2019Science in the City: 2019

Nov 1, 2019

Aiming for Respect and Discipline in the Classroom

Aiming for Respect and Discipline in the Classroom

If you are struggling with classroom management and feel like it’s a struggle to have your students respect you and follow your discipline, here are a few key suggestions. 

Tips and strategies to help build respect and improve classroom management

My Background

Before I start, I want you to understand where I’m coming from. I have taught for 14 years in an urban district, with an overall free and reduced lunch rate of about 85%. Our population is mostly minority, largely African-American. I am not an expert on classroom management by any means, but as a small-stature, white female I have learned quite a bit over the last 14 years!

Relationships

First of all, respect and classroom discipline all comes back to building relationships. Relationships are the biggest key! You've probably heard it over and over again but it can't be said enough. So, how do you build relationships with your students? Be a little bit flexible. Get to know them as people. Share parts of yourself with them as you are comfortable. It doesn't have to be anything too personal. But don’t be afraid to show that you have a sense of humor and that you are a real person.

Be Flexible

Appreciate that they are people, not just students. That also might mean being flexible with how they do an assignment or giving them a little bit of a break on a particular day if you can see that they really need it. Treat an isolated day of non-compliance the way you would want to be treated if you weren’t feeling well or had an off day. However, when you see a pattern, treat it differently. But still with respect. Don’t humiliate and confront a student. Discuss it with him or her separately. Think about it, we go to work and we are not always at our best. We appreciate it when our co-workers help out, but we sometimes don't allow students the same flexibility. There may be a way to compromise with a student or to meet their needs while still getting them to do the work.

You are the Adult

Remember, you are the adult, and they are the child. I say this not to hammer home the idea of the student ‘listening to the adult’ and ‘following directions.’ Instead, I am suggesting that you can outsmart them! If you can make some small concessions and at the end of the day they are still doing work then you win! Remember the big picture, and don’t get into a confrontation with them. Keep your eye on the goal - their classwork and their learning and figure out a plan together to help them get there. If they're doing what they need to be doing in some format, then you're winning even if they didn't do it exactly the way that you had in mind.

Consistency

You can also help with discipline in the classroom by being really really consistent for a long period of time so that when students walk into your room they always know what the expectations are. They know that when you say something you will mean it. This doesn't mean being confrontational necessarily but being clear and then sticking to it. For example, if you ask students to be quiet when you're talking, and when they are talking, you may need to stop and remind them that it's your turn to talk and then wait. It will feel like you're wasting class time waiting. The waiting might be brutal. But, by establishing those norms at the beginning of the year, it will save a lot of trouble later. Similarly, if you expect students to pick up a folder or paper on the way in, and they walked by without doing it, remind them to come back and get it.

Plan for Success

Lastly, another step towards respect and discipline in the classroom is helping the students feel successful and feel like their time is not being wasted. I believe that even our struggling students want to feel that they can accomplish what they're supposed to be doing in class. Many students may get frustrated. You may be seeing what appears as disrespect or discipline problems but if, instead, students can focus their energy in a more positive way you may not see as many behavior problems in class.

Safety First

Also remember, safety first so if you are ever concerned about safety don't hesitate to have a student removed from your class.

Oct 18, 2019

Need Additional NGSS Science Resources? Start Here

Need Additional NGSS Science Resources? Start Here

If you are starting NGSS and finding it overwhelming, don’t be overwhelmed. It’s really not completely different than good science teaching practice has always been. We already teach students about thinking like a scientist, using evidence, problem-solving, and basic inquiry processes. Many of us are already using engagement activities or a discrepant event (not so different than a phenomenon). A discussion of the similarities and differences between inquiry and storylines is given here. They do differ, but there is overlap,

Yes, the curriculum and assessments might change, and your day to day teaching may change because of that, but it may not be as dramatic of a change as you may be afraid of!

As you are looking to build lessons that support NGSS, here are a few links and resources that could help: 

Need Additional NGSS Resources?  Start Here

NGSS Lessons

NGSS Lesson screener - this is a tool to check if your lesson is aligned to NGSS. A lot of your prior lessons might just need tweaking in one or two areas to fulfill the requirements. This is a very in-depth evaluation tool. They state that “a lesson is defined as a coherent set of instructional activities and assessments that may extend over several class periods or days; it is not just a single activity”

If you find that you need some additional tweaks, storylines, phenomena, or other resources to get you started, here is a shortlist of places to start:

Tweaks, storylines, & phenomena

  • NSTA NGSS Hub - a hub of resources created by NSTA, and organized by topic
  • Next Generation Science Standards - The standards themselves but searchable by grade level, topic, crosscutting concept, etc. If you are getting ready to teach a particular topic, it can be really helpful to see where it connects with other topics, or what exactly the students are required to know.
  • NGSS Phenomena - one part of NGSS that I really like, personally, is that it asks students to look at phenomena from the real world and to examine what is happening. As I mentioned, these are a lot like discrepant events or engagement activities, but they can also be used in other ways. This is a searchable database of pictures, videos and other phenomena. It also includes some pages on “How to Use Phenomena” and examples.
  • The Wonder of Science - This is a treasure trove! Of course, not all topics are present, but it is searchable by standard, and then includes examples of complete units with storylines, phenomena, etc. I would definitely start here to get your brain going!
  • Next Generation Science Storylines describes themselves as a project dedicated to providing tools that support teachers in developing, adapting, and teaching with strongly aligned NGSS materials in classrooms around the country. A storyline is basically a series of coherent lessons (coherent to students) that focuses on solving a problem. The steps should be driven by students’ questions. Again, for the topics that are covered, there are examples of complete units, with teacher handbooks and supporting materials.
  • Science Buddies NGSS Lesson Plans - Lastly, if you are looking for something a little briefer, that will let you get right into the lesson plans, this is a good place to search.
I also wrote about NGSS here. New York seems to be a bit behind, so I am not an expert, but I’m trying to share it with you as I learn. I’d love to hear from some of you who are ahead of the curve!

Oct 4, 2019

Four Unusual Subjects Your Class Could Study!

Four Unusual Subjects Your Class Could Study!

Children love to learn - that’s not a secret. They are small sponges right up until adulthood jades them a little, taking in every single tidbit of information that they are given. Those of us who were privileged enough to go to school and get a formal education all had a favorite subject at one time or another. The interesting classes that piqued our interest and got our creative and intelligent juices flowing seemed to fly by at school, whereas the other classes that we were least interested in dragged on by.

Education authorities across the globe are always doing research to ensure that they are offering the best possible educational opportunities for children. The system we have around the world isn’t the same as it was 20-30 years ago; it’s all changed now, with more on offer than ever before. Learning is supposed to be an interesting and pleasurable experience, and that means offering more interesting and fun subjects. Below, we’re going to talk about four subjects that are happening right now around the world that are a little different, but could spice up your educational offerings! These would be great additions for a filler kind of day, a class that is ahead, after a test, the day before a break, as an introduction, or just to get your brain thinking in a different way about your class. They could even be a jumping-off point for perhaps an elective, or a mini-unit.

Children love to learn - that’s not a secret. They are small sponges right up until adulthood jades them a little, taking in every single tidbit of information that they are given. Those of us who were privileged enough to go to school and get a formal education all had a favorite subject at one time or another. The interesting classes that piqued our interest and got our creative and intelligent juices flowing seemed to fly by at school, whereas the other classes that we were least interested in dragged on by.   Here are four examples of unusual subjects studied in other places that might get your creative juices flowing for your own classes.

Image Source: Pexels

Admiration for Nature - Taught In Japan

In Japan, there are always subjects that are a little different, but Admiration for Nature is a subject designed to teach young children to value the aesthetics of the world around them. Modern kids are so caught up in technology nowadays that they often fail to see the world around them, so this subject forces the screens down and eyes up for a moment to just see. Pupils still have to receive grades and take exams at the end of the year to show their knowledge and appreciation of the natural world.

Cyber Security - Taught In Israel


With a world moving to use cloud services more and more, cybersecurity is paramount. Our world is a digital one and it’s now a vital area of knowledge as the internet permeates more and more of our daily life. Cybersecurity and data security are important, and while schools everywhere are now introducing Coding and Computing to their students, cybersecurity is a big part of the lesson. Children are being taught how to move around cyberspace and how to deal with negativity online. These lessons are important for the future of our society and it’s an interesting lesson to learn!

Surfing - Taught In Australia & Hawaii

Countries that have the privilege of having some of the most beautiful beaches around the world also recognize the importance of teaching children how to respect the ocean and ocean life. Surfing just happens to be a great Physics lesson waiting to happen. You can see some examples here and here. Australians are teaching their best sport to their youngest minds, and these lessons ensure that children are burning some energy while also indulging in some much-needed fun!

Beekeeping - Taught In Bashkiria

There are more than 100 schools in Bashkiria that are running their own apiaries. The bees are integral to our world continuing, and kids are learning to tend beehives, respect the work that bees do and harvest honey!

What creative and unique topics have you taught in your classroom? How do your students react?  Feel free to comment or jump in the Facebook Group.

Students are so used to being taught curriculum out of a book or taught to a test, that its a great chance to have them spend some time on something different, and then even better if we can connect it back to science or STEM.

Sep 23, 2019

Free Character and Social Emotional Learning Lesson Plans

I know many of you help your students, and teach many other things than science.  We all know that to be successful in school, students need to have their social and emotional needs met, and be ready to learn.  As teachers, aren't we all so much more than just teachers of our content area?! Some of you teach these other life skills indirectly, or embedded in content lessons, and some of you teach topics other than science in actual homeroom/advisement course, etc. I was offered a this exclusive free resource for you for character development and social emotional learning to you, my subscribers.
Characterstrong social emotional learning plans

The CharacterStrong blog and podcast provides curricula and training for K-12 schools internationally. There will find inspiring and practical stories of educators implementing character development & social-emotional learning in their classrooms, CharacterStrong resources, case studies, and more.  It also includes many resources to help educators take care of themselves, and support the whole teacher.  There is an accompanying podcast as well. 

3 Days of Free Character Development Lesson Plans  

(NOTE: THE LINK I WAS GIVEN AS AN EXCLUSIVE READER FREEBIE IS NOT WORKING AT THE MOMENT. I HAVE CONTACTED THE COMPANY FOR AN UPDATED LINK).  

HOWEVER, AT THE WEBSITE THERE ARE STILL FREE SAMPLES AVAILABLE FOR ELEMENTARY, MIDDLE, AND HIGH SCHOOL, AVAILABLE FOR LEAVING YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. 

I WILL UPDATE THIS POST AS SOON AS I HAVE AN UPDATED LINK.

Free Social and Emotional Learnig 3 Days of Lesson Plans

How can I use these free social and emotional learning lesson plans? 

Although many of you are science teachers, we all know that sometimes social and emotional learning and needs have to come first. Students may not be ready to learn science if their social and emotional needs are not met first.

Even if we can't always do this FIRST, per se, we can use sub days, extra class days because of assemblies or field trips, or times such as advisement to work on some of these skills. 

As it is not our main content area, many of us may not feel adept at teaching these types of social and emotional skills.  These 3 days of free lesson plans are a great place to start!

Please feel free to comment below if you use these how they go, or what you use to teach social and emotional learning in your classroom.



Sep 9, 2019

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Commute Time

How Can You Best Use Your Commute Time?

I don't know how long your commute is but one of the things that I really like to use my commute time for is to listen to podcast or audio books. What podcast do I recommend? It depends upon how you want to use your time. There are several great options!

Make your commute time work for you!

Escape Reality

Sometimes I enjoy podcasts that are audiobooks or story and give you an escape. They are just fun and make you energized and uplifted. That's completely fine! Some of my favorites in this category are:

Professional Development

There are also educational podcasts if you want to get some professional development time while you are driving. Some of my favorite educational podcast are:

Personal Growth

If you're looking for podcasts that are not just teaching related, but still allow some room for growth and learning, of course, it will depend on your interests. There are podcasts on almost every topic under the sun! However, two in particular that I think might appeal to a lot of people are:

Audiobooks

Besides podcasts, other great ways to use your commute time include audiobooks (available for free through your library on the OverDrive App, Hoopla, or sometimes other options depending upon your library). You can always listen to music that will get you energized during the day or put you in a good mood.

Connection

If you have Bluetooth in your car, or a good hands-free setup, this is also a great time to catch up with family or friends and make a quick phone call for connection.

Bonus - Quiet Solitude and Recharge! 

Additionally, depending upon your personality, if you feel like you've been talking to people all day and you need a break, then absolutely use this as a time for peace and quiet! It's perfectly fine to turn the radio off. Just enjoy the time to yourself in the car so that you come home calm and ready to face your family and the rest of your day

Some of you may need some peace and quiet some of you need a chance to interact or tune in to something else. You know yourself best, but don’t waste that time! Use it to your advantage! It can help you in one way or the other throughout the day.

Aug 26, 2019

Who am I - In Terms of Science?

Science Says: Who am I?

In 2014, Nicole Kidman, Mark Strong, and Colin Firth kept the audience on the edge of their seats in the thriller Before I Go To Sleep. Every morning, the character played by Kidman experiences a fresh start. She wakes up, not knowing where she is or who she is with. Her husband explains that she has suffered extreme brain damage in an accident several years earlier that left her unable to process any memory from the past twenty years of her life. For the rest of the day, the wife records her thoughts on a camera, which she consults in the morning with the help of her neuropsychologist. The thriller then evolves and unravels the mysterious accident that has led her to sustain a life-changing injury.


If we ignore the thriller element for a moment, the story of Nicole Kidman’s character is fascinating. Every morning, she can get to explore who she is. How many of us have been given such an opportunity to indulge in self-exploration? The truth is that not many people would be able to tell you who they are as clearly as the movie – which is also a book – projects. Answering the question of who you are can be tricky. The quest for an answer is enough to throw anybody into a profound identity crisis. Except if you rely on science. Science, as it happens, can reveal a lot about yourself. Here’s how it works:

I am the person who can

More and more proud adults are showing off their STEM roots. Science, technology, engineering and math programs have become a priority all around the country as too few students are choosing to pursue degrees in these fields. As a result, teachers are constantly looking for ways to attract new students. Thankfully, public opinion has gradually warmed up to the idea of STEM. Many suggest that TV shows such as the Big Bang Theory or Sherlock have helped many young people to make peace with science. STEM role models have also become more vocal, giving the science community a strong and engaging voice. In conclusion, young girls and boys get to meet a variety of mentors and industry leaders who come from a scientific background. The message is the same everywhere; the STEM community is stronger together. For many, embracing STEM studies turn you into a do-er. You become the person who can send rockets to the moon, or who can find a new dinosaur species. You are the name the story will remember because you’re the one who made it happen.

I am the descendant of someone great

Everybody loves looking through old family albums. Here’s a picture of grandma. Here’s your great-great-uncle you’ve never met. It’s always exciting to look through the black and white faces from the past and trying to find similarities. Do you have that person’s nose or this one’s eyes? Finding out who you are is always about knowing where you come from. Not everyone is keen on building their genealogical tree by themselves – it’s hard work, and it’s not always rewarding research. However, some specialists can take the pain out of thorough genealogy research for you. Finding relatives to an individual who has passed away is sometimes the only way for solicitors to discover unexpected beneficiaries. A genetic test could let you learn more about your family, and therefore about yourself too.



Pexels - CC0 License

My genes dictate what I can eat

While we’re in the field of genetics, it’s a good idea to learn the lessons that DNA can teach about your body and needs. There are currently plenty of tests available that can let you know more about your dietary requirements based on your DNA patterns. The science is exact, however, if you want reliable results you should probably wait until the off-the-counter tests become more performant. Nevertheless, the human genome can reveal a lot about your health. You are maybe a lactose-intolerant person who didn’t know about their condition. Or your tendency to overeat could be marked by your genes. Knowing more about your DNA helps you to become the best you can be.

Maths guides me through my identity crisis

Philosophers argue that the best way to address an identity crisis is to support your reasoning with maths. Indeed, a philosophical quest can’t rely on intuition. Instead, mathematics becomes the ultimately philosophical language that navigates through logic to the most appropriate answer. To pursue a rational debate or self-introspection, you need to be able to engage ideas logically and rigorously until you can confirm or reject your assumptions. In other words, brilliant philosophers are mathematicians.



Pexels - CC0 License

Am I the result of a complex human genome that defines how my body reacts? Am I the person who discovers a new dinosaur? Or am I the person whose distant cousin made a fortune? I could be all of these, and only philosophy can guide me to the truth. Science answers the darkest identity crisis for you.

Students see science as so abstract, and distant from their lives, but this is a different way to take a look at the role science plays in defining who we are, and really grabbing kids attentions. Who am I? could be a great ongoing theme throughout the year! 




Aug 12, 2019

What other inspirational teens do you know? Share and get a free resource

As you know, I have been really digging into the idea of a growth mindset and creating readings and reflection questions for students on a growth mindset, and a series of young innovators.

I have written the following set of blog posts, related to this topic:
Upstanders and Innovators Complete Set (Growing)
I have a long (and growing) list of inspirational and upstanding young people. However, I am also always looking for new inspiration.

Ideally, the people featured in this series would be a minority/low income/diverse backgrounds and overcome some type of difficulty to pursue a dream or create a science or STEM resource or invention.

My vision is that students be able to see themselves in these stories of students, and both better view themselves as scientists and be able to see the growth mindset characteristics in action and see their importance.


As of this writing, there are articles, written on two different reading levels, complete with questions for each of the following:

  • Trisha Prabhu
  • Boyan Slat
  • Kai Kloepfer
  • Deepika Kurup
  • William Kamkwamba
  • Shubham Banerjee
  • Jack Andraka
Share your inspirational teens and win a free teaching resource

You may see different news stories than I do, and I would love your help.  If you know an inspirational teen, I may not know them.  Please, take a minute and fill out this form!   Give me your suggestions, and if I use your suggestion, you will get a free copy of the resource that I create based on the teen you suggest!






Jul 29, 2019

How Can We Attract Students To STEM?

How Can We Attract Students To STEM?

Note: This is a guest post for Science in the City.  Author Bio is listed at the bottom

Today’s generation of teachers know the value and importance of STEM education, as society continues to need people with skills in science, technology, engineering and math. Many teachers are acting as mentors for their student’s specific interests – educating them on STEM-related role models in current times and throughout history.

However, establishing role models in the STEM world is beneficial, but not always enough. One female-graduate STEM student commented that Jane Goodall had always been her role model, but she never met Goodall. The student says that in her opinion, real-life mentors are more important than role models.

Articles on how-to-teach-STEM appear almost daily in journals designed to help teachers reach students who express little or no interest in those subjects. To meet this challenge, educators are becoming aware that it takes more than reading chapters in a book or filling in blanks on worksheets. So how can teachers – with the help of those outside of the classroom - encourage the next generation to consider pursuing a STEM-related education and career?

A graphic showing the components of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)

Stimulate and Encourage Curiosity

Students of all ages must be encouraged to ask “why” questions. Give students the opportunity to taste, smell, touch and watch. Provide them with items to play with and analyze. As one teacher stated, “We must simply give them the resources that feed their curiosity. Growing fruits and vegetables in a garden, building forts, and playing with blocks can all be uniquely valuable.”

Toddlers who play with blocks and build forts increase their spatial abilities. Hands-on learning opportunities, such as puzzles or cooking in the kitchen, can drive a young person’s life-long interest in a subject.

Provide Real-Life Exploration Activities

Most adults recall their elementary school science project of creating an erupting volcano out of ordinary household items. The thrill of experiencing the result of a hands-on project stays with them for a lifetime.

A few years ago, the Massachusetts state education department implemented a “Got Math” program as an experiment for elementary and middle school students using real-life situations to learn the importance of developing their math skills. For example:
  • Students met with local businesses that taught them how to shop with coupons to reduce the cost of their purchases.
  • Students visited with architects who taught them how to use measurement and problem-solving techniques to design and build a foam model house to scale.
Other examples of real-life exploration activities include:
  • Young students experiment with objects to learn why some float and some sink.
  • Older students may watch crime-solving television programs and learn how the use of science techniques help solve crimes.
There is really no limit to how students can learn through experimentation.

Role Models, Industry Leaders and Mentors

Exposing students to role models and industry leaders is a good thing. They learn about the success of anthropologist Jane Goodall, engineer and entrepreneur Elon Musk, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Bill Gates of Microsoft fame, astronauts and NASA scientists, and other famous people. Students can see how they can similarly use STEM education in their lives.

Active mentors who guide students, and who can see the world the way their students see it, are priceless. Mentors are known for igniting their students’ life-long passion for succeeding in their chosen STEM field.

Introduce Students to STEM Jobs

STEM jobs pay well. According to one report, in 2018, the median earnings in the country for all non-stem jobs was $19.30 per hour. For STEM jobs, the pay averaged $38.85 an hour. As STEM talent becomes harder to find, the pay will only increase. Plus, it is expected that there will be more STEM-related jobs every year. As of 2019, there were approximately 2.4 million vacant STEM jobs in the country. Showing students these jobs can provide a financially bright future may entice them to pursue a career in that direction.

What are some examples of STEM careers? Below are a few examples you can provide to students:
  • Creation and improvement of cellphones, computers, tablets and videogames
  • Cybersecurity
  • Anything to do with artificial intelligence
  • Manufacturer
  • Engineer
  • Geologist
  • Paleontologist
  • Volcanologist
  • Archeologist
  • Anthropologist
And as STEM- related fields keep expanding due to innovation there will be jobs available in areas not yet even known.

Educators who capitalize on the innate curiosity of children — and who give them the hands-on experiences they need to encourage exploration and inquisitiveness — can find a classroom full of motivated learners. The long-term results may be college students pursuing their dream of finding a well-paying STEM career. Society, in general, will also likely progress as STEM education will help lead it in that direction.
A graphic showing an adult working with students on an engineering project

Author bio:

Chris Hobbs has more than 25 years of manufacturing experience in various hands-on and managerial roles such as machine builder, reliability engineer, maintenance technician, maintenance management, consulting, and more. Chris is currently the Technical Training Program Manager at Advanced Technology Services where he oversees the SkillPoint™ program comprised of electronic and mechanical courses to improve technicians’ skillsets and meet the needs of modern manufacturing.

Jul 15, 2019

How and Where to Connect with Science in the City

I love to connect with fellow teachers and learn from each other.  Here's how

I love to connect with fellow teachers. We all learn from each other, and become stronger by communicating and sharing.

Some people prefer to connect in different ways. I am in a lot of places around the internet, and I’d love to connect wherever you are.
  • Email: Feel free to shoot me an email. I am usually pretty quick to response to email, and I love getting responses or questions from you. This is probably the most individualized way to communicate.
  • Mailing list: I send out free resources, updates, sale announcements, and subscriber only exclusives.
  • Blog articles approximately every 2 weeks on various science and teaching topics (as well as the occasional guest post or giveaway exclusive for readers).
  • Facebook Page: My Facebook page is not super active, but you will see upcoming news, newsletters, occasionally new resources, some humor.
  • Facebook Group: The best place to connect with me as well as other science teachers from around the world. There are 2500 members, science teachers from around the world. We share resources, and ask and answer questions.
  • Pinterest: I have many active boards of my own, and well as collaborative boards with other science teachers that cover many commonly taught science topics, as well as technology, differentiation, literacy, and more.
  • Instagram: I am not super active on IG, but I do occasionally participate in giveaways, and post pics of things going on in class, or new blog posts.
  • Twitter: Again, I’m not super active on Twitter, but if you prefer twitter new articles are posted there, and sometimes other updates.
Hope to talk to you soon!! 

Jul 1, 2019

Young upstanders and innovators: Check 'em out!

Young upstanders and innovators: Check 'em out!

Throughout the last several posts here, here, and here I have discussed the importance of students viewing themselves as scientists, having role models and examples of scientists who come from diverse backgrounds, and explicitly teaching and reinforcing the mindset and characteristics of successful scientists. 

How to do it? 

The question is how to do this?! This all sounds great on paper, but not so easy to implement in the classroom.

I struggled with this myself, as well as ways to increase engagement, and work on reading comprehension.

It was for all of these reasons, and out of this need that I began to create a series of reading comprehension articles on young people who fit all of these characteristics.

It is so important for students to have a mindset about how to be a scientist, having role models and examples of scientist stories who come from diverse backgrounds, and to teaching and reinforcing the growth mindset and characteristics of successful scientists.  It was for all of these reasons, I created a series of science reading passages and lessons about these teens who are changing the world to be used in your high school science classroom.

What's Included?

  • This reading set includes a two page article on each person listed and their work, as well as reading comprehension and reflection questions.
  • This is part of a series or articles on students who are innovators and upstanders, and have made a difference in their world.
  • Each article is provided at two reading levels (approximately 10th grade and approximately 7th grade). Also included are two differentiated sets of response questions, as well as an answer key.
  • These articles can be used as sub plans, as a way to integrate growth mindset and literacy into class on a regular basis, as a station, as a means of engaging students in science and helping them to see themselves as scientists.
  • This set will continue to grow and include at least 10+ articles. The price will increase as more are added. By purchasing you will receive all future articles as well.
This addresses some of the concerns listed in the past 3 posts - students seeing themselves as scientists, qualities that make for successful scientists. See the mindset and characteristics of successful scientists, and give them positive role models.

What are people saying about them?








Jun 17, 2019

Mindset and Characteristics of Successful People: Teaching It!

Mindset and Characteristics of Successful People: Teaching It!

What characteristics make a successful scientist? 

Many students believe that these characteristics are innate characteristics that someone either has or doesn’t have. This could not be further from the truth. In reality, characteristics of scientists, and characteristics of successful people in general, can be learned. Mindset can change and develop! 

Mindset and Characteristics of Successful People: Teaching It!

Dataquest defines traits as “a mental habit with broad applications” and defines the five essential traits as curiosity, clarity, creativity, skepticism, and humility. In this article the author outlines steps to take to develop each of these traits. Again, these can be learned.

Human Nature Concepts also writes about the 10 Characteristics of scientists, and identifies them as follows: curiosity, open-minded, keen observer, resourceful, purposeful, good communicator, persistent, creative, critical thinker, and courageous.

Michigan State University also answers the question of “What Makes a Good Scientist?” with a very similar list: curious, patient, courageous, detail-oriented, creative, persistent, communicative, open-minded, and critical thinker/problem solver.

Lastly, the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative has several different interviews on the topic of “What Makes a Good Scientist?”

All of these have many qualities in common, as you may have noticed. Are these qualities that you see in your students? If not, how can we teach/emphasize these qualities to students?

How do we teach these skills?

We can (and probably do) teach many of this skills as part of science. I know we try to teach observation, skepticism, and problem solving (certainly part of the new science standards). I’m sure we teach lessons that work on creativity and resourcefulness (perhaps integrated with engineering design, or creating a presentation. But how to we encourage these throughout the year, and really get students to think of themselves as having these skills? Although these lessons are great, and they introduce these skills, students need to see them on a regular basis, and see them applied. Otherwise it’s far too easy for these to be removed from real life, and become another abstract classroom lesson

We need to practice, demonstrate, and reinforce these skills on a regular basis to change students’ mindset, and self-image.

As science teachers, it is likely that we practice those that are more traditional science skills throughout the year, such as observation, and communication, but what about things like persistence, courage, and curiosity. These can be encouraged in the classroom through both the frequent use of examples and role models, affirmations, and a change in classroom culture.

These characteristics are very similar to the idea of growth mindset. Here is a great article on 6 Tips to Help Students Develop a Growth Mindset. Interestingly, one of their strategies is to Read books with characters who face challenges and develop strategies to overcome them, in other words, to utilize role models, similar to those discussed in my last post.

It is also a great idea to change the language in the classroom, to model it yourself, and to utilize affirmations and inspirational bulletin boards. Here is a huge list of free printables that you could certainly use in your classroom.

It is equally important to tie these to real-life examples, however, such as other people who have demonstrated these skills. Some examples can be seen in this Growing Bundle.

I’d love to hear your ideas for particular lessons or things that you do in class that help students practice and reinforce the mindest and traits of scientists. Do you have an particular lessons that are great ways to teach these skills? If so, feel free to comment below, or jump in our Facebook Group and share!

Jun 3, 2019

Be Inspired by Successful Teen Role Models

Be Inspired by Successful Teen Role Models

For students whose parents are engineers, scientists, or who have friends or family friends in these roles, it is easier to picture themselves in that role. When students have good role models of scientists, problems solvers, and engineers as a part of their daily life, they see that as a path they can follow to do the same. When most people you know have gone to college, you also assume that you will go on to college.

Be Inspired by Successful Teen Role Models

But what about those students who don’t have those role models in their everyday lives?

Many of our students are from a poorer demographic, don’t have friends and family who are very educated, don’t speak the dominant language etcetera, and may have a more difficult seeing themselves in this role. As they grow up they may not even think that being an engineers, scientists, or other type of educated professional, having a patent, or being a ‘leader’ in this sense is an option or a possibility for them.

How do we fix this problem?

As teachers, I believe that part of our role in education is to show students examples of people similar to them who have been successful as engineers and scientists, even through non-traditional paths. Several scientific inventions have been made through hard work on a different path, or even through an accidental discovery that led to a greater invention.

Sometimes this can be through being that role model, as outlined in this article. It also helps build connections. The author states that “Students can sense that I understand their experiences, that I’m rooting for them, and that success in whatever field they choose is within their grasp.” There are several articles, such as this one, and this one that emphasize this idea of students benefiting from having teachers whose background is more similar to their own.

What if we are not from a minority group?

If this is not our personal story, however, we can help present students with success stories, even if they are not our personal story. I don’t believe it is only minority teachers who can help bring this benefit to a classroom of minority students. It has been shown that “Good Teachers Embrace Their Students’ Cultural Background.” In fact, in a study of high achieving urban environments, some of the deciding factors were the “development of a belief in self, supportive adults, interaction with a network of high-achieving peers, extracurricular activities, challenging classes such as honors classes, personal characteristics such as motivation and resilience, and family support” as cited in this article. As teachers, we can help support these skills and qualities. When we bring examples of pictures of scientists into class, it is critically important that they look like our students. This idea is further explored in this article, the authors state that reading acts as both a window and a mirror…. “mirrors in that they can reflect on children’s own lives, and windows in that they can give children a chance to learn about someone else’s life.” Additionally, “while it may be ideal for children to actually meet people from different backgrounds [or from a similar background, but with a different ending] in person, if that isn’t possible, books can serve as a first introduction to an outside world.” The article does a great job of explaining the importance of introducing students to these examples. This is the idea behind the book Wonder Woman, by Sam Maggs, explored in this article “Why it’s so important for girls to find role models in female scientists.

This is all a part of being a teacher too. We need to help students see that science is more than the type of science in the textbook for which they are graded and tested, and that it is something accessible to them. We can do this by showing them examples. As you bring in famous scientists to talk about in class, new articles to use, or other examples in class, make an effort to showcase people of various backgrounds. It adds value to both the students, and to the class as a whole!  Some great examples are William Kamkwamba, Deepika Kurup, and Trisha Prabu, but there are many more out there! Utilize them in your class with your students!  See how they react!

May 20, 2019

Can I Really Be a Scientist?


You may think of your students as ‘scientists’ and you may even refer to them as scientists.  But what do they think a scientist is?  Do they consider themselves scientists? 

Reflection on How Students View Scientists; and Themselves

Draw a Scientist

Many of you may have done or seen the ‘draw a scientist’ activity.  If you haven’t heard of it, it is an activity where students draw their idea of "a scientist doing science." The exercise surfaces students' prior understandings of the nature of science and the demographics of scientists.

Unfortunately, the results show that many students don't see themselves as scientists. According to an article written in 2018, students are still primarily drawing white males as scientists. Over the past 50 years the number of female scientists being drawn has greatly increased, but is still only 28%.   The authors of this article stated that “stereotypes of scientists not only shape ….perceptions of who is a scientist, but also influence their perception of who can be a scientist.”  The researchers also mentioned that these stereotypes go beyond gender, 79% of the scientists drawn were white.

This is a problem.  This is a especially a problem for minorities, females, foreign students, etc.

When we are teaching students who don’t match this image (who are female, darker skin colored, etc) it is even harder for them to see themselves as scientists.

Why is this important?  

This puts students one step farther away from what we are trying to teach them.  This is yet another way that they feel disconnected from school, and feel that it doesn’t apply to them.
We are teaching students science, and we want them to see themselves as part of science, and the scientific process.  However, many students don’t see science as relevant to their own lives. They science as only a subject in school that they need to pass, but they are, in fact, not part of it.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Science should be relevant to students’ lives. Science involves problem solving from everyday life, their own bodies, and the world around them.  However, this is not always what students see.

As educators, part of our role ideally is to help bring students to a place where students can see the connections to their own lives.

Your Challenge

I challenge you to try the “Draw A Scientist” lesson with your own students. It can be a quick activity that takes 10 minutes at the end of class, or a full blown lesson.  I’d love if you’d report back with the results. Are your students drawing white male scientists? Are they drawing scientists that look like them?  It would be really cool to have some discussion or reflection to go along with this.  Lastly, what if you showed some other examples of minority or female scientists and then had them draw?  Would you get different results?

If I taught elementary I would absolutely read them this book first and see if it changed my results.  Maybe I would read it to high school too?

Try it out!

May 6, 2019

Five Evidence-Based Study Strategies Your Students Should Be Using

Five Evidence-Based Study Strategies Your Students Should Be Using

Spring and early summer brings tests and exams for many students and teachers. If you’ve managed to cajole your kids into putting in some time outside of lessons, congratulations!

The bad news, though, is that left to their own devices, most students will be using ineffective study methods, meaning they will fall short of the marks and grades they could otherwise have hit.

The good news is that there are some simple evidence-based strategies that can transform how effectively your students study, and the grades they are therefore able to achieve. Read on to find out how.
Five Evidence-Based Study Strategies Your Students Should Be Using

  1. Retrieval practice: memory training

After almost a century of research, the results are in: there is now broad consensus among learning science researchers that the best study techniques are based on “retrieval practice” (see here or here for reviews). Most students study by pushing information into their brains – re-reading, highlighting, summarising, making notes – retrieval practice flips that on its head, and says they should be spending as much time as possible trying to pull information out of memory, trying to remember it.

There are plenty of options for using retrieval practice to study for tests:
  • Training with flashcards
  • Answering “quiz” questions
  • Writing down all you can remember about a topic on a blank sheet
  • Having a friend / family member test you
The key is to move on from the “pushing information in” stage sooner than feels comfortable, and spend as much time as possible studying by trying to remember what you know. It feels like harder work, but it’s far more effective.

Formative assessment is also a great discipline to use in your classroom as starter or exit activities: Science In The City has plenty of assessment resources available to life a bit easier.

      2. Spaced learning: conquer “forgetting”

Over time, we all forget what we once knew – even if we used retrieval practice to learn it! Spaced learning is the solution: for every new occasion on which your students revisit a fact or concept, their memory of it gets stronger and more permanent.

Try and get your students in a “little and often” habit: rather than cramming all the day before a test, far better to spread that same amount of study time out (or even do slightly less!) over a longer time, e.g. 10 minutes a day for a couple of weeks, rather than two hours the night before.

They will not only perform better on that test, but their knowledge will be much more secure, helping them build on it in future, rather than having to start seemingly from scratch in each new school year.

     3. Chunking: data compression for memory

“Chunking” is the act of grouping a larger number of units of information – letters, words, phrases, numbers – together in meaningful ways to create a smaller number of units, making the information easier to remember. It’s your brain’s version of data compression algorithms that make files smaller for storage in computer memory.

Here’s an example of chunking in action: 18 random letters are very hard to remember, but re-order and add some grouping, and it becomes much easier.

An example of chunking content to remember it more quickly and easily

You probably remember your own phone number by “chunking” the digits into groups. When someone else groups the digits differently, it can be hard to recognise even your own number!

Chunking is at the root of a many mnemonic techniques, such as:

Acronyms: making a new word from the first letters of the words you’re trying to remember, e.g. “HOMES” for the five Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior)

Acrostics: making a memorable phrase from the first letters of words you’re trying to remember, e.g. “My Very Excellent Mother Just Made Us Nine Pizzas” for planets

Chunking numbers with patterns: look for arithmetic relationships to make digits more memorable. Thulium was discovered in 1879: you can derive the “7” and “9” by subtracting and adding the “1” to the “8”, respectively.

You could spend a moment in lessons working with your students to come up with a novel chunking strategy, which not only helps them learn the content, but trains them in how to use chunking for themselves. See here for an in-depth guide to using a number of useful chunking strategies, with more inspiration on how to apply the technique to a range of information types.

     4. Dual coding: we are all visual learners

Have you heard of “learning styles” – visual, auditory, kinaesthetic? You may also have heard that there is very little scientific evidence that teaching in each individual’s preferred style helps them learn.

However, it seems while we all have our preferences, we all have a bit of every “learning style” in us, and that appealing to multiple styles at once can help us to learn.
The idea of dual coding is that by taking in information as both words AND a diagram / picture, you’re more likely to remember it – perhaps because you’ve got two different ways to remember that information when you get into the test.

If your students are making summaries ahead of an upcoming test, they might like to use a picture AND a description in words for key concepts, to help solidify their understanding and memory.

     5. How to read (no, really…)

OK, so this is more about test-taking than studying: but how many times have you seen students throw away marks by not reading the question accurately?

When we read, our eyes move in jumps called “saccades”, with a focus point every few words. The brain fills in the words in peripheral vision based on word shape and context. That makes it very easy to miss things, especially under the pressure of a test!

Example of how to read most effectively for studying. Can you spot the error?

If you know what you’re looking for, it’s painfully obvious, but if you don’t, a lot of people won’t spot the two “As” before “single step”.

In one example where students were taking test questions, researchers found that emphasising a key command word in a question by switching to a bold typeface increased the proportion of correct answers from 8% to 31%. That’s huge!

You may not be able to change the test papers, but there’s a simple solution: train your students in the disciple of reading questions slowly, deliberately and methodically, using their pen to underline key words in the question to add emphasis for themselves – to make sure they pick up every mark they deserve.

Wishing you and your students every success in any upcoming tests and exams!

Guest Post Exclusive: Five Evidence-Based Study Strategies Your Students Should Be Using
****
This is a guest post for Science In The City by William Wadsworth, a Cambridge-trained psychologist and full-time study skills researcher, writer, coach and author. He hosts the weekly Exam Study Expert podcast and blogs at www.ExamStudyExpert.com, both packed with tips to help students score the best possible grades, by unleashing the new science of truly effective independent study techniques.

Mar 30, 2019

Unparallelled Self-Care On Your Spring Break




As spring break approaches, what are your goals?





Are you planning to go on vacation?
Spend it on the couch?
Catch up on work around the house?
Catch up on schoolwork?

I would argue that spring break should be a time to focus on your goals, and on taking care of you. By self-care I don’t massages and pedicures, I mean work on some ways to take better care of yourself, and make yourself feel better! You can do it, but it takes work! Use your time to do the work, and come out of spring break feeling much better!

Self-Care is Not an Indulgence, it's a Discipline
Self-Care for Teachers
Teacher Self-Care

What I do mean is take care of yourself. Do things that will make you healthier, stronger, calmer and feel better!

  • How to do that??
  • Move your body - walk? Dance? Exercise? Try to establish a pattern that you can keep up, even if it's only ten minutes a day of yoga. Look on YouTube for some short simple videos to follow if that would help. Go for a walk! Even if it’s cold, bundle up! If you are looking for accountability or encouragement, join some fitness groups on Facebook. There are many! Ask me for suggestions if you are stuck. I’m in a couple. 
  • Eat good food - healthy is even better! Try a new vegetable and find a different way to cook it! 
  • Do things that bring you joy - read a good book? Do an art or craft project? Go for a hike? What lights you up? Find time for that. 
  • Do something that makes you laugh. We all need more laughter in our days! 

Come up with plans to continue this trend once school begins.

This comes with a change in mindset. It means prioritizing yourself and taking control of your day. If that’s where you are struggling, let me share a few of my favorites:






Chalk Full of Life Podcast

And many more.  If none of those fit for you, let me know and I can recommend others.

Mar 16, 2019

How to Immediately Implement Dynamic Learning? #shakeuplearning

To Implement Dynamic Learning it is important to keep the characteristics in mind.




Here are a few examples, and many more example lessons are available on https://shakeuplearningbook.com/ and the free quick start guide available here https://shakeuplearning.com/blog/shake-learning-free-quickstart-guide/

Characteristic 

Beyond the bell
Beyond the grade level and subject

Strategies 
Students help set learning goals
Vision board
Tracking goals 
Design thinking process
Genius Hour
Maker project

In my mind, this is similar to Backwards Design or planning with the end in mind. Think about the learning objectives, the characteristics, and the 4 C’s mentioned earlier (and discussed here).

Start small, and reflect. Make gradual changes! Small steps add up, and we can think about ways to take our learning objectives and include more Creativity, Collaboration, Communication, or Critical Thinking, or to take learning Beyond the traditional boundaries.

There are some fantastic examples here of how to do this with the G Suite.

Here is another excellent resource that helps to pull these pieces together.

Mar 2, 2019

What is Superior about Dynamic Learning? #shakeuplearning

What is Superior about Dynamic Learning? #shakeuplearning 

Shake up learning calls for learning activities that go beyond one and done activities. Learning can (and perhaps should) break the boundaries of the school day, due dates, and the prescribed curriculum.

Shake up learning calls for learning activities that go beyond one and done activities.   Learning can (and perhaps should) break the boundaries of the school day, due dates, and the prescribed curriculum.


This new style of learning and teaching involves the following:

Risk-taking

It is important to model risk-taking and teach students to face their fears.
  • FAIL = first attempt in learning
  • This can be taught through modeling, explicit teaching, and asking questions that don’t have just one right answer.
  • This can also be reinforced through teaching about famous failures, and those who have overcome a difficulty. 

Breaking barriers and bad habits

  • Real learning can happen anywhere, anytime, and is driven by interests and curiosity
  • Real learning is not one size fits all
  • Grades should represent understanding and learning, not compliance

Always learning

  • Learning can happen at a variety of times and places, not only in a traditional lesson in the classroom. 
  • This involves teaching students how to find answers on their own
  • How to curate resources
  • How to search effectively
  • Troubleshooting. When students have difficulty finding something, or you have difficulty with a resource, use this as a teachable moment! 
  • Learning can be a la carte and publicly available - Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook groups, etc

Sharing your voice/connect

  • Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and your work, as well as your students’ work. This doesn’t mean that you are claiming to be an expert but is a reflection of your learning and your talents.
  • Share through Social media, Twitter, blogs and develop a personal learning network

Unleashing creative thinking

  • Do not give a formula for an activity
  • Use activities that are more open ended
  • Authentic learning experiences, out of the box projects that don’t have just one correct answer

Going global - share student work with an authentic audience

  • Publish work rather than turn in or build online portfolios
  • Use hashtags to find the audience
  • Google hangouts and skype

Empowering students

  • Learning experiences that are more personalized
  • Choices - choose devices/tools/topics/readings/goals, etc… use menus?
  • Encourage curiosity
“Ask students what problems they want to solve, rather than what they want to be when they grow up!”

Dynamic Learning is characterized by constant change. It grows and evolves along with the learner collaborating, creating, and communicating to demonstrate progress. It extends beyond the traditional boundaries.

For more information, check out this podcast and this infographic, as well as the website Shake Up Learning.
 

Feb 16, 2019

Why is it so important to Focus on Dynamic Learning? #shakeuplearning


Why is it so important to change the way that we teach?

I have been lucky enough to be part of a professional development book circle on the book Shake Up Learning! By Kasey Bell.  I want to share with you some of my biggest takeaways, in a series of 3 posts. 
Shake Up Learning

The book is available here.  Kasey also offers many additional resources on her website https://shakeuplearning.com/, the webpage companion to the book https://shakeuplearningbook.com/ and her Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/shakeuplearning/ (as well as other social media).  These are fantastic resources, that I absolutely recommend that you check out on your own.  I am just glossing over the highlights, and her resources are fantastic!

However, as I am processing all that I have learned in this PD, I wanted to share it with you.  

Why is it time to Shake Up Learning??

At this time, in the 21st century, we are at a tipping point, or a change point in education and in learning.  So many resources and so much information is at our fingertips all the time! 

This change doesn’t start with technology but starts with the way people and students learn.  Technology can be a tool to help reach these goals.  

Think back on the history of education. (What is the Purpose of Education?) The purpose of education, originally, was a factory model. It was designed to create a labor force and to create students who are prepared to go into the workforce.

Our needs and the goals of education have changed. The needs of the workforce have changed. We no longer just need compliant laborers, we need problem-solvers and workers who can think creatively, and work more independently.

The educational system is broken and ready for a change.  Many of us know this. It’s time to Shake Up Learning.

Technology has changed the way we learn


In this day and age, anything we want to learn is at our fingertips.  We can quickly and easily connect with people across the world. We can instantly record video and show it live to anyone in the world. 

We can listen to podcasts, read blogs, look up journal articles instantly, etc.

Think about when and how you have recently learned something. How did you do it?  Did you pick up up a book?  Go to a library?  Or did you search online?  Connect with people in a group or discussion board? Was social media part of your learning process?

The Rise of the Entrepreneur


People are no longer working at just one job for their careers and being provided with benefits and security.  It is much more common for people to change jobs, etc. than it was in the past.  What worked previously isn’t working today.  Rather than the skills that were needed in the past, students need different skills now, such as curiosity, problem-solving, perseverance, risk-taking, ownership of learning, becoming resilient, creativity, dig in, develop grit. 

We need to find ways to teach these skills in our classes.  We need to have students producing their own work and practicing these skills. 

The Role of Technology


Technology is not a solution, but it is a tool.   It depends on what students do with the apps and technology.    Technology can be used in many ways to practice these skills and to engage students.  Students can (and should be) creating original product types, having the choice, etc.  They are going to be online and using the technology. We need to teach them to use it productively and improve their skills.   Ideally, when planning and working with technology, the Shake Up Learning text says that we should incorporate the Four C’s - critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.  Students are going to be online and using the technology.  Part of our job is to teach them to use it effectively and educationally. (more information on that thought process here).

Feb 2, 2019

Kinetic and Potential Energy Interactive Guide

Kinetic and Potential Energy Interactive Guide



I wanted to share a web resource with you that recently was brought to my attention. It is a really unique guide to potential and kinetic energy that includes interactive activities, examples, and plenty of sources for more information.

This would be a great resource to use to do a Webquest or other lesson with your students.   

This guide invites readers to learn more about all forms of kinetic and potential energy by using interactive graphics.  As you transition through the resource, each form of energy is broken down and explained in further detail.   The main content covered is outlined below: 

Potential energy is broken down into four types:

·        Chemical potential energy is present in every animate and inanimate object. Chemicals in a battery can be converted into motion, giving them chemical potential energy. 
·        Elastic potential energy is found when an object is in a deformed state but can be returned to a static state. This object is said to have elastic potential energy when it is either stretched or compressed. 
·        Nuclear potential energy is comprised of the force binding protons and neutrons because it causes the atom to weigh less than the sum of its parts. 
·        Gravitational potential energy is the ability for an object to do work in relation to a gravitational field. 

Kinetic energy can be broken down into four types as well:

·        Mechanical kinetic energy is observed when an object is in motion.
·        Electrical kinetic energy is seen when the electrical current carries the charge from a battery to the light bulb. 
·        In thermal kinetic energy, an object’s temperature can be transferred by convection, conduction, and radiation. 
·        In magnetic kinetic energy, magnetic fields are the effect of electric currents and the strength of attraction or repulsion on an object. 

Kinetic and potential energy also can work in harmony. All forms of kinetic energy are derived from a previous state of potential energy. An example is the chemical potential energy from a battery that is converted to electrical kinetic energy and transported to the bulb to produce light, which radiates thermal kinetic energy.




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