Posts filed under ‘Starting the School Year’

Working Less, Kids Learning More with PBL

Working less for more engagement and more science content covered even with PBL.

Continue Reading September 19, 2016 at 1:46 PM Leave a comment

Using a Sibling Sense of Fairness for Science

Conclusions have always been a boring minefield. What did you find out? How sure are you? And kids always say either ‘very sure (because can’t be bothered to think too hard and don’t want to admit to playing with their cell phones under the desk the whole period) or some kind of pat answer like ‘we could have made sure to time it better’. But most really don’t get that analyzing an experiment for uncontrolled variables is an application of the sibling rivalry keen “It’s not fair!” And it’s usually not. Remember when you got to stay up later than I ever did at your age, Diana? Let’s not get into who sits by the window on car trips…

So Dr. Stupid came in today to drop rulers through children’s hands to find the effect of light level on reaction times as a practice run to remind students how to identify the experimental and responding variables, and how to spot the unfairness aka the uncontrolled variables and other bad practice. Then I assessed them on “Who has faster reaction times – boys or girls?” using the “A Grading Policy”. And that’s working out okay too – I get a quick snapshot of who gets it without getting mired in a point for this and not for that tedium. The repairs and redos will be on Monday after coaching while the kids who pass do science news activity.

At the end, they wrote “The ice cube experiment we did was unfair because….”

Seriously better than previous years. Really cool to point out how naturally they are scientists. And much more fun, especially sharing unfair sibling stories, some of which are at least perceived as wildly unfair. Justice: let’s play that forward too.

September 7, 2016 at 11:39 AM Leave a comment

PBL 101 with the Buck Institute, the Genuine Gold Standard in PBL

Report with all kinds of v. useful links to a million PBL resources.

Continue Reading June 16, 2016 at 2:07 PM 1 comment

A Whole year of 7th Grade Science – the best one yet!

A link to the whole lot – a year’s worth of successful, fun and free curriculum tested at Orinda Intermediate School.

Continue Reading June 11, 2015 at 2:12 PM Leave a comment

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

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