comparison to a balloon being blown up. If you keep blowing, eventually it will pop—but you don’t know exactly when.

* Building activity was a big hit - The teacher commented that she really loved watching the groups of children having to work together to figure out a possible solution. When some of the groups had trouble coming up with a self-standing building (I only provided a small number of materials, so they had to think creatively), they got inspiration and ideas by looking at each other’s work.

If you are interested in giving us feedback on this prototype, we would LOVE to hear from you. You can download a free copy of the Teacher Guide for Seymour Simon’s EARTHQUAKES by clicking on this link.


Posted by: Liz Nealon

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