Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Why Knot Adventure PE ??

During my adventure PE class we had the opportunity to go to a climbing gym to do some rock climbing.  We went to a gym in Madison called Boulder's Climbing Gym.  We had a blast and the staff there was top notch.  I would highly recommend checking them out for a class trip.  


In prepping for that trip, I wanted the class to have a clue as to the knots that were keeping them from plummeting to the ground.  I have seen some card games that showed pictures of how knots were tied, I
looked online to find some websites to print out some sheets, and I went back to my younger days when I learned knot tying but nothing was really clicking as to a quick efficient process to learn some knots. 

While I was searching YouTube to refresh myself on the knots I wanted the kids to learn, it dawned on me to not reinvent the wheel and use those videos to teach.  So, I decided on the knots I wanted the kids to know (I tried to use more useful and common knots) and I settled on:

•    Overhand/Double Overhand
•    Square/Reef
•    Figure 8
•    Utility
•    Clove Hitch
•    Taut Line
•    Sheet Bend
•    Bowline

Once I figured out the knots I wanted kids to know, I went on YouTube and cruised through some videos until I found some that I liked.  I looked for videos that were short (under 2 mins), easy steps to remember and an easy rope to see.  Once I found the videos I wanted to use I simply added them to a playlist I created on YouTube to save/organize them.

Next I created a simple word document for the handout.  I listed the 8 knots and a brief description of where the knot might be used.  I also created a QR code for each knot video and pasted the QR code below each knot description I created.  (Click to read more on how to create QR Codes).  

I also put a picture of the knot next to the QR code so the kids can see what the finished product should look like and be able to check themselves as they practice.  So now the kids can simply scan the QR code, watch the video (pause and rewind) and practice tying the knot.  I let the kids just go in whatever order they want to for practice and I simply circulated helping out with different groups of kids.

The next day, I quiz them on the knots like a game.  I simply yell out a knot and the first to tie it right wins.  It is a fun competition and the kids seem to like it.  You could also do it in teams too.

As far as rope, I was also fortunate enough to find a spool of yacht rope at my school to use.  I cut the
rope into about 3 ft lengths.  I used electrical tape to bind the ends to keep them from fraying.  (To do the sheet bend knot you will need a few lengths of different rope).  

The rope I have is fairly large but it was free :-).  You could get a smaller size but I would make sure it  fairly durable and easy to work with.  I also stole an idea from a video I saw and taped each end of the rope a different color which simply makes it a little easier to keep track of which end the student is working with.

Overall the kids seemed to have fun learning to tie these knots.  Most are only familiar with the granny knot, square knot and a simple overhand slip knot.  When they started seeing themselves correctly tying other knots and seeing where & how they could be used, the students really started to get into learning more knots. 

So if your thinking of teaching some rope skills in class ... I'd say why knot?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

All FIRED up!

This may be a little different blog than my usual health content but my new classes have me excited about some activities I am trying for the first time.  The last 2 weeks we have been in our wilderness unit.  We have been learning about life in the wilderness (camping skills).  One of the most important part of camping or wilderness activities is the ability to make fire.  Now a lot of us who have spent time out in the woods appreciate what it takes to get a fire going.  We have our matches or lighter, paper and cardboard and maybe a little lighter fluid (or gasoline for those of us living on the edge).  But what happens if those things are not available to get a fire started for cooking, purifying water or heat??  Uh oh ……

It is not too hard to get a fire started when you have a stable/plentiful ignition source like a lighter but what if you don’t have that available?  You are lost in the woods on that hiking trip or got turned around tracking that deer during hunting season and you are stuck in the woods for a night??  Nothing can give you a sense of security like being able to get a fire going for heat, cooking, light and protection.  Our goal in the fire building lessons was to do just that.  Be able to effectively build a fire with a reliable resource.

First we went to the computer lab to watch a short video on how to build a fire.  I found a great series on youtube by Reggie Bennett of Mountain Shepherd Survival School on different wilderness tips and trainings.  

I also created a simple note sheet that follows along with the video for the students to fill out. (scroll to page 2 if you go to the link)

The next class period I brought in a bunch of timber, branches & sticks I collected and I also purchased a couple sparkie firestarters from Walmart (same one used in the video) for about $7.00 and I got some petroleum jelly and cottonballs.  I paired the kids up in groups of two and had them build a small fire using just the sparkie tool and the “jellied” cottonballs. 

Kids had fire in a matter of seconds when they used the handle & platform technique from the video.  It was incredibly easy and empowering for these kids to start a fire with no traditional ignition source.  Once they had their fire going, they could make a s’more as a reward.  The kids loved that little incentive!!   I did have some kids who really didn’t take the video seriously and didn’t pay a lot of attention to the steps of building a fire.  They really struggled to get a fire going and didn’t have a lot of time to get their “reward” because the deal was they could make their s’more on THEIR fire. 

It was a little humorous that most all the girls in class had fires going very quickly and were cooking up their s’mores while a handful of mostly boys were struggling getting a fire going “their” way.  Most finally did get a fire going but it took quite a bit of time, energy and effort.

Overall, this was a great activity and the kids really got some enjoyment out of seeing it done by “experts” and then replicating that success in real life. 

** Safety wise, I would definitely have a fire extinguisher or a water source available in case a fire gets a little out of hand. I would also suggest a garden rake as well to rake out any coals.  I planned to do our fires on the baseball gravel but it was all mud so we used some old 2 x 12’s to protect the grass.  In the future I am going to get a sheet of tin roofing and cut it into 2-3 ft squares for the kids to build their fires on.  It is re-useable and easier to clean up (dumping ashes) when it is all done.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The "Pool" of Depression

This is an activity I modified a little from a great Health teacher named Deb Tackmann from Eau Claire WI.  I simply added a few things and found a great video to use as an added attention getter. 

The basic goal of this activity is to get the kids to grasp the sensation of what depression might feel like using a physical crisis to compare with an emotional one.  It works well in helping teens understand what a depressed person might experience emotionally.

First I prep the kids with the video http://bit.ly/18APPH8 the kids start to freak out a little as the baby gets closer to water and I need to reassure them that everything works out so not to stress.  (Your girls who babysit are the most uncomfortable) 

Once the baby falls in the pool I pause the video.  I ask the class what the baby (I call him little Bobby) might be experiencing or feeling.  After getting a few responses I hand out the comparison sheet.  http://bit.ly/17ZhPQj I have the kids (either in pairs, groups or individually) come up with a least 5 comparisons between little Bobby and a depressed teenager.  I usually have one student give me an example as a starter.  (Both are scared, both are struggling, if no one helps they both can die, etc .. )  I can use the answers from the original question of what they thought little Bobby might be experiencing or feeling as a way to kick start ideas.  I give them about 3-4 mins to write their comparisons.  I then ask for individuals or groups to share their responses.  I use those responses to highlight out how a depressed person might feel and linking it to a person drowning so the kids grasp the connection.

After getting a number of responses I shift the question to the bottom half of the comparison sheet.  Now I pose the scenario of “what if little Bobby’s mom just happened to be looking out the window and saw little Bobby reaching for the ball in the pool and just as she turned to run out she hears him fall in the pool.”  Now the kids make comparisons between how little Bobby’s mom and friends of depressed teens are similar?  Again, I have a student give an example aloud as a starter (Both are scared, both are the first to be able to help, both have a limited amount of time to get help, etc …) Again I give the kids about 3-4 mins to come up with comparisons.  The goal here is to get the kids to see the similarities between a concerned mother and a concerned friend.  I also want them to make a connection to the urgency of helping. 

By now some of the kids are getting antsy about what happened to Bobby.  I then play the rest of the video where it shows how little kids are taught how to survival swim as a drowning prevention program.  When it is all finished I ask, “what do these kids have to protect them from drowning?” … the answer am looking for is “SKILLS”.  I have them make the connection of developing physical skills of swimming to reduce the risk of drowning just like we need to build resiliency skills to reduce our risk of developing depression which leads to suicide. 
It has worked as a great intro to the depression/suicide unit and takes a difficult concept of understanding how a person feels with a scenario the kids can connect with like an infant drowning.  It also sets up the next lesson called “Bulls Eye” which is a lesson about comparing what supports are available to a depressed teen vs. little Bobby.  

Look for the “Bulls Eye” lesson in my Blog soon ….

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Orienteering ... Finding your way

With some changes in teaching assignments this year I am getting back to my PE roots.  This year I am teaching more PE and have welcomed the change in scenery.  PE has changed for the better since I last was a full time teacher in Kinesiological management.  Two of my classes are Adventure PE.  Being a bit of an outdoorsman I have been loving this new class.  One of the units we have done has been basic orienteering.  It has been a while since I have used a compass so I needed a little refresher not to mention how to teach a class on this. 

I went on YouTube to get some refreshers on how to use a compass or come up with some activities to do.  I stumbled across a great tutorial that was quick and easy to learning the basics of the compass.  

I decided instead of me trying to teach the same info why not have the kids come into the computer lab and get all the “bookwork” out of the way all at once.  Plus, anyone who has ever tried to have kids sit in a gym or in the bleachers to “teach” will know it is hard to maintain their attention.  The computer lab is a familiar environment for them to do some sit work.
I use www.Edmodo.com with my PE students to be able to contact and provide information to them that they may need for class.  (It works great because I can share docs and videos so I am not picking up papers in the locker room after each hour.)  I put the video link right on edmodo for them to pull from.  I also created a note sheet where they can label the compass and write down the steps to using it.

Note sheet click HERE

Day 1:
I handed out the note sheets and had the kids pull up the video and watch it and fill the note sheets out.  It took all of 20 mins from start to finish.  (I had them pull up some info on www.Geocaching.com as the orienteering unit leads into the geocaching unit).

I created a simple orienteering course for the kids to follow.  I had my morning class do it in the field house (it was wet & dewy) and my afternoon class went outside so as long as you have an open space it should work.  I created 3 different courses just to offer a variety.  Once the kids finished one course they just grabbed a new card.  I color coded each course to make it easier.  The courses are not any harder than the others … just different.

Course Coordinates HERE

Each student got a compass, a course card and a hula hoop.  I had them spread out and stand in their hula hoop.  I then just had them start their course.  If they do their coordinates correct, they should end up right back in their hula hoop or within a few steps of it.  It makes it very easy to see if the kids orienteered correctly.

I was amazed at how well these city kids did on their first try.  The YouTube video made it simple and easy so the activity was a huge success.  The kids enjoyed it and thought it was neat they could use a compass which most never had. 

Day 3:
The kids will create their own 8 step course to plot.  I then have them give their course to a partner and have them orienteer the course to see if it works.

Overall this was a great activity.  The kids loved it and it was a great way to combine some new technology with the old … 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Chip" the Habit - An Experiential Addiction Activity

It’s been a while since I have posted a blog.  Summer is over and a new year has started.  I have been asked about ideas for teaching about addiction and I thought it would be a good subject to write about.  I do have a vodcast or two about alcohol and addiction that I usually have the students watch and take notes on.  For an application activity/project I have the students do something that will mirror what an addict experiences especially if they are working to kick the habit. I call the activity “Chip” the habit.

We first have talked a little about addiction but this could be used as an introductory activity to pre-load the lesson.  First I tell the kids they need to get their favorite snack food such as potato chips, Doritos, Oreos, cheese puffs, etc .. they get a chance to pick something they really like.  The students are instructed to open the bag, take out ONE chip/snack item and eat it.  Then they are to close the bag up and leave it on the counter (NOT put away in a drawer/cabinet – that will be important later).  That is the only time they can have a snack like that all day.  No chips or cookies or whatever, only the one time is all they get. 

They are to journal their emotions, thoughts and actions each day.  I usually do a check in during class to see how kids are doing.  If/when kids fail I encourage them to start again and see if they can go longer.  At the end of the week I have them write a reflective response to the activity comparing their experience with that of someone who is trying to stop a destructive habit like smoking, drinking or drug use as well as a more extended class discussion where they can highlight some things from their experience.  

The activity is a great experiential activity that gives the students a sense of what addiction is like.  Hopefully it connects with them in the sense of if they struggle to not eat a chip imagine what a powerful drug can do?? 

Connections & Discussion points:

How did you feel prior to the activity beginning?
(many students talk about how they think it will be easy or it seems a little dumb)

What happened the first time you ate a chip and had to seal up the bag?
(Students talk about how they don’t want to seal it up, it was hard, they were craving more, they got angry, started to get obsessed and thought about it alot.  Many talk about putting the bag in a drawer so they can’t see it … I remind them it HAS to be on the counter in plain sight)

Why did I have you keep the bag on the counter and not put it away?
(advertising, media images, friends/peers, etc.  It is always visible & ‘in your face”, etc)

If you were unable to only eat one chip, what happened?
(ate the whole bag, ate a bunch, felt guilty, stupid, angry, weak … , rationalized to justify eating more than one, “this is stupid”, “I will start tomorrow”, “no one will know”, etc )

How was that like someone who “falls off the wagon”/relapse?
(they do a whole bunch not just a little, they feel a sense of relief followed by guilt and feeling weak, just give up on quitting, rationalize their choice to relapse, etc)

What connections can you make between this activity and addiction?
(It’s hard, it’s all you think about, you get emotional about it, it affects your mood, you see it all the time, I just wanted to get rid of it so I couldn't see it anymore but you can’t, you can’t just have a little you wind up bingeing)

Those are just some of the questions I have used and answers I have been given.  This discussion can get pretty deep and involved which is great.  Kids usually have some very good insight when they write about their experience.

If you wanted to go more paperless or use a little more technology; you could use a back channel activity like polleverywhere, socrative, todaysmeet or edmodo to have an interactive discussion.  You could also use a google form for the kids to use as journal activities for their reflection piece. 

I have used this activity a number of times and it has led to great discussion and comparison points on addiction.  It is a very easy way to have your students get a small taste of what addiction feels like and the peripheral emotions and behaviors that go with it.  Some students have even claimed it has taken a few days after the activity was over to eat those snacks guilt free … J  Maybe it could be a good pre-cursor to your nutrition unit too …

Give this activity a shot and see how well your students can “Chip” the habit

Monday, July 15, 2013

“Deal or No Deal” Quiz

This is a fun in class quiz activity that can be used for any subject area or content.  It is different for every class and the kids hardly feel like it is a “real” quiz.  I set it up as a real quiz in terms of telling them to get prepared (study).  If they think it is a game ahead of time they don’t take the prep time seriously.  So basically I tell the class “We are having a quiz on ___ day”.  Then the day of the quiz I set up the “DEAL or NO Deal” format. 

I got this idea from a drug education grad class I was in where the professor would give a one question final exam for 100 pts!!  It sounded awesome at the time but then when I was taking the quiz it was nerve racking!!  You still have to prepare for anything; essay, true-false, short answer, multiple choice, fill-in the blank, etc … we had NO idea what the question would be or in what format.  I was hoping for an essay question because I had a “BS” in Vocab arts …. ;-) but the day of the exam came and we got our ONE
question … I was a nervous wreck.  The question was “What is the most widely abused drug in the US?”  A ONE WORD answer for a 100 points … uhhhgggg.  Talk about second guessing myself.  Let see … most powerful … no …. most addictive … no …  most popular … no … most prescribed … no ….. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  The answer …. Did you guess it???    Caffeine!     Yes, I did get it right but it was stressful.  There was a lot of processing that had to go on for me to write that one word down.

I have never forgotten that experience so I thought "how could I bring that type of assessment into my classroom?"  I was inspired by Deal or No Deal!
I have 9 white envelopes each with a number 1 – 9 and the envelopes are numbered 1 - 9.  I have the numbers randomly mixed.  

I also have 12 manila envelopes in order at the front of the room.  In 8 Manila envelopes I have a piece of paper with a content question.  Some are T/F, essay, multiple choice, listing, ordering, etc.  The other five manila envelopes have a piece of paper that states one of the following:

  • “free 5 points”
  • “free 10 points” but choose 2 more envelopes
  • Pick two more envelopes
  • Pick three more envelopes

The kids have a max of 8 content questions they might get.  Each piece of paper with a question on it has the point value for that question.  Some groups only get one question and it might be the free 10 points?  In that case the class just got 10 extra credit points.  Some classes get 8 full on questions?  We go through each question anyway but I explain that later.

The Activity:
I have the class take out a sheet of paper to take the quiz on.  I choose one contestant (usually a pretty confident student that is well liked in the class).  There is almost no strategy to this activity it is all just chance.  I then hand out the WHITE envelopes to 9 students in the class and tell them NOT to look inside them and hold them up.  I have
the contestant then choose ONE white envelope.  I place that unopened envelope on the front table for all to see.  I say to the contestant “That is your envelope”.  I then have the contestant choose another WHITE envelope.  And I give them the envelope to hold.  (Here is where I build up suspense) I say:

“Do not look into the envelope yet.  Inside this envelope is a number and that number will represent the number of MANILA envelopes you will choose.  Inside each MANILA envelope is either a question or free points.  Now, only you (the contestant) can look at the number inside your envelope and decide if we have a DEAL or NO DEAL …. If you choose DEAL, then you will pick that number of MANILA envelopes and the quiz begins; if you choose NO DEAL then you will close your WHITE envelope and pick another WHITE envelope from the crowd … BUT … if you choose NO DEAL & you pick a different envelope you will no longer have a choice to choose again, whatever number is in THAT envelope will be the number of MANILA envelopes we will pick.” 
Then I would have the contestant choose the white envelope and look inside to see what number they got and decide, on their own, if we have a DEAL or NO DEAL. 

If they say “DEAL” (Usually a low number) we show the number to the class and the student picks the appropriate number of Manila envelopes, gives them to me and goes back to their seat.  I will then open and read the questions or information in the envelope basically like an in-class oral quiz.  I just jot down how many actual questions and points each class received since they will all be different.

Now, if the student says “NO DEAL” (usually a high number) they select a new white envelope from the crowd and just before they open it I throw in the “twist”.  I say:

 “Now … before you open that envelope and reveal your number we have ‘your’ envelope sitting right here (referring to the envelope sitting on the front table for all to see).  I will give you the opportunity to switch envelopes?  You can keep the one you are holding in your hand now OR go with the envelope you picked at the very beginning.  Either way we go with what is IN that envelope.  Now, are you going to keep the envelope in your hand or switch and go with ‘your’ envelope on the table?”

The suspense and pressure is crazy at this point.  Kids in class are yelling different things .. “Switch don’t switch ….. “.  I tell the contestant to ask the
class what they should do so any “blame” is on the class too ;-).  Then once the student chooses I reveal the number in the envelope that they DID NOT choose (It is either a cheer or a groan?).  I like to remind the students at this point that they all were part of selecting the envelope so we all share the pain or glory of what is in the chosen envelope.  I reveal the number in the envelope they DID choose (again a cheer or groan) and then have the contestant select the appropriate number of Manila envelopes and continue with the oral quiz.

I usually just grade them in class and have them grade their own quiz.  Regardless of how many questions the students answer for a quiz, I go through each envelope and we answer the questions in a discussion format so the information is “quizzed” either way.  I like to then shuffle all the envelopes so kids don’t start spreading the word on which ones to pick.

It is a fun way to quiz the kids and it is fun to see them get all fired up over choices.  Depending on the units I use this format in, I use it as a teachable moment to talk about life choices and sometimes it works out well and other times we have to just muscle through it and try to prepare as best as possible.  Some kids will say “I didn’t care because I knew all the stuff anyway so whether it was 1 question or 10 questions it really didn’t matter.”  

Some didn’t study at all so they were hoping for the one T/F question I use that as an example about preparing yourself for the unknowns of what lies ahead & resiliency.  The kids who prepared for the quiz are way less stressed about how many questions or which questions get selected.  The pressure and stress level is low because they have prepared and are more resilient.  However, the ones who were not prepared have a higher stress/anxiety level and therefore have less resiliency because they are hoping on chance or luck to get them through.  The more prepared you are, the less stressful situations are and the more resilient you can be in any given situation.

It is amazing how a simple little quiz can generate so much excitement, anticipation and a teachable moment all in one.  You can take this and adapt it to any number of questions or content areas too.  You can change the types of questions, add in different “reward” cards, include different actions or demonstrations, etc.

See if your classes want to make a “DEAL” or not ….

Monday, July 1, 2013

Paragraph Puzzle: Using cookie sheets for more than just baking

The simple concept is to take a paragraph or explanation about whatever content you want and cut it up into incomplete phrases and have the students put the “puzzle” back together in a complete paragraph again.  This is not a new idea by any means but it is and easy & active way for kids to process information.  I add to the activity cookie sheets and magnet stick-ons to make it a little different.  You can use this for many different applications and content areas.  I do a number of different types of puzzle activities using the same basic principle.  This can be done either after watching a vodcast, classroom discussion, reading the
information online or in a textbook, etc. …  You could also use this activity as a problem solving activity prior to teaching the material to see if they can use context clues, prior knowledge or punctuation cues to put the “puzzle” together.   Either way the activity is simple.  

In this blog, I am using it as a review activity to explain the functions of the male reproductive system.  I also do this same type of activity for the female reproductive system, menstrual cycle and fertilization.  Sometimes I do all of them?  You could even do them in succession, when one puzzle is done they start the next one.  I typically do one at a time based on what we are covering in that time frame.

Set up:
I write up a paragraph explaining a process or information.  It could even be putting things in a certain order or step-by-step instruction.  I like to laminate
the paragraph so it is durable and reusable.   I then cut the paragraph up with scissors into strips of incomplete sentences.   On the back of each strip, I put a little piece of stick-on magnetic strip.  (You could even cut up old refrigerator magnets and glue them on??)   I buy the magnetic strip in a roll and it has an adhesive strip on one side.  .  I just cut a small square,
peel and stick it on to the back of the strip.  Once the paragraph is laminated, cut and magnetized I put the strips in a zip lock bag to store them in.  I then have Tupperware containers to store all the bags in for re-use.

I break the class in groups of 2-4 and give each group a cookie sheet and a bag with the magnetized paragraph strips in it.  I simply tell them to put the
strips back into paragraph form so it makes sense and reads correctly.  Depending on the group I will tell them the first and last strip to get them started.

Once they think they have the puzzle completed they simply bring the cookie sheet to me.  I am usually walking around checking on groups so the magnets are easy ways for them to bring their work to where I am rather than waiting around for me to get to them.  I simply read their paragraph and when I encounter an error (wrong placement) I simply turn that strip and say “you are correct up to that point” and back they go to re-work the rest of the puzzle.  Once they have it, I start using the members of that group to check the work of other groups and help groups that are struggling.  If I am helping a group and someone says “check mine”, I can simply direct them to a student that is finished to check it.  They simply do the same thing I did.  At this point it becomes a peer teaching activity too.  I may even have a couple students go to a struggling group and help them get “un-stuck”.

It works as a great activity.  Once all the groups are done I read the full paragraph aloud and talk about where people got stuck and talk about different clues they used to master the activity.  I do this kind of activity for multiple different content areas.  The kids like the magnets and it is an easy addition to a simple paper puzzle activity to make it a little different.  Plus the cookie sheets are portable so they can move it around and not mess up their progress.

Cookie sheets and magnets = fun times in class ;-) 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Play Doh HIV

This is an activity I started using play-doh to demonstrate how HIV works.  I started using play doh as a way to “demonstrate/explain” other content areas as well.  It is fun for the kids, they can use their creativity and they come up with some hilarious demonstrations/examples of whatever concept you are teaching.  It has become a fun activity that gets the kids engaged in class and be creative.

I have cookie sheets that I use for different activities (Paragraph Puzzles) so they come in handy for this one too.  They work to make the activity a little more portable and “contained” and it helps with clean up as well.  I went out and bought 2 “cases” of smaller play-doh containers of different colors.  I think there are 24 little tubs in a case which gave me somewhere around 50 smaller containers.  I think it ran me about $25.00.  So far that amount has worked OK.  

I simply divvy up the tubs of play-doh based on the number of groups I have.  I usually try not to have more that 4 to a group.  You can adjust the amount of play-doh you need based on class size.  I will say, the more you have the better.  Kids LOVE using lots of different colors.  I will probably add another case this year just to help with replacements and options.

This activity I use as an in-class assessment as to how well they are grasping the concept of HIV’s function inside the body.  We talk about all the different White Blood Cells and their jobs in the vodcast as well as what HIV does to specific WBC.  That sets up the whole premise of why and how HIV turns into AIDS, how meds work, why people get sick and eventually die.  Typically this would be an activity that would follow a Vodcast or two & Q & A discussion.  (see Vodcast 7.1 & Vodcast 7.1a StarWars)

I tell them to create a model using the play-doh to show/explain how HIV attacks the immune system.  Make sure you are showing the functions of the parts of the immune system and how HIV interacts with that. 

I simply break them into groups of no more than 4.  I give them the directions and let them go.  Once they are “finished” I come around and they explain what their model is.  A few guidelines I use are to not mix and mash the pay-doh to make “tie-dye”.  It is fine to “mush” different parts together of different colors but try not to “mix” them together.  It just keeps the play-doh colors intact for other groups.  And the obvious not throwing or stealing the play-doh .. J

Outside of that, the kids are on their own to create their model. 

Once they are done they pack up the play-doh and put them back into the correct color tub and make sure the lid is sealed tight and bring their tubs and cookie sheets to the table (I usually check all of them too.)  Usually the kids then want to walk around and see what other groups have made.  If
you have time and resources you could have the kids do a gallery walk when they are finished to see what other groups have put together.  It is a great way to showcase their work.   Sometimes I take pics of each group’s model and then I can show those on the screen the next day and have the kids explain their model to the class.  It works pretty good if you have the time to show case each groups’ work.. 

This is also one of those great times where if a student has not watched the vodcasts yet they can do that in class before playing with the play-doh.  It is amazing how much play-doh is an incentive to high school kids … ;-)

I am also starting to use the play-doh activity for other concept areas as well.  It started with this activity concerning HIV/AIDS but the light bulb clicked on and I started seeing where I could have the kids use play-doh to demonstrate/explain/assess other areas too.  They ask for the play-doh all the time.  “Mr. Troeger…. can we do the play doh thing today????” ….. weird  ;-)