Science, Education, and Science Education

classroom applications
March 6th, 2013 by Luann

Student Guest Post: New Elemental Discoveries Strike A Chord with Chemists

This post is the college admissions essay written by an amazing current AP Chemistry student, Marissa Beam.

Periodic Table of Band

Periodic Table of Band

I’m pretty sure her other intellectual abilities would have assured not only her acceptance but the free ride she received. She shared this essay with me, and I loved it so much that I asked, and she granted, permission, for me to share it here.

Spectacular new advances have been made in the periodic table in the past couple of months. A grand total of 34 new elements have been discovered in the most unlikely of places: high school band rooms. A new alkali metal (Directorium, 119) and an alkaline earth metal (Band Geekium, 120) are the most prominent of the new discoveries followed by 32 others which form the Instruminide Series. Research is underway to determine the properties and habits of these elements, as well as why they had not been discovered before, and while there is still much to learn, what has been deciphered of these mysterious elemental additions is fascinating.

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February 18th, 2013 by Luann

Creativity and Science, Part 3

From Learning and the Brain Conference, Day 2, Friday.

Souls of Pe bring water for purification.

It’s pretty clear to me, perhaps because I’m looking for it, that however one views creativity, one has to know something to be creative in a productive sense. Rigorous content is part of most models of PBL and creativity models. I’m not sure this is obvious to everyone, though. I’ve always known that before kids can create productively, they have to know something. Granted, some world problems appear to be solvable on the surface by 6th graders playing with plastic cups and sand models of water purification systems, and 6th graders should play with these things. At some point, however, rigor and expectations need to stretch. How can this be done? Read the rest of this entry »

February 15th, 2013 by Luann

Creativity and Science, Part 2

Creativity?

I’m starting to form a more clear picture of how I see creativity as a part of science.

I don’t care if it’s considered to be right or wrong by brain scientists or by educators.  It’s my synthesis at this time in my learning. If you’d like to help me with it, please do.

I’m still having issues with those who are of the school that creativity must be done in collaboration.  I have the same issue with those who state that true creativity takes place in total solitude. Maybe this is because I’m a Libra.  Maybe it’s because each learner processes, synthesizes, and constructs knowledge in his own way.

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February 14th, 2013 by Luann

Creativity and Science, Part 1

I’m leaving tomorrow to attend Learning and the Brain’s Educating for Creative Minds conference.

I’ve been creative before.  Several of my quilts were chosen for an exhibit at an art museum

Brain

in Ohio. I’ve been creative in my classroom for years. It takes a great deal of creativity to keep teenagers engaged as they learn an abstract subject such as chemistry. I’ve created lessons, labs, projects, presentations, lab stations, grant proposals, graphics, models, rubrics, assessments, and a few bazillion things I’ve already forgotten about. Oh, and a dissertation, the production of which is fundamental to my question: What does it mean to be creative in science?

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January 19th, 2013 by Luann

National Board Certification Renewal: Evidence of Impact on Student Learning

In a previous post, I described a scenario in which an administrator clearly did not understand the impact on student learning a teacher must demonstrate to renew National Board Certification. If you’re wondering, too, read on.  And if you’re a renewal candidate, here are the files you’ve been looking for.

I’ve answered more than 100 emails this past week, asking for renewal help. As I write, there are almost 300 hits to this blog from searches for national board renewal help – just in the last month. As a result, I’ve decided to post a few items from the Renewal workshops I facilitate and a rationale for renewing.

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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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November 20th, 2012 by Luann

“So, what did you do in school today?”

Ask your child this question, and he will no doubt respond with,”Nothing.”

In School Today

Today, in School

I propose that you try a variation, something like:

Who taught you something today? What did you learn?
To whom did you teach something? What did you teach?
Tell me about something that you created today.
Tell me about a person to whom you spoke for the first time today.
Tell me a question that you asked.  Tell me about the answer.
Tell me about a question that you answered.
Tell me what you expect to learn tomorrow.

Ask these questions frequently, and watch how the answers change.

October 15th, 2012 by Luann

The Learning Brain

Dr Chris Jernstedt from Dartmouth on Learning and the Brain synthesized something that I’ve been trying to apply for a while, now.  He breaks the goals of learning down into four areas:  knowing (facts), applying (classroom learning to life situations), recognizing (what classroom things are related to a given “life” situation), and extrapolating.  If all this student does is sit in class and “soak it in,” I think he/she will have tremendous difficulty doing anything but knowing (if that). Yet, it seems most students seldom progress past the “knowing” stage.

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October 7th, 2012 by Luann

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte

To quote Diane Ravitch, this is my blog and I’ll post what I want.

That said, making a good latte is chemistry. I’ve been watching the local box store/grocery (hey, I live in a small town) for pumpkin spice creamer. I am still in disbelief that it wasn’t me who thought of dumping a slice of pumpkin pie in a blender with a cup of good coffee and them topping it with shipped cream. Instead, I’ve come up with a pretty palatable substitute. Read the rest of this entry »

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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