It’s test day. And the day to make the kids see the science behind what will NOT be the end of the world.
And I get to leave early for a doctor appointment.
It’s good that break is right around the corner because I don’t feel optimistic about any of the above.
Making Labs Work
More than one older teacher raised eyebrows and objections in my department when word got out I was letting my biology freshmen and sophomores operate bunsen burners. Did I know what I was doing?! Could the kids really handle it?!
Yes, and yes! Here’s the thing: I am unsure of myself often as a young science teacher, but this year, my students—all of them, every level of them—are wonderful in the lab. It surprises me sometimes, because in my first year, they were not always wonderful in the lab. Either my kids are uniformly better this year in every class (possible) or I learned something from last year (more likely).
The lab I’m in the middle of right now, calorimetry, is the biggest test of my lab supervision abilities and my students’ lab work. There are a lot of moving pieces—open flame, tasty foods that are strictly off limits, digital balances at risk of being stolen, lots of hot glass, tricky quantitative analysis, and procedure writing. It’s been smooth sailing for two days now. Here’s how I do it.
I don’t do labs often since I’m not in an official science classroom, but I need to remember this advice for the times I can get a lab accomplished. This teacher has got labs down!
Teacher Back-to-School Do Now:
- Stop rewriting the intro unit and move on already!
Our curriculum calls for an intro unit dealing with scientific investigation. Basically a how to DO science. Teaching science skills is my biggest goal, and I have so many fun activities to accomplish this that I could fill up at least half the year. But I’ve cherry-picked my favorite activities, and it’s time to move on to the Earth Science content. My second year of teaching will be focused on building in more projects that combine science process skills and content. Time to get a move on it.
Where are the TV shows celebrating science skills?
We have popular showcases for music talent, athletics, dancing, finding love, designing clothing, and more. I’m not saying these aren’t worthwhile talents. I’m just suggesting that we as a culture need to put some more emphasis on the importance of scientific investigation and discovery. Mythbusters is great, but let’s showcase the everyday scientists and students.
President Obama introduces massive new Master Teacher Corps plan
- $1 billion to boost students’ math and science performances source
» The money will finance drastically increased salaries for Corps-selected teachers — with each set to receive a $20,000 pay raise — and would require participating teachers to commit to program participation for a multi-year period. Over $100 million in funding will be set aside for the new project, effective immediately, and the President will include another $1 billion in his budget proposition for fiscal 2013. ”I’m running to make sure that America has the best education system on earth, from pre-K all the way to post-graduate,” Obama told a crowd in San Antonio, continuing, “And that means hiring new teachers, especially in math and science.”
This is great, although I wish we prioritized social sciences as well. Critical reading and writing skills are just as important as math and science!
I’ve seen way more students with issues in critical thinking and communication than in their math and science. When you have senior bio and chemistry majors in college still incapable of using proper citation or clear sentence structure, that’s a clear sign that money needs to be put into more than just the math and science courses.
Critical thinking IS science! If a science teacher isn’t helping students learn and practice critical thinking, then they are not doing their job. In this age of facts at our fingertips, focusing on memorizing science info is not needed. Students need to interpret and analyze what they read and observe. THAT is critical thinking and true science!
Back on topic: I like Obama. I dislike this. Why should this plan be exclusive to Corps members? I get the financial limitations, but this is a slap in the face to other committed teachers.
I’ve had this discussion with students. As suggested above, writing as a consequence can absolutely be harmful In SOME cases. Not only can it turn writing into something negative that should be avoided, but it can also ruin any positive relationships you may have built with your students. That being said, I will sometimes ask students to reflect on their behavior in writing, but not in a “write a paragraph” assignment. I’ll ask them to jot down their feelings or perceptions of the situation while they cool off in the hall. Then I have them use their notes as a starting point during our follow up conference. My point in doing this (and I tell them) is to have them practice organizing their thoughts when upset so they can better express themselves in mature conversation. I only check that they put pencil to paper, never do I keep or grade anything they write or draw during these times. This doesn’t work for everyone, but the majority of my students respond well. They know it is not an academic writing assignment, but is a task that fits with our class goals of clearly and maturely expressing ideas (something important in science).
Ta-da! This is a my new classroom management consequence ladder tracking chart that I’m going to implement this year for my 8th graders! I’m adapting to it because one big problem that I ran into in my classroom management last year was that my students would instantly shut down once they received a writing assignment as a consequence. This new method enables the student the power to correct their behavior and move out of the negative consequences and back into positive ones by the end of the class period; actually encouraging them to correct their behavior!
Now just 6 more to make and a ton a clothespins to buy!
uh I have so many extra clip boards that I should consider doing this
I beg all teachers who use writing as a consequence for negative behavior to think that through, and then stop it.
I second this emotion.
What kind of “writing assignment” is it? If it’s something contextually relevant and not just punishment, is there something else to call it?
The closest I’ve come personally to assigning writing is making a student write a letter of apology. It’s in our take-one bucket for negative consequences as “Apology Letter.” I’ve also seen some interesting consequence sheets in some of the schools I’ve worked at where the student has to write what they did, why it was a bad decision, and what they think they could have done instead. I’m assuming those are for use in supervised situations where the teacher or whoever was directly involved isn’t available to talk it over — a main office, detention, etc. — which, on one hand, might offer interesting insight into the student’s view of the situation if it’s given to the teacher later, but on the other hand, if no one is talking it through with the student, might not necessarily help them learn anything or change whatever behavior led to it in the first place.
If my child ever kids a writing assignment as punishment, s/he won’t be doing it. I’ll be more than happy to work with the teacher on some other punishment, but writing won’t be it.
Dear God, writing should not be a punishment. I can see doing an “apology letter” but that’s how it should be labeled. Putting a negative connotation on writing ultimately does a lot more harm than good.
Then, my dear, we live in a world of semantics. Writing is writing. Authority is authority. Whether the consequence is overtly related to the material or not, consequences are things that ought not be enjoyed for the sake of doing, but things that ought to lift up a person to a new emotion. Please, #education, enlighten this bad teacher with your ideas on the context. I’m truly all ears. All I ask is that you be civil and not hijack for the sake of stating a message. I want you to bring something to the table that I can learn from, not bash for it’s insensitiveness.
“I’m a registered Republican. I only seem liberal because I believe hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure, not gay marriage.” -Will McAvoy, main character on The Newsroom
Not sure in what context this line was said, as I do not watch the show, but for the record:
Hurricanes are low pressure systems.
TED Talks Science
On the Science Channel.
Hunger Games in Science Class
I read the books, I saw the movie, and I honestly could not wait for today. Today I got to hear the reactions of those students I mentioned in a previous post. The ones that made me so proud with their in depth analysis of the books. I was pleasantly surprised that their analysis of the movie matched closely with mine - not because they agreed, but because they showed some top-notch critical thinking skills.
What the Kids Said
Ask Anything? Anyone?
I’m home, I’m bored. If anyone asks a question, I will answer. Anything. Go for it.