Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Student Connections

Wow! I mean Wow!

Yesterday, listening to Amanda talk about how she has her students make connections with the topics of study I was thinking about the change that is starting. I am thinking about the scince classes that I teach and how I too hope the students learn something about education in general before they leave. I hope they learn that they do not need to be passive but can be active in their education. To see what other teachers are doing to get the students to be excited is very helpful to me. I start to wonder what I am doing that makes a change in the system and a different feel in the classroom.

I cannot wait to see what the people at AHS are doing next.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

On line Astronomy

So, I tried something new. (This group is having an impact on me.)

In my astronomy class we did an activity, I think it was a scavenger hunt, that used a Word template as a guide. The activity was on the small bodies in the Solar System. The websites were on the worksheet and this guided the student's work. The students were on task the whole time and seemed to enjoy seeing what was out there. My current struggle is with the grading. I had the students turn the assignment into the class drop-box. I do not know if there is a way to give the student feedback. Any ideas?

Here is the assignment:

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Low Scores? Are they important?

The following article talks about states that fail on standardized science tests.

Are we failing these kids since we are not meeting their needs or are they failing since the instrument is not well written?

This article worries me when I start to think about it. The media drives a "craze" sometimes. This seems like one of those cases. When we do the CSAP science portion this year I am frightened to think what will happen in our classrooms if the scores are not good.

Maybe we need to look at what we do and see if it is meeting the needs of the students. But what about the test? If we are trying to meet the test then are we missing the point of getting studnets to construct their own learning (at least in some cases)? If the scores on a test drive what we do in the classroom then I think we need to rethink standardized tests and their use. How do we start that discussion with people that are interested in the test scores? Shouldn't we be worried about the idea of creating an interest in science that would lead students into future studies of science? (These are the things I have been occupied with and are taking away from my time reading.)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Learning Styles

I wonder if the fact that we are trying to think of all students (actually all individuals) as one group we are missing some of them? What I mean is, if we are changing our thoughts on education are we going to still be "missing" some of the students?

If people cannot agree on how to raise a child, how can we agree on the best way to change the education system?

I think that we can change things. The only issue that I am trying to figure out is how to make the changes in my classroom reach all the different learning styles. Since people learn by doing, seeing and hearing (basically) I need to find ways to have the activities that I am doing reach these different people. I wonder if the changes to the classroom setting are not including some of these people?

My other question to myself and the others in the group is what to do about the learners who are apethetic? There are going to be people who just don't care about what is going on around them. Do we try to undo nine and sometimes more years of "education" where the person has only learned that they don't want to learn?

I guess these are the things we are trying to answer.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Karl asked about the math involved in the gas laws in chemistry. There are some simple conversions with gas laws and there are some substitution into equations and then the rearrangement of the equations to solve for the missing variable. Like P1V1=P2V2 this equation shows the inverse relationship between pressure of a gas and its volume. When the students have three variables they are asked for the fourth.

I do not like the way that this attempts to explain the situation. I think that the kids are learning how to plug in numbers and get an answer. I do not think that it explains the situation. What I would like the students to understand, for example, is that when volume goes down then pressure will go up. If they setup the math first and in the above example first multiply the smaller volume and then divide by the bigger volume. (This will give an answer where the final pressure is smaller than the new one.) The understanding of the material is more inportant than the answer to the math. However, it seems that the students want to knwo the equation and not the concept behind it. How do we get the students involved?

A lot of times the students can do the math with numbers but not with units. Lets say we need to get meters to concel out when we start with meters per second. The students do not seem to understand if meters is on top of the units we are starting with then they need to divide by meters to get it to cancel out. How do we help them see the math of words?

To answer Karl's other question all students need to be concurrently enrolled in advanced algebra.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Gas Laws

In the science office we were talking about the student's inability to work simple math problems. In my class we are discussing the gas laws and how the variables relate. The students were having a hard time with the math of these laws. One student even mentioned that they were working with these types of expressions in math. Some other students could not see the math relationships in the chemistry. I am wondering how one group of students can be asked to reach their own understanding of chemistry if they do not understand the math principles in class. How do we "adjust" the background information to make sure that they actually have it?