Overview: Science reports teach many skills beyond just science. Find out here why there are worth the effort! Note:This post is sponsored by CuriosityStream. I received their service for free, and I was compensated for my time to write this post. Please be aware, however, that all opinions are my own. Thanks!
This is our first year in Classical Conversations and we have been loving it. My kids love it because they get to see friends each week. (Socialization? Check.) I love it because our family's little homeschool is attempting things we never have before.
One of those things is written reports – lots of them. I've shared before how teaching writing is something I've been kind of afraid of for most of our homeschool career – so much so that I have previously avoided it as much as possible (true confessions, here!). Well, those days are gone. In fact, my daughter in Classical Conversations Challenge A (which is for age 12 and above — basically 7th or 8th grade) is required to write a science report EACH AND EVERY WEEK.
Yep, by the end of the semester she will have written 15 science reports! But amazingly it is not an overwhelming task. Each week students are given a general topic from natural science, which they can choose to narrow down to a more specific area of interest if desired. (For instance, for the topic of “weather,” my daughter chose to write about tsunamis. Other kids picked lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes — at this age they relish disaster, apparently! :-) ) The students research, write the report, and draw a picture to go with it. Then when we meet at Community Day on Monday, they all read their science reports in front of the class.
Can I just say that I LOVE everything about this??
Why are these science reports so great?
There are so many good things going on here:
1) She is learning how to speak in front of an audience. Because everyone in the class reads their report week after week, EVERY Monday, it becomes easier and easier for them to do. In this way they are learning to overcome their natural nerves about public speaking. They also critique one another: her classmates are told to find one interesting fact from her report, one item of praise, and one piece of constructive criticism, either about her content or her presentation. After she reads the report, she continues standing up front so the other kids can relay their feedback, and she can respond. Not only does she learn from them what went well and how to improve, she is given the opportunity to practice humbly receiving both positive and negative feedback. Love it!
2) She is learning to be considerate and encouraging towards others as she takes her turn to give feedback to her classmates. She is learning how to criticize graciously — which is a skill much lacking these days, unfortunately — and she is also gaining experience in finding nice things to say, even when it might be difficult, lol.
3) She is learning the skill of observation as she draws a picture of the subject matter. Drawing forces her to notice details of color and line. It also fosters creativity as she tries to find interesting ways to compose her picture. It provides a non-verbal outlet for her to express the results of her research. Interestingly enough, some of the kids really open up and are much more effective speakers when describing their picture vs. reading their report. I think it's great that Classical Conversations adapts to differing learning styles this way.
4) She is learning to appreciate the complexity and beauty of the world we live in. How can you not be fascinated by the natural world when you explore a new piece of it each and every week? Her sense of wonder is growing as she sees how intricately the systems of the earth fit together — land, sea, sky, fish, birds, animals — I think she'll remember and appreciate this year of natural science study for the rest of her life.
5) She is learning to perform research. (This might possibly be my favorite!) For these assignments, the students are required to consult at least two sources which are age- and ability-appropriate. It is easy to depend on the home encyclopedia, or go to Wikipedia and other well-known informational websites. And of course there is always the library, although that is not always convenient for us. But we have found one excellent, convenient resource to be an online video streaming service called CuriosityStream.
CuriosityStream is the world's first ad-free, on-demand streaming service for quality programs that educate, inspire and entertain. CuriosityStream delivers over 1,000 titles of high-quality documentaries and series created by the most accomplished producers from around the world, whenever and wherever you want to watch.
It has been really nice to see that for each new science topic every week, there have been not just one but several videos to watch on CuriosityStream. It doesn't seem like school when you can actually watch volcanoes erupt or see underwater life swimming in and around a coral reef! And these are quality documentaries done by reputable videographers. Talk about appreciating the wonder of the world; it's kind of hard not to do so when you see it all happening in front of your eyes! :-)
By using the streaming online content on CuriosityStream for one of her research sources, my daughter is learning to take notes from a spoken presentation. This is a great skill to have. But even when she uses other sources for her main research, the documentaries on CuriousityStream give her a better overall grasp of the topic, so that she can make her writing more interesting; and she can answer questions from her audience with more confidence. It's a perfect tool to use for Challenge A – or any level, really.
CuriosityStream is a great resource for more than just science reports!
Science is only one of the main topics of videos provided; others are Technology, Communications, Energy, Engineering, Civilization, Business, History, Economics – to name just a few of the many more on there. I'm thinking we'll be visiting often! And I love that there are NO COMMERCIALS. You might remember from my post about the best budget decision we ever made that I'm not a fan of those.
To sign up for CuriosityStream:
They have two plans, one for high definition and one for ULTRA high definition. Go to curiositystream.com and click on the “Sign Up” button. On the next page, select your preferred plan, input your email information, and create a username and password. Then you will be prompted to input your payment information. It's SO reasonably priced, you will be pleasantly surprised! Enjoy!
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