Science in the City

Apr 28, 2013

What Have You Heard About Early College High Schools?

Ok, I just set a goal regarding blog posts, made it public, and failed.  That's very unlikely me, but true....between state testing, catching the flu, and just generally being overwhelmed it didn't happen.  I am revising my goal to 2-3 blog posts per week.  They will cover the topics I mentioned before, but may not always be on those days.

Have you heard of Early College High School?  One opened in my area a few years ago (3, I believe).

I had heard a few good things about it, and a few good news stories, but not a lot.

I applied for transfer this year and was lucky enough to be offered a position there for next year.  I am currently teaching middle school in (based on test scores, for whatever that's worth), one of the worst schools in the state. I have learned a lot, but would like to go back to high school and go somewhere with a little more support/positivism/motivation, etc.  In the interview and job search process, I learned more about these Early College High Schools.  Its a very intriguing concept, I think.  I would like to share some of what I learned with you, and see what you think.

Here is a link to a news article about Early College High Schools

And here is a link to a website about Early College High Schools in general.

Early College High Schools focus on taking students from urban districts, disadvantaged students, and not always high achieving and putting them on a path to college.  Students at these schools may not be high achieving, but they choose to be there, and have higher aspirations.  Students are put on track to take college classes before they graduate from high school, so they graduate high school with college credits.  They are challenged in a more stable/secure environment, and allow students to enter college more prepared for success.  They build local partnerships with colleges, do a lot of college visits, and get kids onto college campuses from a young age.

I am very excited to be at a place where kids choose to be there, and where they are held to high expectations.

Some people say that Early College high schools are not all that they are cracked up to be....that you are not giving kids enough foundation, and taking struggling students and putting them up to higher expectations that they are not ready for.

Maybe its a different measure of success (  If so, that's still better than many of our local schools are doing.

Do you have any experience with early college high schools?  What do you think of the concept?

Apr 12, 2013

Have Your Promising Scientists Designed Their Own Research?

The weather is finally turning nicer, at least here. I'm not sure if its here to stay, but in my own house I have tomato seedlings and broccoli seedlings sprouting. Outside I planted some spinach (protected) and the bulbs are coming up. I love this time of year!

It also reminded me of a really cool lab that I did last year with my 7th graders that would be very easily adapted to many different age and grade levels, and was a great way to start the year. It easily built in many lab skills such as measuring, designing an experiment, observations, organizing data, and even graphing. It's really up to you where you go with it.

We first read a story to do with plants, and seeds, and brainstormed all the things plants need to survive. We then thought about how we could make the plants grow better or differently. Each student (or pair of students), had to decide on one thing that they were testing (spacing, amt of water, type of soil, type of container, etc). We wrote our procedure, planted the seeds, and took observations. We graphed our data. It's basic, but incorporates so many science skills that kids are using naturally. It gives a place to connect them to.

One of my favorites was this. She was testing the amount of sunlight. She put one cup of seeds in the window, and one in a closet.

This could easily lead into its own whole lesson!

Although this was a lesson that I did to start the year off, it would also be a great summarizing, end of the year, springtime lesson. Maybe the seeds could even be planted outside somewhere, especially depending upon your climate and when your school year goes. It's a very engaging lesson to kids, and easy to incorporate skills, or direct it where you want it to go. Another plus -- needs very little equipment.

And check out her pictures! I just think they are pretty cool :)

Apr 9, 2013

How to Find and Use Amazing Science Images in Class

I have been seeing so many amazing science related images lately. I have started collecting some of them here.
They are amazing, eye catching, and engaging. But how can I use them in class?! That's been a his question bothering me on and off recently.

Here is a list I've come up with, and I'd love if you'd add your ideas:

  • Print and hang them up like posters
  • Have students explain the image at the end of a unit  That works especially well for a photo like this from
  • Use them for engagement at the start of a unit
  • Use them as a writing activity on inference (thanks
  • Use them as a free write/prior knowledge -- what do they think is going on? -- this could be science related RTI, a few minutes left at the end of class, or simply for interest and engagement.  Remember why you think science is cool!!  Share that with the kids and get them excited about science! 
  • Maybe have them use the images to create images of their own (photos? Cartoons? Joint project with the art teacher?)
  • Create interest for a project that is coming up (example - animal photos, or adaptations, cool weathering formations).  Do a gallery walk or powerpoint to get them thinking. 

How would or do you use really cool science images in class?  Or do you just like to look at them?

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