Tuesday, November 07, 2006
I forget sometimes and want to create a new activity with lots of "bells and whistles" when there are activities that are a little more simple (and student led investigations) which are already in use.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Football is coming to an end and that should free up some time for me to focus on other things.
The applications for this years Toyota International Teacher Program were sent to me this month and I had a little envious feeling about the teachers who will be applying this year. What a trip...What a trip...
My two year old and I played in the snow. I think that it was the first time that we have done that. It will not be forgotten anytime soon.
AP Chemistry is keeping me very busy and I am having a difficult time finishing all of the work (labs, assignments, notes etc.) for this class.
My first year chemistry students are having a hard time doing the things that they need to do to finish the course. Some of them are starting to ask: "Why do we need to know this?" I would have thought that with all of the new activites that I am trying and the way that the class is structured (more student centered) I would like to think that this question had answered itself. I wonder if the stuedents are aware of the changes? Does this class look any different from the others? How can I use the computers to design student led activities for calculations and problems that the students have no idea about? The basic concepts in chemistry are easy to interpret using the computers but when we enter untis based on math concepts with chemical equations the students have a very hard time explaining them.
I see how the computers are easy to implement in classes when some of the background information has been covered but how can the consturctivist approach be applied to a chemistry classroom? When the information of the course is new how can the investigations be implemented?
The Astronomy class is an entirely different beast. That class is a great place to test new learning activities and see what the students come up with. Recently the students were given all of the unit inforamtion that I would have presented to them and they could complete it in any order. I was a little worried about how that would work but the students were ready to complete all of the work by the deadline that they set! The final project was a brochure that would sell a telescope. When the students asked if their brochure was "okay" I started responding with "Would you buy it?" - Thanks Mr. Fisch for that idea. How could I do this with other topics? I am currently working on the idea for the final project, more to come later.
Since it seems that doing the same old stuff in education is a lot easier than changing things to meet the student's needs I can see why teachers and administrators are resistant to this mode of thought. It asks all of us to think outside of whatever box we started in and that kind of reflection can cause problems. We are asking ourselves to critically think about what we do daily and with all of the other stuff that we have going on we tend to not react well. The thought that those who can...do...and those who can't...teach seems to be a perception in the business world that would not be correct for our building. I even find myself thinking that if I had some of the teachers in this building earlier in my schooling then I might have been an English major or a history major but my chemistry teaher was the one that helped me find what I liked to learn about. Isn't that what school is supposed to be? Helping the students find their interests?
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
"Flying by myself in a tiny aircraft over lonely woods: I have no one to blame
if I make a bad judgement, and the laws of physics won't listen to my excuses.
What would my life be like if I always had to take full responsibility?"
- Mark Olson (Taken from my Starbucks cup The Way I See It #128)
What would this do to our days if people thought of this kind of thing every time they had a decision to make?
The conversation progressed to a point where the student said he felt grades were detrimental to learning. When asked for explaination of his thoughts I found out that he felt grades were something that students were working towards. While this might be a good temporary goal for students he thought that the material would become secondary to the grade. I told him that, as a group of teachers, we are looking at how to overcome that. I think he felt excited to be a part of a school where we are asking these difficult questions. While we don't have the answers at least we are asking these and other difficult questions. (This might be why there are teachers who are struggling with what we are doing.) He also wanted to know why we were trying to take a college level class (AP Chem) and apply high school standards to it? I did not even know what to say to this.
The thing about these conversations is that they made me think about two big items.
1) How could we use grades to give feedback and show progress and not just as an end in themselves? (I am going to try using more of an AP scale, 0 to 5, in an elective that I teach.)
2) Where was I in high school? I think that I was trying to get through high school and was not asking why I needed to learn something. Are there other students who are asking these important questions about school and learning and grades? or is this young man a special case? Should we be asking them for help in designing material instead of jsut telling them?
That is a lot of thought conversation between a student and a teacher. (I will let you try to figure out who is who in this post. I mean the teacher and the student.)
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Check out their work in progess at www.ahsastronomy.pbwiki.com
Sunday, September 10, 2006
After a good start to the school year and with students getting used to using the computers in class I have tried to spend the past few days getting an idea of how to use a wiki for my class.
I am not even sure where this is going but I would like for my classes to write an on-line book for themselves.
I guess the trouble right now is figuring out what to do with a blank slate. I am trying pbwiki and I am not sure if I need to invite all of the students so that they can add to it. I am not sure if I need to create a few pages or if we can get by with just one page for now. Does anyone have any ideas?
I think that this could be a very powerful tool but I feel lost.
Monday, August 28, 2006
"Only when sleeping do we make no mistakes. Mistakes are the privilege of the active person, who can start over and put things right."
I am thinking about the classroom that I am a part of (no longer "my classroom") and I am energized by the work that the students are doing. They actually are engaged and can do the things that I set them to do, with-out me "holding their hands". If we just let them work they will.-
Friday, August 18, 2006
I told them that life changes now, here, in this room. It is a journey and I am excited to be on it.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
So, some people have been wondering where I have been.
Let me tell you...
Allison Brianne was added to our family on the 25th of July. She weighed 6 lbs. 10 ozs and was 19 inches long. Everyone is doing great. Megan is a good big sister, mom is good and dad..well, dad is.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
The other disussions that we had in the group were very good. The grading talk, while overdone (haha), was very helpful to hear about where other people were on their feelings of grading.
I cannot wait to see what others are doing in their classroom's this fall.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Since I retuned from Japan I have had a few thoughts about the trip (see earlier post "A Summary"). Most importantly lately is the thought of "Genchi Genbutsu" which means essentially to go and see. There is a lot in the world and it is not as scary as I would think. I guess the strongest thing that I left thinking is, where next? If the world is calling me to see it, how and where do I go? I want to go out and see. I want Kaizen my world. I want to take my students to different levels and places. I want my family to see what the world is made of. The people, the places and the sounds of Japan are the things that will cause the most reflection in my world.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Out of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.
I was thinking about this and my classroom for the next year. As I embark on a new chapter of my career I think that there will be a lot of discord and difficulty. How I look at these items will determine how my attitude changes each day. As a team we are going to go ahead and try to find out one to one notebook instruction in a public school. There is little that I have seen on how to do this effectively in a Chemistry classroom. I know that there are ways to do this but I am afraid that I will fall back on the ways that have worked in the past. Time is the biggest struggle when trying to implement this type of change in a classroom.
What will my classroom look like? How will the students respond? How will I adapt and respond? What will the next few years look like? Is this the next level for instruction in my classes?
I do think that stretching teachers, outside of their comfort zones, is what will pushthe students to new levels. For this outlook, I am excited to be a part of this reform in schooling and proud to be a part of it.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
While in Tokyo I and some of my new friends enjoyed a baseball game. It sure was fun and the view was amazing. We watched a game between the Yakult Swallows and the Chunichi Dragons. I had noodles for dinner and made a friend that collected WWII airplanes (two were given to me as gifts!). Note: Two photos (The one of me giving the gift and the shot of the Jumbo-Tron with us on it) are from another Toyota International Teacher Deb Cole. You can find her blog here.
Wait did he say Alan Greenspan?
I have never been involved in a conversation like this before!
Back to the story.
Anyway, Mr. Lentz asked Mr. Greenspan "What keeps you awake at night now that you are retired?" The response is what I found interesting.
Mr. Grenspan's response was that he worries about the kids in school who are not being built into thinkers. They are do'ers who can fill rolls where there is little creative/independant thought taking place. Students need to be working in the math, science and engineering fields. The US needs people to fill rolls that are going to open soon.
After hearing about this conversation I am again left wondering if we are doing the best that we can to get studnets interested in the fields like math and science or are we turning them off? I cannot wait to try some of the new things that are coming to our school this year. I hope that this is a question that we as a group of teachers continue to ask. These are not the kind of conversations that teachers find themselves in all the time and I think that there was a lot of value in being a part of it. What will the flat world have in-store for my kids?
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
For the actual press release about the Toyota International Teacher Program click here.
Let me tell you a little about june 23rd and 24th.
I was taken awayby United airlines to LAX from DIA for the start of an adventure that I was greatly looking forward to. There were four other teachers from the state of Colorado on our flight (Kelly from Greeley, Saralynn from Joes, TJ from Denver and me). How did we find each other if we had no met before the trip you might ask......
Well, the Toyota group that was "taking care" of us had provided a handy rolling carry-on that had the groups logo on the outside. We talked briefly about ourselves and then boarded the flight to LAX. While on the flight, I shared for the first of many times the excitement that I had about the trip. The man sitting next to me was the lucky soul that was able to hear the explanation about the trip and all. We had a great talk and what a small world it was already since we had some common friends.
Once at LAX with my bags in tow, alongside my new friends, I started to see that this was no ordinary trip for a teacher. There was a young man holding a sign for "Toyota International Teachers." He took all of our bags and led us outside to a waiting Limo! Then the short trip to the hotel in Redondo Beach, California. I had never been to this area of LA and was excited to walk around. However, I felt a little odd being dressed in what the group would come to call "Business Casual Attire"since I was on the beach.
We had a short getting to know you session and then it was on to the first of our many bus rides over the next two weeks. We went to Toyota USA offices in Torrance, California. These are some amazing buildings. There is even a "green" building that is environmentally friendly. We were treated like stars. There was food, drink and entertainment. We talked with some very important people at Toyota USA and became even more excited about the trip.
My roommate was a newly married teacher (Jeremy from Indiana) and he was just as excited as I was about going to see Japan.
We had breakfast in the hotel and listened to a few speakers. One of the speakers was from Toyota University (Michiko Powell) and she presented some of the basic do's and don'ts for travel to Japan.
What a couple of days! I have never as a teacher been treated this nicely. What would the world be like if teachers were treated like this all of the time in every country?
Any help would be good.
So, before I start talking about how the "Toyota International Teacher Program" to Japan changed the way that I think about the world, let me tell you a little about what we did.
The trip started on the 23rd of June for me as I left DIA (Denver International Airport) and headed west to LAX (Los Angeles International Airplort). There were three other teachers from Colorado and we were all on the same flight to LAX. We had never met before and had no idea of what were going to experience in Japan.
There was an evening orientation at Toyota Headquarters in Torrance California.
June 24th - Orientation/Cross-cultural speaker and departure for Narita Airport in Tokyo.
June 25th - Arrival in Tokyo and a free evening.
June 26th - Toyko Orientation, presentation by an environmental speaker for Toyota, a Kabuki performance and a free evening.
June 27th - Visited Soka University and met with students and a professor, visited a high school and talked with teachers and students, a baseball game in Tokyo and a free evening.
June 28th - Presentation at Roppongi Hills on architecture, environment and industry. We visited Meiji Shrine and the US Embassy. That evening we traveled to Nagoya by the shinkansen (bullet train).
June 29th - Visited Toyota Commemorative Museum, TMC Showroom and viewed the production line for the Camry and Prius. We also had an introduction to the Toyota Production System (TPS). That evening we traveled to Kyoto by the bullet train.
June 30th - Met Mr. Alex Kerr who gave an overview of all the stuff in Kyoto and an introduction to his program called Origin Arts Program. We were allowed to explore Kyoto for the last half of the day on our own.
July 1st - We were at the Origin Program today where we learned about Calligraphy, Waraku, Tea Ceremony and Noh Drama.
July 2nd - We departed for Nagasaki and then to the island of Hirado. We traveled to the hotel on Hirado, enjoyed an onsen and looked around the town. Another group of teachers went to another island for a stay there.
July 3rd - We took a tour of the town and castle, visited Hirado Elementary School and visited with the students, and that night we had an overnight stay with a family on the island.
July 4th - We traveled back to Nagasaki and had a program debriefing at the Art Museum. We were given time at the Peace Museum and Memorial Park. That night we had a farewell party.
July 5th - We traveled from Fukuoka Airport to Kansai to LAX to DIA.
July 7th - Jet-lag and head fog catch up with me.
July 8th - Finally have some clear thoughts and can write stuff on paper.
Well, there it is. The whirlwind tour of the country of Japan. Someone asked if I would go back. My answer was a strong "YES". I will put some detailed entries from the trip up over the next couple of days.
Let see, since football camp at the end of the school year, I have:
1) Worked on the house
2)Rode my bike around Metro Denver
3) Traveled to Japan (more on this later)
4) Planned for our second daughter
5) Traveled to the mountains
6) Played with my daugter Megan
7) Read some books
8) Worked on some AP Chemistry problems (which is a new prep for me in the fall)
9) Stressed about making my classroom more student centered
10) Played around with my iPod
11) Worked in my yards
12) Attended some very important birthday parties (Megan turned two)
13) Sold part of my childhood toys on eBay
14) Read some blogs/made some comments
15) Met with some teachers at school to determine laptop computer use policies
16) Rewrote my classroom policies
17)Watched "The Tour"
18) I am sure that I am missing some stuff but this is what my brain would allow right now.
I am not sure but this sounds like a lot and I know that other teachers are doing the same kind of things. There are people out there who think that summer is just a nice time off for teachers. I am sure that there are those teachers out there who do little thinking on their practice in the classroom. I am not having one of those summers. This is not a post that says how good I am or how much I am doing to be better but one to just remind myself that there is constant work that needs to be done. The work is not only in the classroom setting but for me also.
Japan was amazing and the next few posts that I make will be about that.
Has anyone been watching the Tour de France? Did you see the Alpe d' Huez stage? This has been an amazing Tour and the more I watch the more I think about education. If you do not know, a lot of the riders favored in the Tour were removed before the start. What this did was it left the other riders with a very "open" ride where there was no one favored rider but everyone had an equal chance. I thought about this a lot and what if our schools were places where all of the students had an equal chance. One where the playing field was level. What would that look like?
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
...and to hear the depth of Bahso's declaration in Oku no Hosomichi that " life itself is a journey." So easily we give our hearts to suffering old wars and imagining new ones, and our minds to poring over bank statements. But walking out under the flower-bright sky, we can also remember larger forces at work in the world.
I sometimes think that we do not take enough time to watch what is happening and reflect on it. We, and I am talking to myself here, try to over analyze things most of the time. I wonder if there are really as many things to fix about the education system or if we are looking to blame one part of a complex thing for the problems that we have. Are we looking at things for the future generations or are we fixing them for ourselves? When new reform is started, is it focused on the right things or are the people working on it out for themselves?
Just a thought...
"...we can also remember larger forces at work in the world."
Elder, John. Following The Brush, Boston: Beacon Press, 1993.
Blogging, I have not been doing much of anything lately.
I am reminded why it is so important to write things down in this profession. I try to remember what it was that made a day so special and I cannot. I try to think about what worked during a lesson (one that I thought was going to go so well) and what did not work and cannot remember. I try to recall what I was thinking and doing and that is missing also. I have never been good at keeping a journal and now that I have one, I forget about it? What is happening to me?
As think about my classroom for the fall, specifically about blogs, I hope that I can be a little more consistent about them. My falling behind is one thing but if I am asking students to participate and I am not serving as a good example what am I doing? I am excited about the new technology that is coming to my classroom and AHS but will I be able to use it to the fullest potential?
I am going on a study trip to Japan for a couple of weeks and I cannot wait to see this part of the world. I will be allowed to visit schools and talk to students, administrators and teachers. I will be staying with a family for a few nights and experience teh fullest of Japanese culture. As I prepare for a trip to Japan I am reminded to write things down. I will be visiting schools, cultural places, and houses. Is there anything that I could tell pepole about the trip to Japan? (I am not an expert but will try to discuss things when I return.) Feel free to ask.
I will not be taking my notebook computer with me and I feel some form of withdrawl already. It is back to pen and paper for me. I hope that I can keep up on this trip. Pictures will be coming.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
| || |
German-Swiss-American mathematical physicist, famous for his theories of relativity.
As I am sitting here tonight thinking about the world around me and the one that my children are growing up into, I wonder about what drives a person to do and be who they are? Is there some magic formula (you would think that a chemist could come up with one!) that helps determine what a person is and what motivates them? Is it genetics? Could it be just plain dumb luck? Do people decide what they are going to become? Does the world around them make the decisions? (Boy o' boy, I need to get some sleep.)
I know that there is a plan for all of us. I know that some people are motivated while others seem to not be. I think that school in general seems boring to students because they have lost a reason to be motivated. They seem to be looking for a way to find the secret easy path. (Not all of them mind you.) The question that I am really thinking about is how to motivate the ones that seem to not want to be motivated? I guess if I had the answer I would be a very rich person. Is it rewards that motivate? If so, why do grades defeat this?
If the goal of chemistry is to be a problem solving class then why are students not excited to learn about it? The world around the students is one filled with wonder and magic, I know, I see it in my daughter. I wonder how to get the students to be as excited about the stuff around them and how it all works together as my little one is. If some students are going into science and engineering because they like to look at the world around them and wonder then I guess I have done my job as a teacher. I do not think that I can get all of them to like science (that would be a Hatak utopia!) but just a few of them. What would it be like if one of the students that I have in class has the cure for cancer in them? or the details for space travel? or how to make the fields produce enough food to feed all who are in need? and I did not do my best to get them excited about science? I hear that the number of students majoring in science and engineering is lowest it has been in decades! Do they not want to work to find answers? Do they not wonder? How do I get these "lost" scientists interested?
I think that what we are doing as a group and with the new methods that I am trying at least I am doing something to reach this generation. I hope that I do not forget that the material is not nearly as important as the method of learning and self-motivation that comes from school.
- "Whoso neglects learning in his youth, Loses the past and is dead for the future."
- Euripides (484 BC - 406 BC), Phrixus
The usual excuses are presented about why teachers would not want to blog. (Time being the main issue.) I could not agree with this more but I think that there is more to it. Teachers need to see the value of having a journal that can be shared with other teachers. I do think that there are those teachers who find the value in keeping a journal and those teachers who think that sharing with other teachers is very important. The struggle that I am having is finding the time to do all the things that I want to do. Truth be told, I will find the time in my day to accomplish the things that I want to do along with the things that I have to do. It becomes a list of priorities. I think that teachers need to stop using the time argument as an "easy out". We need to be looking at things that will help us to be more effective in the classroom and help the students to connect with material. Right now, I see the blog as a tool that can be more helpful to me and a way to discuss ideas with other educators.
As David Warlick says in the post referenced above:
Today, the world is the curriculum, and the world is changing every day. In a time of rapid change, education must become highly adaptable, a place where teachers can retool their classrooms every day. The time issue must be solved. ItÂs a very simple problem (granted that the solution would not be simple) that, if solved, would have a dramatic impact on teaching and learning. But a significant part of that impact would come from the professional discourse that would be necessary in order for teachers to productively manage adaptable classrooms. It would come out of well thought-out and compellingly written (and illustrated) conversations from teachers who are paying attention, reflecting on their observations, sharing their insights concerning the impact on teaching and learning, sharing, and continuing the conversation.When I read this post, I started thinking about my classes. I cannot ignore the fact that the method of teaching science that is occuring now is really not science. I have said it before that I think the current method of science instruction teaches the students about science and what has been done in science but does a lousy job teaching the students how to be scientists. Then there is the issue of motivation. I do not just mean the motivation of the students, that would be a whole different entry. I mean the motivation of the teachers (I am talking to myself right now, so feel free to listen). It takes time, energy, resources, and a willingness to fail to change what is happening in a classroom. Time is the easiest scapegoat. I think if I can figure out the resources then the time will not be as big of an issue. The truth is that it takes a lot of work to create the changes that I would like to see happen. It is good to see that there are a few teahers out there who are willing to try to change and then continue to evaluate what they are doing.
From: Teacher's Calendar, Andrews McMeel Publishing, March 30 entry.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
I have blogged with my students once this semester. I am having a difficult time getting my students to see the benefits of blogging and how to talk to each other outside of the classroom. I do not feel like I set up the blogging very well. I hope that next semester will provide the technology to blog everyday. I am in the process of evaluating my goals (again) and seeking new ways of meeting the needs of my students. I am not happy with the way that the goals are going.
Tune in again soon for new goals and old goals revisited.
It seems that the administration and the teachers at AHS are ahead of other places when it comes to gender studies. I hope that there is a way we can share the information that we are learing with other professionals in education.
While talking to my sister, who teaches in Bakersfield, about technology, we seem to be well ahead of some other schools. The school where my sister teaches is not seeking technology as a means for student learning. (Or, so it seems.) If schools want to prepare students for the "flat world," shouldn't they be proactive and not reactive? When are we as a profession going to team together to prepare students for the world and not wait for someone else to figure "it" out first? Is there a way to take our PLC's outside of the walls of AHS and connect with teachers elsewhere? How can we find the resources and time to do this? I am going to try somethings along with the trip to Japan this summer but are there other ways to get connected with people who are already very "busy"? Any ideas out there on how to get connected with other classroom teachers? (I mean in actual practice of a global classroom and not just reading about it.)
Saturday, March 18, 2006
I know that as a team we should be still talking about the use of common papers and how they are scored but there are times when the discussions are going nowhere. I wonder if there is an easy way to make sure the students are all being held to the same standards?
I also am having some thoughts on what to do with the notebook computers but I am having a hard time finding the time to write this stuff down. Any ideas? What about the three classroom teachers getting together to share ideas so that we can be consistent?
Saturday, March 11, 2006
Friday, March 03, 2006
Boy, oh boy, this group is really having an influence on me. I cannot wait to try some not so new ideas in my classes.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
I think that the fact that I am asking them to do more about their learning is not a key part to the "difficult" answer. I know that it might be a perceived portion of the "difficulty" but it is not the entire reason. I also know that when the students are asked to stretch their minds then they can accomplish much more than just the course material.
So, "okay" might be a little misleading. I am doing better than that. However, I too am being pushed out of my comfort zone and am learning more each day. That in itself is the best part of the changes that are happening in my classes.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Thank you for what you do for me and the kids!
1) Use the blog as a journal for my experience.
2) Use my class blogs next fall as a way for my students to experience education in Japan.
3) Keep open lines with the people that I meet on this trip through the blog.
I am not sure what the trip really looks like.....
I am not sure what the blog will look like....
I think this is what my students are feeling when I give some of these assignments. I guess that the teacher can be a life-long learner also.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
At the assembly today, the students heard a lot about choosing their own path in life. It involves living and loving and not losing the joy of learning. It seems that this talk fits right in with the things that we are trying to "fix" in education. I am going to start thinking of this as an educational improvement group and not a reform. I am not even sure if the CIT group (from the grants) is actually a reformation group. It seems like more often, I am trying to tweak the things that I am doing in the classroom and not totally redoing them. I need to try to focus on the positive a little more.
In the book Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi states:
The best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to
its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and
...optimal experiences add up to a sense of mastery - or perhaps better, a
sense of participation in determining the content of life - that comes as close
to what is usually meant by happiness as anything else we can conceivable
What I seem to be trying to do in my classroom is figure out what the "flow" should be.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
"One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."
The students that I talked to today said that they see me as the type of person who does not "count the number of crayons but just likes to color". If I can get my students to start thinking this way then I think I am changing the eduactional system for the better. If students seek what makes them happy in their studies then that is where I hope they will be at this point of the journey (I choose not to call high school the "end" of the journey but it is just another point on the map).
So, I will continue to try to figure out how to get the students to be the captain and driver of their own ship while I serve as the mechanic. Needless to say, I will continue to find ways to make school enjoyable for students and try to reignite the fire that they had when they raised their hands in first grade.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
This past week was interesting.
On Monday, I returned to my classes after sending them to the computer lab, with a sub, to investigate the bonding of atoms in molecules. Even with guided questions and web page suggestions, they did not spend much time trying to figure out the material for themselves. They even asked if they were going to " get points" for doing the activity. (ARRGH!!!) Will this be easier if I start it earlier with them?
In lab, I watched a lot of copying and not much comprehension.
Test on Friday. Same results as last year. New methods tried. Refinement needed in lessons. Will I figure this out? I mean the constructivist approach to science education. Is there an "Idiots Guide To" out there? Will students continue to ask me to teach them the material that is in the text? I understand that they might need clarification but "spoon feeding"? I mean come-on.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Thursday, January 26, 2006
I cannot belive how this worked, or at least seemed to. I wonder if the students see the value in this type of concept map? I know that they were not happy about doing this at first but the conversations that I overheard were amazing. My goal is to have them do this for each unit of the semester and then for the final we are going to try ot make one big concept map. I hope this goes as well as I think it will...
(To Be Continued...)
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Are we just seeing different ideas right now and the answer is coming from some higher power? Is this one of the "cycles" in education that my college professors talked about? As I am looking for answers about grading? I am just becomming more and more frusterated about the discussions? What are we trying to decide? I am looking at what I am doing in the area of grading? (Knowing that I could do more to help students.) I am just a little afraid about what I have been reading/hearing and the direction that this is going. Is a decision coming about grades or is this just going to be one of those "neat"discussions in education?
Anyone else out there feeling these things? Thinking these thoughts?
Monday, January 23, 2006
I guess if I had to come up with a goal this semester it would be to engage the students in meaningful discussions which are a means of investigating the essential learnings in class. I would also make sure that the students understand what the essential learnings are for each of the classes that I teach.
Plan of Action:
1) The primary means for engaging the students in discussions will be the classroom stucture that enables the studnets to take an active role in the investigation of the material that we are studying. This will be through continnued use of inquiry based experiments, blogs for discussion and classroom activities.
2) The students will use blogs to discuss topics that we do not have time to cover in class. This will cover material that is important to the study of the sciences but should not be limited to the core material.
3) The students will encorporate a greater use of technology into their understanding of the essential learnigns. They shoudl use the internet and other resources to research, discuss, evaluate, and compose writings that are based on the topics that we are studying. These documents will include but are not limited to lab reports and discussion papers.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
I had the students pair up and try to convince each other of why the persentages should be the way that they decided. Then they were to agree on percentage assignments. Next, the students had to pair up with another group and do the same thing. The groups kept getting larger and larger until we were back as one group. We then decided as a class what the percentages should be.
Some students left happy and others were unhappy. The group of students that concerns me is the group that did not care. Do they really have no input? or has no teacher ever asked them? I wonder what this will look like if I do the same activity with a single assignment and not the course? I know Cara has tried this and I am excited about trying it also.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
If we have a hard time doing this, how do we get the students to participate more?
This week, I took my classes to the computer labs and had them send me an e-mail. This seems to work better than when I assigned it as homework. After they sent the e-mail, I had an online assignment for them to complete. This was helpful since some of the mail came fast and others took a little while. (They had to set-up an account.)
I have not given them a blog assignment yet. I am waiting a little bit so we can have some discussions in class first. When I asked the students about blogs, only a handful of them said that they used them before so I wanted to wait.
There seem to be a lot of topics that I could choose from this semester to blog about. Maybe my brain is now thinking about them.
I tried Amanda's idea of introducing the semester as a key concept and then having the students attempt to tie everything to that concept. I am overly excited about trying this and I think it will help the students see the big picture.