Tag Archives: teaching

Interesting Ways to Use…

3 Feb

Found a nice collection of “Interesting ways to use _____” for education.  Links include interesting ways to use Google docs, Prezi, Wallwisher, Nintendo Wii, blog posts, and lots more.  Check it out.

Awesome idea alert

23 Jan

jenga 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.

I feel so hopeless right now.

22 Jan

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. 

Frustration

Frustration

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?

Teaching science as religion

22 Jan

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.

Romney on Merit Pay

17 Jan

I am shocked to hear AP teachers specifically mentioned in merit pay.

Why do you teach?

7 Jan

Why do you teach?

Is your goal to make sure each of your students learns the geographic impact on the rise and fall of major empires throughout world history?  Must all of your students understand the value of finding the limit of a function?  Do your students need to be able to explain how the architecture of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells suggests a common origin?

These are all worthy goals, to be sure.  As educators, we are passionate about our subject areas.  Naturally, we would love for our students to love them as well.  Not many things could make me more proud than for a student of mine to go on to do great things in biology. 

Realistically, I know that most of my students will never have a career even remotely related to biology.  Do our goals as teacher’s need to include covering the subject matter?  Of course!  That is what teaching, fundamentally, is.  Yet I fear that many teachers get bogged down at this level of education and never consider what other things they can be accomplishing at the same time.

Perhaps Chris at Practical Theory illustrates this sentiment best–

For four years, kids share their lives with us. We see them grow up through some of the craziest times of their lives, and if we are lucky, we get to have some small impact on them. Within the context of f(x) = x -3 and Newton’s Laws and Their Eyes Were Watching God, we learn about each other, and we touch each other’s lives, and then they move on, and we have a new group of kids who we have to care for with the same energy and passion and dedication as we cared for the kids who just left. It is a bit twisted, really, but it’s kind of amazing too.

Amazing barely begins to describe it!  I think some teachers are scared of this aspect of the job, and thus it limits their teaching to strictly focusing on the academics.  Maybe they think it’s inappropriate to have fun with kids, to get to know them, to spend time with them as people.  Maybe they are uncomfortable trying.  Maybe they are worried that they are incompetent in this area, and thus they simply don’t try.  Yet, kids often don’t care what you know until they know you care

Teaching isn’t just about academics.  Maybe it should be, and maybe it shouldn’t.  I suppose that’s a whole ‘nother debate.  What I do know is that I choose to look at it differently.  Not only am I fortunate enough to have the opportunity to share my love of biology with teenagers, but I’m blessed to get to be a part of their lives.  And also blessed that they get to be a part of mine.

Web Tools for Educators

22 Dec

Are you an educator who wants to incorporate more technology into the classroom but don’t know where to start?  You’re not alone.  Even teachers that already use quite a bit of technology in their classes struggle with information overload.  There are so many cool things to try.  Where do you start?

Whether you are a teacher, administrator, involved in elementary education or secondary education, teach online classes, or teach ELL/ESL students, The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators can help you get started.  It’s a free e-book created by bloggers, teachers, and administrators. 

Here’s a sample from the high school section:

Synchtube (http://synchtube.com) is a service for watching videos and chatting about them at the same time. Here’s how it works; find the url of your favorite YouTube video, copy that url into Synchtube, and begin chatting with your friends while the video is playing. You can comment on the video and share thoughts inspired by the video while you’re watching. Synchtube allows you to have up to 50 people watching and chatting simultaneously.

The entire book is basically short synopses of various tools geared toward many different areas of education.  Even if you are tech savvy, I say give it a glance.  From just briefly browsing through it myself, Isaw lots of tools I have never heard of before.

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