The Take Action Project at the Ca Science Teachers Conference today!
Yeah! Karen and I had a great time meeting other teachers interested in TAP this rainy afternoon in Sacramento. Mostly middle and high school teachers, a predominance of life science but a good number of physical and Earth science teachers too, plus a few from the world of professional development.
Talking about why I developed the project in the first place, I felt the sadness and worry in the room around the looming environmental catastrophe, and the dilemma that we all face in our jobs daily – how to teach the scientific evidence without having our students giving up in despair or distraction. I’m hoping that the message taken away is that by empowering kids to make a difference, using science and their passion, their sense of fun and need for meaning, that maybe we can rest just a little easier.
I was conscious of pushing two things for the sake of us, the adults – the project management skills we teach students. And that doing what you love can be tweaked a little and it can be just what the world needs. Realizing now, that I should have had people share out. What was I thinking? Truth is, I was pretty nervous and time conscious. But next time…And for now, tell us in a comment below.
People gamely played the Relationship Game, and we figured out that most things are hitched up to pretty much all the other problems in the world although, sadly in 6 minutes, we did not untangle the root causes of everything. Imagine :-).
Throughout, there were excellent questions – how do you ‘sell’ this to administrators? How could this work in a juvenile hall school? (not sure about that one, but hope it could.) What about students who want to work on denying global warming?What’s the timing of it? Does it impact test scores? (shh, 7th grade isn’t tested. But research suggests that improved student motivation does improve test scores. TAP was easily the most remembered part of 7th grade science according to our end of year survey.)
Thank goodness Karen patiently sat with me until late last night at school, going over the slides to make sure that the whole thing was clear enough for people to get a better idea of what the project looks like and feels like. And finishing with slides of actual, named kids from last year showing off their projects, looking all sweet and proud, with a snippet of story behind each, that was the part that makes me remember why we’re doing this.
I’d be so glad to help other teachers get this up and running, it would be my pleasure. If you attended, please get in touch after you’ve seen the materials at the website, if you have any questions or want to talk over ways to make it work for your situation. So far, it’s being used in a church youth group in our town and in Tacoma, Wa in a very different, urban population to ours in Orinda. Let us know your experiences, your thoughts, and ideas for making it better. Looking forward to getting to know you and working together.