Cooling Off! – Collaborating towards new ideas

The WISE project I chose to delve into and edit was the ‘Global Climate Change and Ozone’ project. Through the various activities, it has students examine the effects of energy on the Earth’s temperature, considering the Earth’s future in regards to climate change and what humans can do to protect the climate. It is designed for grade 6-8 students with a decent ability in the English language, since it involves quite a bit of vocabulary with little explanation and many opportunities for writing out ideas. The lessons are well designed in that they make thinking visible, using challenge questions and branching tools to connect and test their ideas. They also make science accessible through the scope and grain size of each of the activities, as these are “important to the process of knowledge integration” (Linn et al., 2003). I also found this project to promote lifelong learning, as students are able to continually think about the material presented as it applies to their daily lives.

This project, however, was lacking considerably in having students learn from one another through collaboration and reflection activities. Therefore, in editing this project, I wanted to provide greater opportunities for collaboration between peers and teachers. I also wanted to deepen the connections students were making throughout, by first assessing their prior knowledge (as well as self-assessing). What were the misconceptions students were walking into this unit with? What had been their experience with climate change? In the introduction, I added a brainstorm page, where students could add their personal experiences and knowledge anonymously, without judgement, while also adding comments to other students’ comments. For the teacher, this would help establish where students are at with their understanding, allowing the teacher to guide them in alternative directions if need be. Further on, I added an idea basket that I really liked from the ‘What makes a good cancer medicine’ project. This way, as students built their knowledge, they would be encouraged at various points to jot their ideas down. Later they are asked to debate between two students’ ideas on climate change. This idea basket, along with an explanation builder, would support their learning and prevent misconceptions from resurfacing.

Finally, I wanted students to deepen their connections between what they had learned of the content of climate change and their personal choices and action towards protecting the Earth’s climate. I also wanted to further the accessibility piece by removing the language aspect from the final page. Therefore, I used the draw tool to allow students to illustrate their new understandings based on a prompt by any means they saw fit.



Linn, M., Clark, D., & Slotta, J. (2003). Wise design for knowledge integration. Science Education, 87(4), 517-538.



  1. Hi,

    I like how you included an anonymous diagnostic assessment to gauge their initial level of understanding. This would provide valuable information and guide further customizations to the project. I also like how you increased the overall amount of collaboration.

  2. I like the fact that you used the idea basket. I think it not only allows them to collect info for later but also combines some Language Arts, ensuring that they find main ideas and not just copy large chunks of text. I also like how you built in more discussion time, it is so important to support student learning.

    I wonder if by making the first page anonymous if you found most were on target but one or two were not, you wouldn’t be able to pre-teach to those couple of get them better prepared for the unit.

    1. That’s a good point Sarah. In making the first page anonymous, my goal was really to avoid judgement from other students. I’m still getting used to the WISE program, but I wonder if WISE has a way of having student comments be made anonymous to other students, but not to the teacher. That would discreetly allow those students to be targeted for some prior intervention perhaps.

      1. Hi,

        I second that the idea basket is very good. I think it’s good to have blank page to avoid judgement. I do think that nowadays, most of the learning that occurs happens through discussions and it’s a great way to assess students as well. Though not the best for the quiet kid like me. This comment leaving would be a great way. I think if you want to keep it anonymous to other students you might need to go the Met Post route that many MET course instructors use. Have the students do the work then have them log their work, though it might be hard to track cheating.


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