Science, Education, and Science Education

classroom applications

Archive for the ‘Assessing learning’ Category

December 31st, 2012 by Luann

This is not your father’s homework assignment.

Homework is evil. All homework. It’s a pile of worksheets; pointless, drill-and-kill busywork that overloads students brains, frustrates (or bores) them to tears, reinforces the practice of incorrect algorithms, destroys every creative cell in students’ bodies, and takes away from valuable playtime or family time. And it should never, ever be graded.

That’s the message sent by many who are trying to fix whatever’s wrong with education. I don’t buy it.

Sniffometer

Sniff-O-Meter

Our school is on an AB block schedule.  I see students at most 3 days a week (when we have a full week of school), so more often twice a week; sometimes 4 times in 2 weeks, and sometimes 6-7 days pass without meeting as a class when we have long weekends.  (Yes, I use electronic communication as much as possible, considering 20-25% or my students have neither an Internet connection in their homes nor a smartphone). To that end, my teacher-gut tells me that students who have deeper conceptual understandings and own their skills are the students who have stayed connected to their learning. I’ve become a fan of a few types of assignments to help students stay connected.  Some are most specifically, homework. Other assignments are directly connected to an upcoming inquiry or project lab. Other work is investigative, calculation practice, synthesis, or preparation for discussion.  Outlined below are some general types of “homework” students may expect to best support them as they learn science.

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August 6th, 2012 by Luann

How Not To Do Professional “Development”

Several years ago, I was introduced to a process designed to help students learn. grimreaper The plan involved my colleagues and I doing some simple things in our classrooms, with our students, and then discussing the results of our work together and planning how to make learning even better. It’s no longer being used, and I’m sad.  I have a few ideas about why it fell by the wayside.

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August 2nd, 2012 by Luann

Twenty Teachers, and Arne Duncan

I had the opportunity to view an important movie this week. I’ve seen it once before. Both times, I watched with a group of the finest educators I’ve ever met. The movie was especially hard-hitting for us because we’ve shared their journey, their tears, and their triumphs.

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October 10th, 2011 by Luann

Writing and the Lab Report

Oregon requires students to complete an inquiry work sample (here’s the one we will use this year) at some time during high school.  Our classes function on an inquiry basis at some level almost daily.  I’ve played with many strategies to help students write about their work in a manner that facilitates their learning while documenting their work in a manner that survives the scrutiny of a scientific peer review.

Most recently, I’ve incorporated the work began with Linda Christensen (from Lewis and Clark) and the Oregon Writing Project. Freshmen begin keeping all lab and inquiry work in a bound theme book, AKA fondly as “my lab book.” My vision for the appearance of student lab books has morphed over the years.  Some things change very little, though, because good science is good science and good science writing is good science writing. At my current school, I’m blessed with like-minded colleagues who have helped me refine my vision as it is shared in this post. Here’s our current plan…..

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August 14th, 2011 by Luann

Collaboration, Lab Work and Student Roles

Group Roles

Neurology Students in Berlin, a long, long time ago.

My introduction to assigning student roles in group work came in 1994 at a Project Discovery summer workshop. I didn’t question the value of this practice. More experienced teachers and university professors shared their expert guidelines.  As teacher participants in the workshop, we used these canned roles as we worked our way through canned labs intended to inspire student discovery. They appeared, we decided, to be a pretty effective method for managing students in lab settings and for facilitating student communication about their work. The checkpoints added strategically to canned procedures helped me check for understanding while students were working.

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April 10th, 2011 by Luann

Data and Truth: The Story Behind the Scores

Every dataset has a story. We usually look only at the data and ignore the story. For example, according to my original findings, and as approved by committee of esteemed researchers in education and science, I could make this statement:

Pre-service elementary teachers showed a statistically significant gain in their learning about the moon and teaching elementary students about the moon by inquiry.

And this supporting statement:

The study shows that pre-service teachers average gain scores from pre-test to post-test increased by 7 points on a 21-item test.

If this were taken as the only finding from my dissertation, these pre-service teachers obviously demonstrated significant learning. All is well.

But wait.

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April 3rd, 2011 by Luann

Under One Big Sky: Finished.

The journey is over.

47,556 words, 200 pages. Defended.  Paperwork filed.

Crashed with my sons, daughter-in-law, and grandsons.  Called husband.

I’m now Dr. Mom, Dr. Gramma, and Dr. Dear.

And sitting in the airport waiting for a flight back home, I feel a bit lost and empty.

Maybe I’ll have something to say about it later.  Maybe not.

September 24th, 2010 by Luann

Fixing Broken Assumptions

Brokentruck by Luann

I just began year 22 of classroom teaching.  My goal is never to become one of those “old” teachers, sneering at innovation while pulling an ancient worksheet from a dog-eared folder. I’ve asked younger colleagues to alert me should they observe these tendencies in my practice.  I actively seek and provide a variety of professional development for myself and my colleagues.  I’m active in various professional learning communities. My paper and electronic files are pruned and revised regularly.  And I listen to students, with a focus this past year on the learning skills of a particularly interesting class of intentional non-learners.  You know the type.  They enter the classroom with their minds on everything else; pencils and paper, it they have any, remain in their backpacks. Their faces say, “Teach me.  I dare you.”  They have little respect for anything, often including themselves.

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May 8th, 2009 by Luann

A Profession Driven By Data ?

We learn about data in our teacher-preparation programs; at least I did, 20+ years ago.  I learned how to count up my students’ correct answers and compare them to the incorrect answers to pinpoint areas of difficulty among these students.

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April 21st, 2009 by Luann

Poke Sharpened Pencils Through My Eyes

It’s day 2 of the Science WASL.

Most students finished an hour or so early.  I brought Starburst® candy for my group, who stuck through the torture yesterday like troopers.

Today, they quietly and gratefully consumed the candy after completing the test.  It took most of them no more than 1 hour.  Walking around, I noticed that students at one table quietly  made a fleet of tiny boats from the wrappers.  Students at another table appeared to be having a silent-movie version of a candy-wrapper-airplane contest.

I would have taken a photo to share but cell phones weren’t allowed.