Getting started with notebooks in science

The Common Core hits science, aaarrrrggghhhh…. or is it (shhh) not so bad? 

Continue Reading August 30, 2014 at 10:31 AM Leave a comment

Improv All Kinds of Classrooms

Improv ideas for all kinds of classrooms, especially science. Have fun yourself, relax a little and enjoy a smorgasbord of improv games to add to the start of your year.

Continue Reading August 13, 2014 at 7:21 AM Leave a comment

Analogies to Assuage August Anxiety Dreams

I’m inspired by Ben Johnson’s Edutopia blog ‘What does it take to be a great teacher?’ but I was unnerved at the thought of defining myself as even approaching ‘great’. Because like being a ‘good’ Christian, as soon as you say so, there’s your righteousness reward, and not in heaven. Besides, in both cases, it’s the reflection and the striving that might accidentally, unconsciously and occasionally make for greatness.

I also watched some BigThink videos on economic collapse from Michael Lewis, Dr.Kaku’s Universe, and some Neil DeGrasse Tyson on why go to Mars? All speakers used analogy-based explanations to put powerful pictures that will stay in my mind, like the central hanger of a mobile – you have that and everything else, the little details, hang from it. Analogy involves, pictures, sensations, emotion, and those are incredibly powerful memory hooks for me as well as for my students.

Here are some that I keep in mind in the anxiety-dream time of August:

Surfing in Uncertain Seas - waves are a little unpredictable but it’s fun to ride them anyway, gives me confidence that I’ll maybe even enjoy some unexpected changes. You have to pay attention to what’s coming in the distance as well as what’s welling up right behind you. But you know that you’ll make it to the shore sooner or later.

Mountain Biking the Bumps – works so much better to loosen your hands and arms riding down hill, keep your head up on the big picture, go with the general direction and don’t flip over the handlebars from looking down. Look where you DO want to go, not where you don’t, or you will. It’s called ‘target fixation’ and it’s amazing how well this re-framing works in real life – in difficult conversations with colleagues, kids, parents and administrators.

Horse Riding Classes of Kids - Controlling a giant horse is pretty much mind over matter. You have to have the confidence you can do it or the horse knows and messes with you. Same with the much larger mass of 28 12 year olds compared to you. Both have been picked up when foals and unconsciously think you still could. But still, horses and classes are bigger than you, you can’t force them, it’s so much more subtle and interesting than that.

Captain of the Ship – the class is the crew, we’re going on a great exploration around new continents. Here’s the picture of the painting: 6th curric painting

The Wet Fish Fight for when things really get nasty. Repeatedly. The whacky-whack, stagger back. It helps me think of fighting back sort of like Asterix in the cool French comic books.  Not mean, but still standing up for what’s right with relish.

Add more of your own in the comments below…

August 5, 2014 at 2:01 PM 2 comments

Engaging students in rigorous research

Those words have often not gone together – engagement, rigor and research. But finally, they are for most students most of the past week or so, with the new and improved Take Action Project. I’m excited to share the activities and pictures with you.

Continue Reading May 18, 2014 at 12:07 PM Leave a comment

The Take Action Project 2.0 is a go: Pick an Action.

I’ll be posting the new Take Action Project in parts, after Marshall and I actually teach it. So far, we have managed to fan initial student interest in environmental issues as they choose what to do and start a little light research. It’s a balancing act between student choice, rigor and unmanageable chaos. So far, so fun, for us as well as our classes.

Continue Reading April 27, 2014 at 11:28 AM Leave a comment

The Sands of Time Project: Intro to Evolution

An engaging, interactive project to teach the timeline of life with modeling clay, sand, soda bottles, dirt, and a little mystery.

Continue Reading April 12, 2014 at 12:56 PM Leave a comment

Animal Voice Over Film Festival

Image

The latest project about to launch in 7th grade science, hitting concepts in animal behavior and natural selection as well as quite a few ELA CC standards. Animal stalking and film making, creative script writing skills included as well as hopefully, hilariousness.

I’m excited about this because I’m getting kids to make my favorite kind of YouTube time waster! Here’s a link to the class room ready project with stepping stones and links for a self-paced, student centered project. Let me know how it goes and I’ll update in the comments section too. It’s at NextLesson.org

February 17, 2014 at 9:12 PM Leave a comment

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