Wk 5 Lens into the Classroom – Feb. 20

This is background for our Feb. 20 “Lens into the Classroom” session.

Teacher: Andrea Morton, 6th Grade Humanities High Tech Middle North County

Dilemma: What effective differentiation strategies might I implement for high-ability and high-achieving students in a mixed-ability classroom, when working on a research and writing project, that will ensure access and challenge for all students?



In the Labels DECLASSIFIED project, 52 sixth graders from High Tech Middle Chula Vista identified their favorite food or personal care products and were then challenged to research them to discover the actual health effects upon their bodies.  Most students worked individually although some worked in pairs.

Each child did research using online tools like the Environmental Working Group’s SKIN DEEP website or FoodFacts.Com and then PubMed.GOV, to learn more about what the science and research actually say about the ingredients in their products.  They then wrote articles about their food or personal care products, taking each article through the full writing process… each student did between 4 and 9 drafts.

Articles were given KSH critique by family members, other students in class, older students in the 8th grade, close friends and their teacher.  There was a big push toward making the scientific knowledge understandable to other children.  During this process we also had guest experts who came to teach our students about various aspects of ingredients including a chemistry professor from the University of San Diego who taught about the molecular structure of ingredients; a chemistry professor from UCSD who taught about toxic ingredients and Superfund cleanup sites; a professional nutritionist who taught about healthy ingredients; and a food scientist and cosmetic chemist from CP KELCO who came in to teach the kids about the work they do in creating hydrocolloids for application in food and personal care products.

In the end, the students published their original articles along with oil pastel and watercolor art pieces in a book called “Labels DECLASSIFIED: The Truth Behind Your Products” now available for sale online on Amazon.Com and we also developed a project website where you can hear the students read the articles in their own voices.

This was a very successful project and we have much student work including filmed Presentation of Learning (POL) reflections and final student reflections on their digital portfolios (DPs) to share.

Additional resources:

The slides we used for this session are here:

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