The Smithsonian has a cool virtual dinosaur dig where students learn how fossils are uncovered, transported, and then assembled. Neat stuff!
Jenga. Who doesn’t love it?
So why not turn Jenga into a game to review with your students?
The author at “I Want to Teach Forever” gives you the details. Pure awesomeness.
This school year hasn’t gone as planned.
Don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t gone badly. My classes are good and well-behaved (for the most part), and the students seem to respond well to my style. Yet I haven’t been able to try any of the new things I envisioned for the year.
Part of the problem is that I’m at a new school. In some ways, I feel like a brand-new teacher again. The norms and values of the school as a whole are very different from my previous workplace. At my old workplace, there were a lot of passionate teachers. There were also, unfortunately, a lot of people who shouldn’t even be in the teaching profession. At my current job, the faculty seems good overall, but they don’t necessarily seem passionate. There are some people that I think may not even like kids.
They aren’t bad teachers, though, necessarily. Yet it’s still a very different dynamic than what I am accustomed to. At my previous workplace, differentiated instruction was really pushed (some might say “crammed down our throats”). New ideas were always being presented and tested out. I have lectured more at this new job than I’ve ever lectured before. I mentioned to my fellow subject matter teacher the other day that I thought we should have the kids do more projects. They appeared aghast at the idea.
I keep telling myself, “Maybe next year”. But what about this year? It hasn’t been bad, but I don’t know that I’ve grown much either. I’ve wanted to set up a Moodle all year and have gotten absolutely nowhere. The teachers here don’t seem very interested in trying new things, so I haven’t been able to get much tech support, either.
I’m frustrated. I’m lonely. I know no one likes a new person who comes in and starts changing things dramatically, and I understand and respect that. But when does that end?
How do you teach science?
Most science teachers ideally incorporate projects, research, and inquiry into the curriculum. Honestly, to what extent do we do that? We spend a lot of time also teaching the history of science and performing traditional “cookie-cutter” labs. We tell our students what the currently accepted theories are and then we test them over it, expecting them to have all of the “facts” memorized. And, if you’re in the public school system, you hardly have time for inquiry and what-not since you are essentially forced to teach to a standardized test.
So (brace yourself), how is this fundamentally any different than teaching religion?
In many circles those two words, science and religion, don’t get along so well (which in my opinion is silly, as the two are not mutually exclusive, but that’s a topic for another time). The last thing many science teachers want to hear is that they are, in fact, teaching religion.
If we don’t make the students actually PERFORM science though, how is it truly different? Telling the kiddos that Mendel mated pea plants and found a 9:3:3:1 ratio when he crossed parent plants that were heterozygous for two traits…teaching that the world came into existence as a result of the big bang…teaching that there is a teeny tiny organelle called a mitochondrion in your cells that basically helps you produce energy…these are all explanations that can be memorized. Very little of it is usually taught in such a way that the students come to this idea on their own.
And, taking this idea one step further, if this is how we teach science, is it any wonder that some students choose NOT to accept the currently accepted theories of evolution and the big bang? We often present it as memorizable facts–just like their parents and pastors do for creationism.
Bottom line: we need more project based learning, research, and inquiry in science classes. Make the students think, make them hypothesize, make them research, make them collaborate. Make them DO science.
Sadly, I haven’t performed so well on my “post a day” challenge. I have been posting more frequently, though. Life has just been so crazy since my father passed away. It’s hard to believe it’s been a month already.
A few nights ago I dreamed about my dad. It was very odd; I think in my dream I was confusing him being in the hospital with him already passing, and thus my dream took place in a mausoleum. My mother and I were at this mausoleum, talking to my dad, who was lying in what seemed to be a hospital bed. He seemed very loopy and “out of it”, and he was in and out of consciousness.
My mother was holding his hand, and she said to me, “You know, the doctors said he didn’t feel anything when he passed.”
I looked at him and I said, very upbeat so he wouldn’t know how sad we were, “Is that true, Daddy?” I don’t remember his response, but then I recall that I asked him, “So what’s it like, Daddy?”
He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said, “Oh, I can’t tell you that. You’ll have to see for yourself.”
Later, that sentence bothered me when I woke up. It made me feel paranoid, wondering if perhaps he knew something about my time left on Earth that I didn’t. Anyway, back in the dream, I persisted, saying, “Come on. Tell us something.”
This is the part I remember very clearly. He looked right at me, and his demeanor was so happy, and his blue eyes were sparkling just like they did in life. He said, “Well, it’s just…peace.” I think I woke up shortly after that, because that is all I remember.
Today, January 8, is the Reform Symposium (#rscon11 on Twitter). Basically the Reform Symposium is free professional development conferences/presentations/webinars on engaging children in the classroom.
The schedule of events can be found here: http://bit.ly/g5HuMX
Join us now!