Science, Education, and Science Education

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Archive for the ‘Equity’ Category

September 20th, 2015 by Luann

All Means All, Part 4: Learning from Parents

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts summarizing my reflections on what it means to provide learning opportunities for every student, every day. #AllMeansAll 

At the beginning of each year, I send a safety contract home with my students to sign with their parents. .  There’s also a place for parent and student to sign that they read and understand the course information and syllabus. The truly important questions, though, are on the other side of the paper.

Yes, I want to know what parents expect for their child in my class. While this survey is far from scientific, every year the answers I receive cause me to reconsider how I communicate with students and parents. Here, in general terms to protect privacy, is a summary of some of the most common comments from parents explaining what they want for their kids. Some comments are not at all surprising. Some comments, however, make me step back and think.

Parents want me to:

  • be enthusiastic about our learning.
  • be a really great teacher.
  • know if their child will learn to work with chemicals safely.
  • treat their children courteously and with respect.
  • know their children are kind, funny, clever, interesting, talented, intelligent, hard-working, conscientious, scared, stressed, anxious, are quick learners, struggle with math, are gifted artists and writers and musicians.
  • be available for any help their child might need with understanding concepts or learning skills.They want me to know their child doesn’t always like to ask for help.
  • communicate with them if there are any issues with their children, be they behavioral or academic – assignments missing, failing grades. They want to hear from me if they call or email.
  • actually teach the class and not just hand out papers and expect students to understand.
  • know they can’t help with chemistry homework.
  • provide career guidance and prepare their children for college.

Parents want their children to:

  • be challenged appropriately.
  • enjoy science and learning.
  •  “just please pass this class.”
  • be able to ask questions and get answers delivered in a way that doesn’t make their child feel like an idiot.
  • be challenged.
  • be given clear expectations

Parents want to know what they can do to help their children be successful.

Most of all, each parent wants me to know his/her child; to know that Rosa loves her dogs more than anything; that Abby is on the state equestrian team and is a horse whisperer; that John needs frequent check-ins for understanding, that Katie lost her glasses and won’t be able to get a new pair for 3 weeks; that Zach is having surgery in October and will miss at least a week, that Mindy has anxiety attacks before tests but does just fine if I offer some reassurance beforehand that I know she can do well; that Jose wants to be a physicist and will take AP Chemistry and physics both next year; and that Roger wants to take over his grandfather’s machine shop after graduation.

There are very few surprise responses. Parents do ask questions,  and they expect answers.

How am I changed by knowing all this?  Students love knowing that I know a bit about them when I plan our work together. I can better craft physical and emotional learning environments that meet all students’ needs. I know  student seating preferences, who is reserved about speaking out, who doesn’t read aloud in class,  There’s something positive to talk about when I call home.

What do you do to better know your students?

September 14th, 2015 by Luann

All Means All Part 3: Graphing our Learning Styles

This is the third in a series of blog posts summarizing my reflections on what it means to provide learning opportunities for every student, every day. Find the series here, at  #AllMeansAll 

Disclaimer: I’ve read a good deal of literature and opinion around the validity of learning styles. Nonetheless, at the encouragement of a colleague (this colleague) during some collaborative course design work, I pulled out the learning styles inventory* again this year, in Physical Science classes. The intent was to use the data gathered to introduce graphing, and that was a win.  The colleague suggested we share with students WHY we are interested in their learning styles. We are interested so that we can be sure to make learning available to all students in the modality each student best learns. We discussed this in both classes. The real win, though, was what I learned about my students, and what they learned about themselves.

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September 11th, 2015 by Luann

All Means ALL, Part 1

This is the first in a series of blog posts summarizing my reflections on what it means to provide learning opportunities for every student, every day. Find the series here, at  #AllMeansAll 

This year, my district has adopted a motto.

All means ALL.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this……

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March 31st, 2015 by Luann

A Perspective on STEM in the US and Interesting Implications

Today, I read this article from the Washington Post. The author’s opinions of STEM are interesting. The connection to STEM as I know it is pretty broad. Some claims are backed up with evidence, some simply reinforce his stance on a liberal education for all.

The author made some great points. I read with interest.  The twelfth paragraph really jumped out at me.

“No matter how strong your math and science skills are, you still need to know how to learn, think and even write. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon (and the owner of this newspaper), insists that his senior executives write memos, often as long as six printed pages, and begins senior-management meetings with a period of quiet time, sometimes as long as 30 minutes, while everyone reads the “narratives” to themselves and makes notes on them. In an interview with Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky, Bezos said: “Full sentences are harder to write. They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.”

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December 23rd, 2014 by Luann

NBPTS v3.0 Selected Response Item Review: A Trip to The Dark Side

I field-tested the National Board v3.0  AYA Science Constructed Response and  Selected Response Assessment Center components. I was then invited to the Item Review, to happen here:


Know thine enemy, I’d been told. Besides, if I didn’t go check this out, how would I ever be able to comment with credibility on the process?

I went.

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March 28th, 2014 by Luann

One More Request, Mr. Gates and Mr. Duncan

I want this:

Library of Congress

Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, maybe not this particular library. I want access to my Ball State University Library account; the account that went away a year or so after I was awarded my EdD.

These accounts cost money. All the while I was a student, I paid $50 per semester for this access. It was heaven. I could read almost anything anyone wrote about science, education, or science education, whenever I wanted. After I moved across the country while writing my dissertation, I could still use this access.  I loved this privilege.  My students and colleagues benefitted from my learning. But now, access is gone. It’s expensive; I understand that. Certainly, Mr. Gates, there must be a way for you to fund this.  Mr. Duncan, your pledge to support quality teaching and learning at this conference in March certainly includes supporting educators as we search for and share best practices.

I can get this, from Ball State;  this, from The Ohio State University, and this, from Wright State University. The best any can do is access to ONSITE services. I now live 2400 miles away from these universities. In the digital age, this shouldn’t be an issue.

What might you be willing to do to support this request? How could you work together with universities to allow teaching alumni to access their resources?

February 17th, 2014 by Luann

A Teacher’s Letter to Bill Gates


I worked every possible angle to attend the T&L conference, but it’s not in the cards this year. I was very disappointed that I could not attend,

Dear Mr. Gates

Dear Mr. Gates

and then I saw the email about Bill Gates as a speaker. I’ve been a long time supporter of NBPTS, having certified in AYA/Science in 1998 when the certificate was first available and renewing in the 2006-2007 cycle. I’ve supported initial cert candidates and renewal candidates, having written the renewal workshop materials for Washington State (WEA). I am working hard to promote certification to potential candidates in Oregon. I was watching the revisions as carefully as an outsider to the process can watch, and was very much hoping that the process would maintain the rigor and standards I’ve known since 1997 when I began the process. Associating Bill Gates with our profession, no matter how much money he might give, has alienated a good many potential candidates and has many of my NBCT colleagues across the nation questioning whether they will bother to renew. We do not want anyone who is not an educator in the position to offer financial incentives for following their decisions about what they believe is best for our profession and our students. I don’t remember a time I’ve been so disappointed in the direction my profession is taking, and it’s not my nature to watch in silence as it’s destroyed.

With that in mind, below is my letter to Bill Gates as he prepares to address my colleagues at the National Board Teaching and Learning Conference on March 14, 2014.

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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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July 14th, 2012 by Luann

Title IX in Engineering?

The misinterpretation of Title IX with respect to student gender quotas in university engineering departments on Joanne Jacobs’ blog yesterday received a bit of discussion Saturday on Twitter. Jason said, in reference to the post,

and then Bryan said

Jason replied, and @druinok responded:


A little later, this tweet popped into the conversation.

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April 14th, 2012 by Luann

Will I “Flip” my Classroom?

Truth is, I already did. Years ago.

About 2 years into my career, I figured out that if students arrived in class already knowing something about the day’s learning, they took away a deeper, more satisfying, understanding. We were able to use class time differently, in ways that helped us learn more authentically.

I did not need standardized tests, value-added evaluations, or clever new names for the method to figure this out, by the way.

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