Mystery Science has been my go-to science resource this year, and I highly recommend it! It offers engaging, interactive lessons (they call them mysteries, which is fun) that give kids hands-on learning. My students absolutely LOVE Mystery Science, and I’m thrilled that my school has already purchased a subscription for next year along with all the supplies I will need. Woo-hoo!!
A Free Resource from Mystery Science
If your school can’t/won’t buy a subscription (the lessons are free until June 2018) then there’s a free alternative resource available for you. Every week, Mystery Science publishes online a free short video that answers their “Question of the Week.” This video isn’t meant to be your entire science curriculum, but it does make a great supplement and is something my students always look forward to watching.
Earlier in the school year, I posted about how I was using the weekly video with my own students. We would watch the video together and pause to discuss the question. Then, after the video was done, I had my students write 3 facts they had learned from the Mystery Science video. 3 facts written in complete sentences earned you 3 points. Easy. Recently, my students and I have been transitioning into becoming a Google Classroom where more and more of our learning is taking place online. I wondered how I could transform my paper-and-pencil version of this assignment into one that was completely digital. The answer was to use the Question feature in my Google Classroom.
Once a week, I post a question in our Google Classroom with a link to the most current Mystery Science video. You can find these at their website or on their YouTube channel. They also have a Facebook page, or you can sign up and receive them through your email. Lots of options!
I like to number my assignments in Google Classroom as it makes finding/organizing the folders in Google Drive that much easier. Then I simply post the question: “What are three facts you learned from watching this video?” Below that I type some additional instructions: “Watch the video. Post the answer to your question in a single comment. Use some of the vocabulary featured in the video in your answer. Remember – writers signal the start of a new sentence with capital letters and its end with punctuation.” Students plug their headphones into the computer and click on the link to watch the video. Afterwards, they post their answer. I allow my students to take notes while watching the video, which they can then refer to while writing their answer.
You can see how two of my students answered the question. Students can only see the responses of other students after they have posted their own. They can also, as in the case with Mabel and Addyson, comment on each other’s responses. I like how Mabel took the initiative to remind Addyson of our written response expectations according to our rubric. If you want, you can allow your students to edit their responses in order to revise them for a better grade.
Grading Student Responses
Google keeps track of how many students have “done” the assignment, which makes me feel like I have my own personal digital assistant! #loveit When everyone has turned in their work online, I can scroll down the screen and read their responses. I can simply enter a grade on the left-side of the screen, or if I can click on “reply” to give a student personalized, private feedback about their response. Once I’ve graded all the responses, I simply click “Return” at the top of the screen and scores are released to students to see privately.
I can’t say enough good things about how transforming this assignment into a digital version has taken it from good to great, in my opinion.
- No more time spent at the copy machine and cutting board to make the paper version.
- Less time spent between grading the assignment and returning it to students.
- More efficient means of offering students individualized feedback.
- Greater collaboration between students on how to improve their work.
- Higher student engagement in the lesson.
If you use the weekly Mystery Science videos, and you want to begin using Google Classroom then give this idea a try and see how it works for you and your students. I think, with a little practice and experience, you will really enjoy this lesson. Happy teaching!
P.S. If you like posting your Mystery Science videos in Google Classroom, simply click Reuse to recycle this question every week. Change the due date and link and you can quickly post a question each week.