Science, Education, and Science Education

classroom applications
August 23rd, 2011 by Luann

First Day 2011

Beginning my 23rd year in the classroom, I still get a bit nervous that everything will go well. I walk through each class at least 20 times in my head and tweak things until the last minute.  Classes begin on September 6.  Every day except for 2 until them, I have meetings or some random duty, or prep work scheduled.

My goals for the school year are to bring more relevance to our learning, better help each student reach his/her potential, and to do so without working 23 hours a day and all weekend. This partly stems from the stress last year of finishing the dissertation while starting a new job.  I was either teaching, grading, planning, writing, crunching data, moving, or sleeping, in that order. (I ate while working on something. Couldn’t figure out how to work in my sleep.) I’d like my classes and my life to move at a pace that allows time for reflection and revising and laughing at least a little.  And I never, ever want my desk to look like this again:

Here’s my first day so far:

Learning Targets:
1. Science: Remember that? (A little science on the first day never hurt.)
2. Learn roles and protocols for group work (because 9th graders usually don’t know what to do in a group.)
3. Explain what we will learn this year, why and how we will learn it.

Most of all, I want students to learn and have some fun. The learning targets are to keep students engaged (and to keep their notebooks from looking like this:).

I shamelessly stole the Subversive Lab Grouping Game from @fnochese. I will use it much as he does. Students are given one card when they enter.  Biology classes will use this set, and Chemistry classes will use this set. (Enter subject area content.) Students will learn to form groups while having a little fun, and then we’ll learn to have a whole-class discussion.

We will discuss what they learned about the groups, both the obvious and the subversive, about science in general.  Biologists will discuss the characteristics of some major groups of living things. Chemists will note they grouped themselves by locations on the periodic table and understand that they are grouped in this way because they have some things in common. (Learning Target 1)

Each group will receive an appropriate set of role cards as described here.  Today’s task will require the Leader/Manager, Reader, Document Control Specialist, and Communications Specialist. Students will work through this activity, meeting Learning Target, 2 and 3. Here is the Career Skills reference. Prepare a basic version of the standards you are using (don’t get me started.)  Student advice is on your own, collected at the end of last year. Always frank; Frequently hilarious.  If you email me, I’ll get some to you.

Reminders about roles throughout helps keep everyone contributing and helps make sense of collaborating.  Roles also make is clear that everyone’s input is not only needed, but welcomed. At the end of each part in the What, Why, How work, we stop and share responses, making a list on the board. Perhaps this year, we will also write some specific, individual goals to check in with occasionally.  I tried this once with SMART goals.  I love goals that are achievable and specific, but get lost after that.  Maybe we’ll just do SA goals.

These activities will also let me see quickly who are leaders, clowns, academics; who is quiet, who might not know much English, who will need help focusing, who is willing to read aloud in a group, you get the picture.  Students understand quickly that they are to do their best, listen to others, that it’s safe to speak up, and begin to see that mutual respect is the MO in my classroom.


4 Responses to “First Day 2011”
  1. […] has several variations on the Who I Am sheet (scroll down a bit),which are easily downloadable.Luann Lee goes over her first day plans on her blog. She take a more utilitarian route on the first day than I do,but I’d definitely incorporate […]

  2. I came here from your post on the NSTA list server. Fantastic idea for first day of school! Thank you for sharing!

    • Cynthia, I added a link to your blog to my LINKS list. I’m hunting for a way to connect with you, but not finding anything ;(

      • Thanks so much Luann! I just started my blog last week and would love to get some followers and comments! I just emailed you, can’t wait to connect.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: