August 5th, 2009
Everyday after camp during our discussions and even since the research in 487 I have compared everything to my classroom and I have realized that my classroom activities are not far from being inquiry based with a few small changes. That is not to say that with a few small changes, ta da I have inquiry! but with a few small changes I can start to move my practices towards inquiry slowly. It is a difficult situation being that I do not have tenure yet and there is such a huge emphasis on standardized test scores but there are a few labs that I do that this coming year I could try some inquiry with my students. these labs are at the start of my year so getting students to ask good questions would fit in perfectly.
The other aspect of the inquiry we did this summer is the use of technology. I would really like to use more of it and have my students use this technology to help them gain an understanding of how it works and to add to the fun. Especially since the World that they will be in a few years after high School will be even more advanced in technology. I know I will have a smartboard to use in my classroom whch I can not wait to play with and make my lessons alot more stimulating with simulations, videos, inspiration among others.
I was not sure about all thsi inquiry stuff at the begining of my grad program and still have some kinks to work out but now I can see the pluses of it and how it allows students the ability to research what they want with guidance and it pulls out talents and strenghs that otherwise would not be seen doing paper cookie cutter labs. It is going to be exciting trying out new things and see how they work and then fixing them up when they do not work.
August 3rd, 2009
I feel camp went awesome! I was only at camp on Friday due to summer school but I did watch Flip camera videos every night and saw a lot of progress by the students throughout the week. My reflection is from the time we visited Harley to the Friday of camp week when it was my turn to lead the group.
When we were at Harley I was not sure what to expect from our kids and I was blown away by their enthusiasm and knowledge of science. They had a tremendous amount of prior knowledge about the beach, water cycle and pollution. As the kids came t the beach and Camp Week went by groups members shared with me how camp went. We discussed pluses and arrows as team and used this to plan for the following day. From meeting everyday and watching Flip videos I could see some growth among the research team and their progress towards our camp goals. The kids were thinking like scientists. They were questioning scientific concepts dealing with the each and every day they were able to explain to us what they were doing and more importantly why they were doing it with our research question in mind.
As the week went on and it was my turn to lead I was extremely nervous because here I am the only one left to lead on the last day and I have not worked with each kid in a teacher-student role and I was not sure how they were going to react. The day went great! The kids were everything I could have imagined. I could tell they reached our camp goals of thinking like a scientist, increased and built upon their problem solving skills and knew what exactly they wanted to do with presenting what they had learned at the beach and in the lab.
The presentation went great with a few small bumps and our poster session was very cool. Aslan and Briyanna were they only ones who could attend and they stayed at out table and were answering questions that they were asked and did a great job representing the Science Baby’s. Briyanna’s interview with the news really made me proud! She was asked why and what she did all week and she talked about why we were there and what we were testing for in the water. She backed it up with why the tests were important and did a beautiful job representing the Camp and Harley.
August 3rd, 2009
I feel that as a whole the lesson went great. I had it tough being that this was my first day with the group and interacting with the kids as a teacher. I was not sure how they were going to react and if I could motivate them but I was able to. The intro activity allowed me to directly talk one on one with students and get a sense of what they did all week and how they were doing. Students opened right up and I knew that part was taken care of.
The timing of the lesson is something that could have been better. I hate giving activities a time. If students are working hard I like to let them keep working and if they start to get off task I shift the lesson. During school I have a few activities ready at all times and judging how my students are doing and their level of understanding I let that guide me through out the lesson. Flexibility is the name of the game! The time I gave students to work on their graphs in the beginning of the day was too long but I was having great time learning more about each kid and messing with the technology with them. At the end of the lesson I found that we really could have used those 20 minutes to finish our tri-fold poster.
Another negative was that in giving students time to look at pictures and pick out what was going to go on our tri-fold did not get done in a timely fashion. We waited too long and if we did this the day before, which we could of, then we could have finished the poster during the camp and not after class.
The group worked great together. It was a whole team effort as the group was constantly brought back together after a short work time to share out what they were working on and ideas were shared. I feel every student felt involved and had a great sense of ownership over the work they were working on and even what their teammates were working on. Brian and Aslan created the graphs after all members had input on their meaning as well as esthetics while Jeslyann created an awesome movie capturing the entire week. Lastly Briyanna created a beautiful keynote that she presented on Saturday at the Hubble Auditorium. Each student also strolled around the room when they got antsy and gave compliments, criticisms and possible solutions to things that fellow group members were facing.
July 31st, 2009
What a day! I had an absolute blast!! I was not sure what too expect. I have met the kids before and know them but have not interacted with them in a teacher-student fashion like today. I prepared and read the info sheets about them and brought it up and got a few, “How did you know that?” and it was cool. It felt like I had been there all week.
We had alot to do today and for the most part it was very successful day. The kids were all on task throught the day and that was a plus. We divided and conquered and finished the keynote and movie, found pictures for the trifold and planned the trifold so really all that was left to do was glue pictures down and we did that in the spots the kids assigned. The kids also loved painting in the tunnell, which looks pretty sweet! It was a great time last ngiht painting it and hangin out and knowing the kids had fun adding to it made it worth while.
Negatives were timing. It was tough since I was not with the kids all week alotting time for the activities. My group helped me with times and that guided us throught the day. We spent too much time working on our graphs and wasted time that we later could have used. Because of this we were not able to do a dry run and hopefully all of the kids will be there tomorrow to do a dry run before. They did a wonderful job and it wouldnt be right if they were not there.
During the school year I usually do not put times on my lesson plans. I put approximate times. If my kids are working hard and need more time I give it to them and if they are going off task or losing their trains of thought I move on, or switch gears. Today I was not sure. There were times during the graphing that I thought we could have moved on but I did not. That time was not a total waste because I was interacting and learing from the kids but as for our project went it was a wasted time slot. But you live and you learn. In every lesson plan there is always somehting you can change or make better.
I really look forward to the presentations tomorrow. All of the groups look really good!
July 29th, 2009
The day I dreded missing the most!! Data collection and analysis! From watching the video it was awsome watchign the kids in their lab coats and gloves counting bacteria colonies. They each had a smile the entire time and looked like they were pros at it. The pictures and video from the brainstorming session showed a great disscussion among the team. Students analyzed the data, made a chart and began to come up with hypothesis’s why they counted the number of colonies that they did. A huge concept map was drawn with ideas and then ideas wewre takin away when the teamd ecided that they didn’t fit. It is true team work when a teammate can take some critisism and not shut down. The kids also came up with whether or not their original hypothesis was supports or not and if it wasn’t students talked about why. Students also came up with data they would have had if the hypothesis was correct and showed great critical analysis here.
After the lab students began working on making some charts with the computers in excel spreadsheets. They made these graphs and then backed them up in a whole group discussion. I was sad to miss the day but everything turned out great!!
July 29th, 2009
This post is a day late. I forgot to grab the Flip cam so i couldn’t watch the videoes last night to blog. I do miss being with the class and the kids at the beach. They seemed so into finding answers to the research question which is: Does the amount and location of algae affect the aount of bacteria there are at the beach? It is a great question and the kids came up with it. It looks like we were able to accomplish our objectives of getting the kids to think like scientists. They are asking some really good questions and not just asking to ask but they really want to know the answers to them.
They looked so excited to get into the muck and get onto the boat to take samples and eventually plate them. The kids were also able to recall what pH, DO are and how they affect the beach. Also their video reflections are perfect. even in one day there is a huge improvement. not to say that they were terrible on day 1 but they are much more focused and relaxed. I also noticed that our group is asking better questions. Not so many guided questions. That is something we are trying to improve upon. It is hard! I still to this day try to frame my questions properly and it is tough.
July 28th, 2009
Team BABY’s got off to a great start today! I was sorry I couldn’t be there. It looked like so much fun from hearing everyone debrief and then from the video I watched on the Flip cam. Jole and the rest of the group looked like they did an awsome job. From what I could see all of our objectives were met. first and foremost the kids looked like they were having a blast hanging out at the beach, learning about the technology and each other, not to mention acting like real scientists. The kids came up with a model, pondered a few different research questions with two giant concept maps then slide into their waders and took their first samples with the whirl packs. It looked like so much fun and the smell was heavenly!
Tomorrow we need to come up with a good research question as to why the beach closes then follow this up with taking our samples. The kids will learn more about what the numbers of pH, D.O., water temp etc mean to the lake and the organisms that inhabit it. Next they will go out on the boat, take more samples and then learn how to plate their sdamples so we can count them on Wed in the lab. It is alot to do but I am sure my team, will get it done!
July 24th, 2009
Throughout this course my idea of what inquiry is and how inquiry is carried out have changed drastically and this is shown from my groups camp goals and objectives everyday. To me inquiry is student based and student centered and this is shown in our camp models.
To get camp underway we went to Harley-Allendale for our concept interviews. During our content interviews we accessed prior knowledge and used that knowledge to guide out questions and really learned about the students that we will have during camp. We asked questions that made students use their prior knowledge about the water cycle and water pollution to formulate a hypothesis about what would happen during the series of dilutions. At each dilution students were ask about what they were thinking and the next dilution was made only after all kids collaborated with each other on a possible answer. In the end students were blown away that the cup still glowed with the black light. The concept interviews were not inquiry but some elements of inquiry were involved. Students accessed prior knowledge, students answered questions together in a small community of learners, were asked and answered authentic questions but with the time constraints of ten minutes it was hard to include all of the elements of inquiry. To make it inquiry students would have had to make the model of the watershed themselves and then relate it to the water cycle.
Compared to the concept interviews, camp week is full blown inquiry for our kids. They are going to be at the beach making their own science questions and trying to solve these scientific questions with the use of technology. We as the teachers are not by any means dictating to the students what to do, or giving them a series of steps as to what needs to be accomplished everyday but acting a facilitators and guiding them to find the answers to the questions and problems they come across. Right on day one student’s students’ will use their prior knowledge and personal interests to construct a research model of the beach. They will then use this model to come up with a series of possible questions that they want to try and solve using the technology that is available to them. From this list of questions students will analyze these questions to find out which ones are testable and get rid of the ones that are not testable. The group will work together to do this and pick the question they want to research and find data on. This makes their beach experience personalized because they are doing what they want to do for camp.
On day 2 students will be collecting their data using the probes, palm pilots etc. and then plating water samples. They will do this with very little direct instruction as possible and again we as group leaders will be there to guide and assist in the collection. After data is collected on day 2, day 3 will be primarily reading and analyzing the data that was collected in conjunction with our research model. Students will be taught how to think like a scientist as they read plates, count bacteria colonies and then design a way to present this material at the symposium on Saturday to the entire camp.
On the last two days students will use even more technology to design a presentation to show what they have learned and found while working at the beach. Their presentation will be a mix of videos, power point slides, a tri-fold poster and their will be pamphlets that will be handed out to the community. Camp is going to be a great week and I am sad that I will miss the four days but I am excited to lead on Friday. It will a fun and exciting week for the kids and they will learn a lot about the beach, how to think like a scientist and use this knowledge to critically analyze problems and solve them as well.
July 21st, 2009
I had a blast at the interviews and it was very refreshing after the morning I had. it is never a bad thing to be surrounded and have the ability to teach, or just plain hangout with kids. no matter what the situation is…If your lesson plans is going superb or is turining out to be crap, you need to relax and realize you have the best job in the world!
Our demo went well but like every lesson I have ever taught there are always somethings that can be done better and that makes each year better than the last. I have activities that I love doing and every year I have things I want to change and can not wait until the next year to run the activity better. We did everything we wanted to do in getting to know the kids, accessing prior knowledge and showing them something really cool to get them charged up for camp.
If I were the only teacher with 30 kids in front me getting ready to run through those stations things would have been alot different. It was nice to have my group members there to fall back on but if it were just me in my classroom I would have run a jigsaw activity with groups. Safety would be a concern so I would probably set up and control the elephant toothpaste station but as for the other stations I would have prepped them the day before as to what we were going to be doing so they knew ahead of time what to expect, maybe even had the room set up like they would be for the stations so they could see the layout. the stations themselves would have to very explicit directions. Giving clear, understandable directions is something I myself am still trying to do a better job of. When I have coffee combined somehting really cool to do in class I go nuts, talk fast and my ADHD makes me go a mile-a-minute. A rule I have been trying to get in place is that I say the directions three times. I have them written on the board, I show them and repeat them and then I call on students to tell me what we are doing. Three times usually does the trick.
With five stations in a 85 minute block I would start with a warm-up (10 min), move to directions (5 min; given I have prepped them the day before), run the five stations with one minute transition time (55 min), Closing (10 min). The closing would be a positive/negative listing activity with a follow-up homework having studnets writie about their favorite station. I would have them write down why it is their favorite, give evidence, and explain how they would have made it better.
Ok…Off to write my grant!
July 19th, 2009
I’d like to stress the fact I just finished my 4th year of teaching and writing goals is ok but coming up with the proper wording of objectives is a pain in the butt!! Goals are long term and objectives are short-term and measureable. Every lesson plan of everyday I have SWBAT’s and although I may not have the proper wording I am always constantly assess my students informaly. Right when they walk into my room I start. Every lesson starts with a warm-up that lasts approx 10 minutes and in that short period of time I am talking with students about their warm-up, what we are going to do that day, asking them how their day is going and getting a feel for how each students is doing. I feel that you can not put a value on this and this is the most important part of class for me. It sets the tone for the day.
Throught the lesson I am again constantly asking questions to every student about what they are doing, what they are learning and what is troubling them. I use this information to adjust tomorrows plan and even the current lesson plan on the fly if need be. It is much easier to re-teach current topics right on the spot than it is to have to re-teach topics after a summative assessment, like a unit exam. At times I re-teach the entire class and I also will pull a single student or a group of students to the side to review and help them.
That was on my mind. I am not very good at remembering to blog and my goal is to write a little after each class.